How to Survive a Layoff in Journalism (Part 1)

by meganrozsa on July 21, 2014

It’s been a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean a LONG time. So, hello! We’re back! And we’ve got some new content for you after one year of straight nothin’ (sorry about that).

So what have we been up to? Well, for one thing, we were both laid off from our respective journalism jobs. I know… GASP! The dreaded layoff. Yes, it is everything you fear it will be from the first inkling that it will happen until it actually happens. Stomach in knots, constant dread, panic, denial, loss of motivation, sleep all day, clean your apartment like mad because you don’t know what else to do, pet all the hair off your cat/dog, eat too much chocolate. Repeat.

And then the ax falls. You’re laid off.

 

 

At the time, I (Megan) was working for Patch.com as a community editor. I held a total of three roles in my three years at Patch. The one I loved most was being a local editor for Fairlawn-Bath Patch (don’t click that link because it’s nothing like it used to be and it makes me sad. It’s a link for SEO, tbh). But when I was laid off, I was recruiting bloggers for all 17 of the Northeast Ohio Patch sites. It was fun. I reached out to community organizations, PR people, politicians, and random people just asking if they’d like to please copy and paste their press release into a Patch blog. It created user-generated content for our sites, which was the goal of Patch in the first place. The editors filled it with newsy content and the bloggers filled it with the voice of the community. It was awesome, but it wasn’t making money. At least not in Northeast Ohio.

I was laid off on Aug. 23, 2013, after a week  of wondering whether it would really happen. I was in the first batch of layoffs in Ohio, the second came in October. We were all given a conference call-in where some British sounding person told us we wouldn’t be reporting for work the next day. It was sad. I was sad. I believed in Patch. If I had the money, I would have tried to start my own Patch up again (but who are we kidding? We’re broke).

So I had to live the laid off life, and I’m here to tell you that there is life after a layoff. And you know what? It’s pretty damn sweet. So to the meat and potatoes of this post: How I survived my journalism layoff.

1. Take the time to panic for one whole day. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to pout. And it’s definitely OK to stomp around your house throwing a temper tantrum. You worked hard! You didn’t deserve it! Why, god, why?! How will I ever find another journalism job?!

2. You good? Now realize that it had nothing to do with you. Nothing.

3. With a layoff comes a severance package. If you’re as lucky as I was, it’s a decent severance package. (I’ve never typed out the phrase “severance package” before. They’re literally severing your ties with the company! End revelation.) So rest assured knowing that you still have some money coming in.

4. With that in mind, take a few days to get your life back. Usually journos forget they have a life after working so damn hard every day (including weekends). You probably have some friends you forgot about when work consumed your soul. Find them again, have some coffee. Reconnect.

5. If you had any idea that a layoff was coming (like I did), start putting your resume out there ASAP. If it’s a total surprise, then put it out there when you’re ready. Set up job alerts on websites like Indeed.com, MediaBistro and JournalismJobs.com. These are great resources. Join tons of groups on LinkedIn related to your field and check the “Jobs” section. If you’re a member of some alumni group on Facebook, post in there that you’re looking.

6. Accept any interview that comes your way.

One of the great things about working for Patch was all the training we got. I didn’t realize it at the time (no one likes training at the time), but it really made me stand out among the other applicants. I had all these skills that I didn’t realize I had until I had to spell it out on my resume/tell the interviewer.

When I found out I was getting laid off, I immediately posted in my Daily Kent Stater alumni group that I was looking for a job. Someone got back to me within the day asking if I knew how to do social media. Heck yes, I did! I sent my resume, cover letter and clips to my now boss that very day. I applied before the job description was even written, and within the week, I was hired.

I am truly lucky that it worked out that way. And I couldn’t be happier. I love my job. I work as a social media manager for a group of B2B healthcare magazines that are based in Cleveland and NYC. I get to go to conferences and cover them live, and I’m learning about a topic that I didn’t have any previous knowledge of. I still get to write occasionally, but mostly I promote our editorial content on social media and help out with some marketing.

I am thankful for the training I received at Patch, and I miss that job every day, but I realized that it really was time for me to move on. Recruiting bloggers wasn’t my favorite thing. I was ready to be in the thick of it again. Planning and covering conferences is so fun. Live tweeting is one of my favorite things. And I love watching our social media following grow.

I smell another blog post about what I do now later on. For now, I’m signing off. Stay tuned for Kelly’s survival tips!

Love,

Megan

 

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