Monday, April 28, 2008

Publishing Jobs in Washington, D.C.

Recently I had a reader in Texas write for advice in finding a publishing job on the east coast—preferably Washington, D.C. My first thought was that he should check out editing jobs with the hundreds of professional and trade associations that have set up shop in the nation’s capital. A quick look yields some goodies, such as the National Potato Council and the Soap and Detergent Association. But you could probably also look for an association that’s in line with your personal interests (in case they're not potatoes and soap).

I also suggested that he look for jobs with the federal government. A few months ago I saw a posting for a writing job for the Department of the Interior. That’s got “dream job” written all over it for somebody. You can search all government jobs at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s USAJOBS site.

The reader noted that he’d been applying directly to companies and having no luck, so I thought I might suggest networking to him. He also asked for a recommendation of a recruiter in the area. It just so happens that I have an author in D.C. who fits the bill. Shelley Goldman of The Goldman Group Advantage is the coauthor of The Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job. She once had the chutzpah to ask Bill Clinton at a party to endorse her book. “Now, Shelley,” he told her. “You know you have to talk to my office.” So she did, and of course they declined. (Maybe we should try again now that he’s camped out in Indiana, and according to one columnist, is practically offering to carry our groceries to our cars if we’ll vote for Hillary.)

But I digress. Shelley had some good advice for the reader:

About your reader...the publishing/communications positions are highly competitive, as you know. As you can imagine, in D.C. there are many highly qualified candidates around. The best advice I can give your reader is to network very efficiently, and if this is not something they do a lot, to learn how to network ASAP. Networking with grace takes time, and in this market especially is a required activity to be noticed. Your reader should consider getting involved in any associations and groups in this field, and I realize is challenging from a remote location. They need to work with good recruiters in the field, provided that they have current experience in this industry.

One of the big stumbling blocks for your reader could be they have an out-of-state address. Most firms, when hiring for junior or mid-level positions, do not have a need to be open to an out-of-state candidate. This is particularly true when there are plenty of local candidates available. If possible, your reader should consider getting a local address on their resume. There are ways of doing this the right way, which will give the potential employer a good feeling about the candidate.

My guess is that you could set up a local address with a place like The UPS Store. Or if you have a friend living in the area, you could ask them to let you use their address.

1 comment:

Krisan Matthews said...

I agree wholeheartedly professional associations are a great way to get experience in publishing. Oftentimes, they can be overlooked because they aren't necessarily "big name publishers." But there are some definite advantages, such as getting a bird's eye view of the entire publishing process...something that you may not get as readily at a large publisher.

In the D.C. area, though, two associations that we have strong ties to are the American Diabetes Association and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN).

Chicago also has a wealth of professional associations, such as the one I work for. You really don't have to live/work someplace like NYC to get a good job in publishing these days.