On the one hand, I was thrilled to kick off the new All Digitocracy webinar series covering topics of interest to journalists as the industry continues its evolution. We had a stellar panel — Nicki Mayo, William Ketchum and Kim Bui — who that shared their layoff stories and offered solid tips to those currently grappling with their own. Listen to the 60-minute webinar here.
On the other, I wish it wasn’t on the topic of layoffs. But this has become an all-too-common occurence in our industry, so it needs to be discussed. Here are some of the stats:
- Between 2014 and 2017, some 5,000 media jobs were cut from the market – Business Insider
- Since January, we’ve seen job cuts at the Dallas Morning News, Condé Nast, BuzzFeed, Gannett, Vice, HuffPost, AOL, GateHouse Media and McClatchy.
- Last week, New York Media announced that it was cutting 32 jobs, that brought the number of media jobs eliminated in 2019 to over 2,300.
Let’s be honest — no one wants to talk about layoffs. We sit at our desks, keep our heads down and hope that pink slip doesn’t land on our desk. But it’s happening with more frequency and hoping it won’t happen is no way to deal with it.
PREPARE IN ADVANCE FOR LAYOFFS
- Set up an emergency fund — NOW!
- Ramp up efforts to stay in touch with your networks before the ax falls so you don’t have to fight as much after.
- Do an inventory of all your skills so you know what you can offer potential employers.
- Sometimes your computer is shut off before you have a chance to get your files, so copy what you need now so you’ll have it if the worst happens.
- Clean off your desk. Nothing is worse than packing up boxes and boxes of stuff after you’ve been laid off.
- Save your work as PDFs or in the cloud, especially if it’s behind a paywall.
- Keep copies of all work-related memos, awards and HR-related paperwork at home.
- Have your resume, online portfolio and LinkedIn profile current at all times, even if you’re happy in your job and see no clouds on the work horizon.
- Google yourself and clean up any social media issues, because trust me — potential employers do check.
THE AXE HAS FALLEN — NOW WHAT?
- Negotiate your severance. You don’t have to take the first offer you’re given.
- Do NOT sign the papers while you’re still in the office. Have a lawyer look them over first to avoid nasty surprises that could affect you getting that next job.
- Get letters of recommendation from your managers.
- Use personal contact and social media to announce your layoff — but do NOT bad-mouth your soon-to-be-ex-employer.
- Accept every invitation to meet with former co-workers and others in the industry for coffee, meals and drinks.
- Think outside the job box when considering your next job, because you do have transferrable skills that companies will value.
The number one thing to remember is you are NOT alone. There are people and resources out there to help. Here are some we highly recommend, in no particular.
- Associations Now magazine, “Amid Mass Layoffs, Journalism Associations Offer Support, Assistance.”
- Poynter Institute, “Resources for laid-off journalists.”
- Columbia Journalism Review, “Diary of a laid-off journalist.”
- Emsi, “The Top Alternative Careers for Journalists.”
- Kim Bui’s “The Middles” newsletter.
- Journalists of Color Slack (please be patient; there’s a lot of demand and acceptance may take a while)
- McSweeney’s, “What Not to Say to a Laid-Off Journalist.”
- 14 Must-Join Slack Communities for Writers, Creators, and Media
- The Journalists of Color Network
- Poynter, “A list of every hidden journalism-related social media group I could find.”
During the webinar, we all discussed the importance of mental health and therapy. Federally funded health centers are a good resource for those without health insurance or who are on a limited budget. You pay what you can afford based on your income, and many of them centers include mental health services. Find a federally funded health center near you.
I hope this information is helpful. This was the first of a series of All Digitocracy webinars that will run through 2019. If you have any topics you want to see us cover, please email them here. Put AllD Webinars in the subject line. Thanks!