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The Publishing Survival Guide:
won’t need a compass, pocketknife, or snakebite kit to forge the
publishing wilderness, but a few good tools can come in handy. You’re
the only one with the ability to craft the career you want. It’s a
jungle out there, but with a good map and a courageous heart, you can make
Here is an alphabetical list of career survival tips to help you along your way. You don’t need to use them in order and you don’t need to use all of them. Pick and choose the tools that work for you.
that things change and learn to roll with the punches.
Change is inevitable. What is becoming difficult to handle these days is the rate at which change occurs. Life is speeding up and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. What you can do is accept that change is a part of the landscape. Identify what changes you truly need to address and leave the rest to others.
A good way to ensure that you’re not wasting time while others are keeping you waiting is to always carry a book or some other reading material (or even a book on tape). While others are whining or gossiping because the meeting presenter is late, you can consider it “found time” that you can use to catch up on those professional journal articles you’ve been meaning to read.
collaborate, and cohere.
Not every job can be accomplished alone. Teamwork is the name of the game these days. Evaluate your own team-building ability and learn all you can about how to manage and participate in teams.
your people skills.
Executive recruiters tell us that more job candidates lose opportunities because of a lack of people skills than for any other evaluation factor. Learn techniques to establish workable relationships with people at all corporate levels. Smile, make eye contact, and develop a firm handshake.
your work in industry competitions and contests.
If you’re proud of your work on your company’s newsletter, how much better would it feel if it were an award-winning publication? Consider entering your work in both local and national competitions. A little applause for work well done never hurts—and awards help build your portfolio.
life outside of work with wonderful people and activities.
Nothing takes the edge off a three-hour budget meeting better than spending twenty minutes at the playground with your three-year-old, power walking through a botanic garden, zoning out with Sibelius on the headphones. The rudely trite comment “Get a life” might be tiresome, but it has merit. The more you have that gives your life meaning, the easier it will be for you to ignore the inconsequential.
you don’t yet have a home computer and personal Internet email account,
get them. Don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to interact online
by depending on your employer. The Web may still seem like an unfathomable
entity, but it is the new frontier of publishing and communication. You
need to be there.
suggestion may seem superficial given the profound changes occurring in
the publishing industry today, but consider this: most people make
decisions about individuals within 60 seconds of meeting them. That’s
not enough time for them to get to know the inner you and the knowledge
you possess. Make the outer you shine.
out those mental cobwebs and get your synapses buzzing. Learning new words
gives your brain a workout and paves the way for better learning and
remembering. Try crosswords, acrostics, or word games, or just browse
through the dictionary now and then.
any chance to polish your public speaking skills.
Okay, we’ve all heard the statistics that most people consider public speaking to be a fate worse than death. You don’t have to like it; you have to be good at it. And it all comes down to preparation and practice. Know your material and speak with confidence.
up with technology.
is not going away. It is not getting easier. And it most definitely is not
becoming more transparent to the user. You don’t have to know
everything. You don’t even have to have heard of everything. Pick your
forum. Are you a graphics guru or a text maven?
Does bringing people together online make you happy or are you more
into computing on the go? Select a topic and spend an hour or two each
week reading up on it enough to be conversant.
Aside from a lack of people skills, a lack of business skills sinks most mid-level publishing careers before they hit executive pay dirt. Publishing professionals (especially editorial and writing) tend to be too close to their specialties and not aware enough of their business surroundings and how they fit into the overall organization. Learn to understand a balance sheet, a marketing plan, and your company’s human resources policies.
colleague (or colleague-to-be).
One of the teaching tenets in medical school is “See one, do one, teach one.” Not only does sharing your knowledge help someone else, it reinforces your own understanding. Reach out and help someone who is starting out in your field, or show someone who’s still in school what your career is all about.
everyone you meet.
Assume that everyone you meet is a potential client or employer. Don’t hit them up for a job or try to sell them on your skills, but leave them with a good impression of you. Make them wish they had an opening for someone so bright, polished, and accomplished. You never know when one of them will create that opportunity just for you.
up to new possibilities.
Sometimes we become so fixated on the course we’ve plotted that we become terrified at any fork in the road. In that state, it’s easy to pass up a great opportunity just because we hadn’t anticipated it. It’s important to have goals, but keep in mind the possibility that there’s more than one way to reach them.
your energy levels.
Success boosts energy and energy powers success. Make an effort to get enough sleep, eat properly, and spend a few minutes every day in physical activity. Learn relaxation techniques to get you through the tough patches and face every obstacle with a positive attitude.
every chance you get.
People are vast reservoirs of information. Most people will cheerfully tell you about their professional experiences or answer particular questions within their realm of expertise. Don’t interrogate and don’t pursue beyond the person’s comfort level, but don’t pass up an opportunity to ask a question because you think the person wouldn’t be interested in talking with you.
magazines and professional journals.
We’re all on information overload. One way to filter out the noise is to be selective about your sources. Select two or three publications—print or electronic—and read them regularly. Re-evaluate each publication’s value when its subscription comes up for renewal. If it’s been helpful, renew; if not, select a replacement. The publishing industry is so segmented that it’s possible to find a publication covering almost any interest and profession.
out a role model or mentor.
can learn a lot from someone who’s been there before you. There are
several ways to accomplish this. First, you can develop a one-on-one
relationship with someone whose work or career you admire. Second, you can
sample a variety of viewpoints. Once a month, invite to lunch a person
whose opinion you’d like to know. Third, read biographies and memoirs of
successful people. Learn from their stories.
new look at old situations.
If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. If you’re at an impasse with a person or a situation, take a step back and look at it from a new perspective. Some situations will remain untenable, but often you’ll discover a new way to get around or eliminate the problem altogether.
This is not a task to undertake only when you’ve been downsized or get mad at your boss. It’s an ongoing process. At any time, you should be able to produce a clean, well-written, up-to-date résumé. Use it as your own evaluation tool. How long has it been since you’ve had something to add? Maybe it’s time to take a class, ask for a new project, or look for a new client.
next job and start preparing now.
If you don’t know what you want, you won’t know when you get it. Take some time when you’re updating your résumé to map out where you want this career path to take you. Are you headed for the bestseller lists, the top of the masthead, or publishing your own magazine? Once you know where you’re going, actively work to gain the knowledge and expertise you require in to achieve it—one piece at a time.
an article for a professional journal or Web site.
good way to become more appreciated within your own organization is to
become recognized outside of it. Appearing in print with a
well-thought-out article adds instant credibility. Make an effort to
submit at least one article a year. Try association newsletters and
magazines, publishing-related Web sites, or your alumni publication. The
goal here isn’t getting paid; it’s getting published.
ideas with colleagues.
Many times we view our colleagues only as friends or foes, not as professional equals. Try calling a truce and getting together for a “roundtable” discussion of common issues. You might be amazed to find out that something you thought could only happen at your organization is prevalent throughout industry. Or you might learn that someone you’d least expect to be sympathetic to your plight has a workable answer for you.
When things aren’t working out your way, it’s tempting to give in to complaints and criticism. Don’t get caught up in that game. It doesn’t help. And it does hurt. The object of your witty remarks will remember them long after the satisfaction of saying them has passed. Complaining also tricks your brain into thinking that you’ve actually done something to relieve the situation. It goes off to work on its next problem and you’re not one iota ahead.
in on what matters to you.
Your career is all about you—what you’ve been put on this earth to accomplish. Everyone else around you has his or her own agenda. Be your own best career guide. Stop occasionally to evaluate what you’re doing and why. Each time you’re offered a new opportunity, think before you act. Learn to say no when you should. And learn to give it your all when you accept the challenge.
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