Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Home Gardening Is Hot

I have been loving this resurgence of interest in home gardening. Not only is it good for gardening-book publishers (see Publishers Weekly's take on it here), it's good for the environment, our bodies, and our souls.

My husband and I both grew up watching our grandfathers till the soil every spring and plant backyard gardens. In fact, Grandpa Hand was still planting onions when he couldn't stand up any longer, by sitting in a chair in the yard. They would grow tomatoes, bell peppers (which my grandparents erroneously called mangoes), potatoes, onions, and other basic staples that grow well in Indiana.

Ever since we set up housekeeping, Jason and I have had a garden. I have been a sporadic helper to his tireless efforts. We've tried all sorts of things in addition to the basics, such as snow peas, cucumbers, corn, herbs, carrots, watermelon, strawberries, and canteloupe--with varying degrees of success. We don't like pesticides, so we've had heartbreaking losses to bugs, birds, and bunnies. (If we are to really live off our land, we're going to have to get medieval on the pests this year, somehow. Marigolds and chili powder just aren't cutting it.)

And then there's the composter. Sometimes I resent the fact that I'm not allowed to throw away any vegetable scrap, eggshell, or coffee ground--it has to be finely chopped and hauled out to the stinky composter. But that has paid off in terms of loamy goodness that is transforming our clay soil into the envy of our novice gardening neighbors. Now he wants to buy a $150 rain barrel.

I think that if people spent less time in their cars running to and fro and spending money, they could get a good workout in the yard, reap the benefits of the fresh air, and save some money on their grocery bills--all while eating something healthier. It's a win-win proposition, and I hope the trend continues.

Monday, March 30, 2009

10 Industries That Are Soaring

I'm starting to take articles like these with a grain of salt because it seems you see a new one every day, they all conflict with one another, and they use dubious sources. But I couldn't resist pointing out that this article from U.S. News & World Report (my 101-year-old grandpa's former favorite magazine) has ranked "resume editing" right up there with home gardening, McDonald's, and Harlequin romance novels as one of the things people just can't do without during this recession.

"All I know is I don't even have a life anymore," said one quoted professional resume writer in reference to the steady demand he is experiencing. Boy, do I hear that. Of course, how can you complain about having too much work when so many people don't have enough?

Another line from the article that I must point out: "Borders says its sales of career guides are up from last year." Oh yeah? I'd like some details on that one...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not Hired: Get a Laugh and Learn Something, Too!

So, it's Friday and I don't know about you, but I'm intellectually fried. Thank heavens for Krisan Matthews, who (via Facebook), showed me this site. Not Hired is a blog featuring the worst collection of job search blunders I've seen yet. If you need a primer on what not to do, sink your teeth into these: people who drone on and on in their cover letters, send suggestive photos of themselves, and drop the f-bomb on their resumes--repeatedly. And this is just from the past week of postings.

Where is this stuff coming from, when posting it is surely a violation of some confidentiality agreement? Taking credit is an anonymous bunch of "HR monkeys and hiring managers who have worked with some of the largest search engines, vertical portals, and social-networking sites on the Internet, as well as for hardware and software manufacturers, universities, federal agencies, and accounting and consulting firms."

If you don't want to end up here, use some common sense and read some career-advice books.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Skills-Marketing Workshop for Media Professionals

I know I keep harping on knowing your skills and finding ways to adapt them so that you will be employable in the future. Well, at least I'm not the only one. MediaBistro is offering a workshop next Tuesday, March 31, tailored to just that topic (see details here).

"Same Skills, New Career: How to Market and Update Your Current Skills for a Changing Job Climate" promises to offer basic job-hunting advice paired with how to develop a media career-change plan. You'll also learn how to create and optimize your online presence, which is vital in the new recruitment paradigm (in other words, most potential employers are going to Google you at some point--look busy).

Consultant Jeff Lundwall leads the seminar at the MediaBistro offices on Park Avenue in NYC. Cost is $65 ($50 if you are a member of Avant Guild).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Navigating an Interrupted Journalism Career

As bad as things are in book publishing now, I think we can all agree that our cousins in the newspaper business are ahead of us on the curve of career misery. But these are people with skills similar to ours, so it pays to look at some of the advice that's being given to them now.

The Neiman Journalism Lab blog features an interview with author Marci Alboher by Joshua Benton on navigating a disrupted journalism career. You can watch the 10-minute video or read the transcript. Marci's a career expert as well as a journalist who's no stranger to the end of a steady gig: The New York Times discontinued her "Shifting Careers" blog/column back in December. Here she gives some great advice on retooling and using your writing skills in other ways.

The best line is one she picked up at Neiman's recent conference: "Severance package is the new book advance." In other words, if you're lucky enough to get a chunk of cash on your way out the door, use it to help create the career or enterprise (maybe even a book) that you've always wanted to try.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recommended Career Books from Examiner.com

Heather Huhman is the entry-level careers columnist at Examiner.com. She just tweeted that she keeps a list of her reviews of recommended career books here. Many of the books on the list are ours; however, she's an unbiased reviewer whose opinion you can trust. If you're befuddled by all the career books out there, check out her list.

Also, she has been sending out a ton of PR job and internship opportunities over Twitter, so if you're interested in public relations and media, you should be following her here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

JIST Featured in Publishers Weekly This Week

A week or so ago, Publishers Weekly contacted us about doing a feature story on our company. The result is this very good article, published today.

Everyone's looking for a bright spot in publishing these days, and they thought we might be it. And yes, our trade sales have been doing very well since the beginning of the year because people need our books more than ever. But the article only nods to the elephant in the room: Trade is really only a relatively minor part of our business. Our school and workforce development customers are suffering badly and passing that along to us. Nobody here feels as if we're in the catbird seat, at least not yet.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Internships for the Over-50 Set?

Don't miss this story from The Today Show, highlighting some older, laid-off publishing professionals who are taking the opportunity to learn about new media as unpaid interns working for 24-year-olds. The people who have the guts, foresight, and open-mindedness to retool like this are the ones who will survive in publishing going forward.

Celebrate World Storytelling Day

Author, blogger, and career expert Katharine Hansen notes that today is World Storytelling Day. On her A Storied Career blog, she catalogs the various way this event is being celebrated.
This is relevant to this blog how? Because storytelling is the very essence of a successful job search. If you can tell stories about your achievements, both on your resume and in interviews, you will go a long way toward convincing the employer to hire you. And the most common interview question is "Tell me about yourself." Katharine's newly released book, Tell Me About Yourself, will help you build your story to answer that question--and all others--with style and substance. (Full disclosure: I edited this awesome book!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Electronic Resume Formatting Disaster

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am hiring a new editor. Our parent company's policy is to have all jobs posted on Monster.com, and to not accept resumes that don't come through Monster. This has caused all of us job search specialists here to squirm a bit, because we're always preaching in our books that the best way to get a job is through networking. And in practice, we are all but banning that.

But okay, if using Monster keeps us on the right side of the EEOC with minimum hassle, I get that. What I am really upset over is having to look at electronic resumes. Have you SEEN a resume after it gets chewed up and spit out by Monster?

What is happening with about 90% of the resumes I've gotten is that the lines of text are too long. They break in odd places and wrap around again in such as way as to make it impossible to tell what is what. Even worse, the job titles (which I might argue are the first thing anyone looks at) are not boldfaced. So it's literally impossible to sum up someone with a quick scan.

What are those talented few whose resumes are at least aligned correctly doing right? I can't be sure, but I think they are following expert advice and cutting their lines off at the end of the screen with hard returns.

It's also worth repeating that if your Word resume has bullets in it and you just paste it into an online form like Monster, those bullets will either drop out or turn into some other garbled mess. Instead, replace them with asterisks. The whole point of using bullets in the resume is to make it easier to read, and this is the best online approximation of that technique.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why Your Resume Should Not Begin with Your Objective

The career experts have been saying it for a decade, but most people just haven't been listening. Putting an Objective statement on your resume is not going to help you. And often, it can hurt you.

Professional resume writer Louise Fletcher has a good post on the subject here. An objective statement is usually all about you and what you want. Employers would rather hear what you can do for them.

Think I'm kidding? Take a look at this objective for a resume I just got:

...seeks sales position with a stable, growth organization with exceptional compensation and employee benefits.

Setting aside the fact the posting wasn't even for a sales job, what does this objective do to convince you to hire this person? Nothing. In fact, it probably makes you snicker at the naivety: where on earth would you find a stable, growth organization these days?

"But," you ask, "how will the employer know what job I want?" First off, you can start (after your contact information) with a boldfaced, centered heading that states the title of the job you seek, or a general approximation of it. Follow that with a short paragraph full of punchy sentences that sum up your greatest accomplishments and skills. When I write resumes, I always save that paragraph for the very last. That way, I can pull together everything I've learned about the person and bring to the fore his very most impressive points while also painting a cameo that makes the employer feel they know something about him before even diving into the meat of the resume.

And of course, your cover letter should state the job you're applying for.

Monday, March 16, 2009

LinkedIn Usage Up 22 Percent

Just read this nice article from NJ.com. The increase in people looking for work has resulted in a lot more time spent on business networking sites like LinkedIn, which had 33 million users at the end of last year. LinkedIn has also seen a 65 percent increase in the number of recommendations posted by users on behalf of other users. My guess is that two things are happening there:

  • People looking for work (or fearing that they will have to soon) are soliciting recommendations from coworkers.
  • Coworkers are posting recommendations for their fallen comrades in hopes of helping them land on their feet.

The article makes a funny distinction between Facebook and LinkedIn: The former is like a party; the latter is like an office party. Big difference! Personally, I've been so enthralled with the randomness of Facebook that I am in danger of ignoring LinkedIn. But, I know that's going to even out when the newness wears off.

Kudos to JibberJobber blogger Jason Alba for getting a plug for his book in this article. As I told him when I met him at a conference this past year, he's ubiquitous!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guess What? I'm Hiring!

I'm not kidding! I am looking for a new associate development editor to fill the position that was vacated last August. You can see the posting here.

I held off on hiring a new person last summer in light of year-end budget crunch issues. Since then I have been doing all acquisitions, development, copy editing, and production editing for two product lines (around 20 products a year). Needless to say, I feel like I am always behind, and my ability to think proactively and creatively has been severely hampered. I need someone to take over development on revised editions, and production editing on new titles. Since the job search book market is pretty hot right now, I think we can justify hiring someone.

Please don't contact me directly or send me your resume. I am required to funnel everyone through Monster.com. I am excited to see whether the bad job market might yield some superior editorial talent!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Internship Season at Wiley (Again)

Ah, spring, when a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns to thoughts of...internships! Wiley has just announced three areas for which it is seeking summer interns:

  • Information Technology: A structured ten-week summer internship program is available for students typically between their junior and senior years of college who aspire to careers in Information Technology. The program provides students with the opportunity to gain practical experience and learn from IT professionals and combines on-the-job training with seminars and group luncheons. The program offers coverage of the following IT technologies: Client management and trouble shooting, IP addressing, Network hardware, Storage Virtualization, Server Virtualization, Network storage, and network backups. The summer IT program offers a weekly stipend of $550 and runs from May through August. If you are interested in applying for an internship, submit a letter addressing why you would like to be selected for the program and areas of interest along with a resume. Summer internship applications should be submitted by May 1.
  • Acquisitions/Editorial: A structured ten-week summer internship is available for students typically between their junior and senior year of college who are interested in Editorial careers. The program offers students the opportunity to learn from publishing professionals. We also sponsor several informational luncheons and special projects during the summer to provide an overview of the entire publishing process. The program dates are May 26 - August 7, 2009. Hours are M-F, 8:30-4:30pm. This intern will research market information, competitive titles, possible author candidates, and new title ideas. Other responsibilities include creating and maintaining project files, assisting with the creation and review of marketing materials, perparing materials for meetings, and general administrative tasks. Requirements: Enrolled in a degree program at a College or University. Must be internet savvy and have the ability to do Web-based research. Must be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and have a familiarity with email correspondence (i.e. Outlook or Lotus Notes). Attention to detail, analytical skills, strong interpersonal skills, and effective written and oral communication are also necessary.
  • Editorial: A structured ten-week summer internship is available for students typically between their junior and senior year of college who are interested in Editorial careers. The program offers students the opportunity to learn from publishing professionals. We also sponsor several informational luncheons and special projects during the summer to provide an overview of the entire publishing process. The program dates are May 26 - August 7, 2009, work hours are M-F, 8:30-4:30pm. This intern will work with the Dummies Editorial department and will split their time between the Consumer and Technology groups. Some responsibilities include; reviewing page proofs, preparing manuscripts for editing, and attending various department meetings. Additional responsibilities may include; copying and labeling art, maintaining a database of art contract data, and general administrative tasks. Requirements: Enrolled in a degree program at a College or University. Good written and oral communication skills, exceptional attention to detail, effective problem solving skills, time-management skills, and the ability to work independently. Must be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and have a familiarity with email correspondence (i.e. Outlook or Lotus Notes).
Contact information for inquiring about internship opportunities in Hoboken, Indianapolis, San Francisco, and the Boston area is here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Resume Tips from an Art Director

Wise, true, and snarky art director India Amos is trying to hire an assistant. But oh, the horrors she's seen! Read all about it here.

All I can say is: People! Get a clue! Proof your resume and cover letter--multiple times! Ask friends to proof your documents, too. Better yet, hire someone to edit, or completely overhaul, your resume. Use some common sense, pay attention to detail, and spend a little time learning something about the company to which you are applying (for example, how to spell its name). This is not a climate in which employers are going to be forgiving for slackness. There are still jobs to be had, but not for the people who don't put a lot of effort into honing their presentations.

Monday, March 9, 2009

New Blog Focuses on Media Careers

It is with a mixture of graciousness, chagrin, and envy that I point out the recent startup of MediaBistro's MediaJobsDaily blog. The blog, which mixes industry news with job hunting tips, is everything my blog should, would, and could be--if writing this blog was my job.

Editors Rebecca Fox, Becki Heller, and Rachel Kaufman pelt readers continually with pithy and well-researched nuggets on all things related to publishing careers in this topsy-turvy environment.

There's room enough in the blogosphere for everyone, and the more help these days, the better. I'm totally adding this to my feeds.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

FedEx Offers Free Resume Printing on March 10

This just in from headquarters in Memphis: If you stop by any FedEx Office location (formerly known as Kinkos), they will print 25 copies of your resume for free. See details here.

That's a stroke of genius, I say. This is going to spread like wildfire and FedEx is going to get lots of publicity--mark my words. Granted, a larger percentage of people are now just e-mailing their resumes or pasting them into databases. Still, it's good to have a printed resume when you go to the interview.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

If the Pride and Prejudice Characters Were on Facebook...

...this is what their newsfeed would look like. Brilliant! Thanks to Anne for pointing me toward this--it made my day!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ten Speed Press Acquired

I'm back today after being knocked out of commission by a stomach virus. And the first thing I saw when I opened my e-mail was the Publishers Lunch newsletter, with an article about the recent acquisition of our competitor, Ten Speed Press, by Random House. Publishers Weekly also has a report on the sale here, which has apparently been brewing for some time.

Ten Speed is by no means a one-trick pony, although I think it's safe to assume that What Color Is Your Parachute? is, in the words of a former publishing exec, "the horse they all ride," having sold 10 million copies.

This is significant in that I believe Ten Speed to have been the final independent career publisher (the jury is still out as to whether we are still considered independent--it depends on your definition). We saw what happened when Adams Media was acquired by F+W: It grew by leaps and bounds from the infusion of capital. But today it's a whole different game. Nobody has any capital. Odds are, RH is hoping to drain a little of the Parachute action to rejuvenate itself (not that I'm comparing it to Voldemort, or anything).

So, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Meanwhile, I made the best of a sick day yesterday by watching the Becoming Jane DVD I got for Christmas. Beautiful movie--if you are an Austen fan, you must see it. I cried so hard that my fever went back up again. But it was worth it!