How to prepare just in case….

October 19, 2009 at 3:43 pm Leave a comment

Not to start off the work week on a downbeat note but word is out that there will be layoffs hitting several well-known news organizations in the next few weeks; more D.C. journalism jobs are likely to be casualties. Given that and the general climate in our industry, I thought it would be good to pass along some advice — gleaned from my own experience and the experience of colleagues and friends, along with tips from financial planners and job counselors — about what to do before a layoff to put yourself in the best position going forward if your job is indeed cut.

*Amass an emergency fund. Financial planners still say six months’ worth of living expenses (or more, of course) is a good amount to have in an emergency fund if you are worried about losing your job. This fund — along with whatever severance or separation pay you would receive — provides not only a financial cushion but an emotional one; knowing the money is there will give you some time to find the right position rather than having to accept the first offer that comes along. And while six months of living expenses sounds like a lot, remember that that amount does not figure in taxes (as it’s not an income figure, it’s the amount you’d be spending) and you should subtract such work-related expenses as parking and commuting costs, lunches, etc., that you would no longer face after a job loss. If both you and a spouse or partner are working, each of you should start making weekly contributions to this fund. Though financial planners are typically reluctant to recommend cutting back on retirement-fund contributions, this is a case where you might want to consider doing that — as the last thing you want to tap is a retirement fund because of penalties and the tax hit. The emergency monies should be placed in a cash fund — like a bank money-market account — readily available to you and from which you can draw upon regularly as needed until you’re working again.

*Pay down credit cards and try to cut other recurring costs (if you’re close to paying off a car loan or a home-improvement loan, for instance, try to do that) to lower your monthly expenses. Put off major expenses — such as home renovations or big trips — if possible. If you’re looking to refinance, do so before a layoff — most lenders require proof of employment for home refinancings.

*Worry about your health care insurance now, before a layoff. If you can switch to your spouse or partner’s health care plan — even if the benefits are not as good as those offered by your current employer — take steps right away to make that happen. Sometimes these switches can take time (or can happen only during “open-enrollment periods”) and employers often time layoffs to the end of the month, sometimes giving laid-off employees only a few days of remaining coverage before their health insurance runs out at the current cost. Coverage is available to most laid-off employees through COBRA (please see the Oct. 13 blog post for information on COBRA coverage for those who need it) but it is almost always more expensive than what you can get by switching to your spouse or partner’s plan. If that isn’t an option, start doing the math now on what it would cost to insure you or your dependents under COBRA, and figure that in to your monthly expenses.

*Think about your data and ways to back up and preserve information — especially if you keep some personal information such as a calendar or contacts with your work calendar on a BlackBerry,  laptop or mobile phone provided by your employer. Download personal information — of course, not company-sensitive information that belongs to your employer — and back it up on your home computer, laptop, personal BlackBerry, personal cellphone or IPhone. If you don’t have personal mobile devices, get them; even if it means carrying around several devices for a while — much better to have duplicate calendars for a while then to have to reconstitute your personal data from scratch in the aftermath of a job cut. As many of us have discovered lately, you may have very little time in the event of a mass layoff before having to hand over company-provided devices. And a low-tech tip: Print out lists of contacts and calendar pages, for example, as another backup in case data is lost. If you’ve let a personal email account become dormant, revive it and start using that account for all non-work contacts — get news lists and list-serves from your kids’ schools, for instance, sent to that account now; it’ll be one less thing to worry about later.

*Get your network ready. You’ll want to be able to tap your so-called network (is there a better word for this? I’d love to find one) right after a layoff, so it’s better to be in touch with people now. Make sure you have updated email addresses and mobile phone numbers for your contacts. If you can, let them know that you’re worried about a layoff, and that you’ll be in touch either way to let them know what happens. Update your social-networking accounts so these are ready to go as well.

*And on a positive note, think about one or two things that you just don’t have the time or flexibility to do (like starting a blog!) in your current job. Promise yourself that if you lose your job, the “silver lining” will be that you’ll now find time for this activity or adventure — and then do it. It will be like a “layoff bonus” and will make you feel better about things.

*Some good news to report (in a string of what I hope will be many happy landings soon; please let me know when you or another Washington job seeker finds a good position!)…Annie Johnson, a Committee Votes reporter at CQ (and much beloved for her previous stint as a terrific editorial assistant), is heading to a business magazine covering Southwestern Virginia, owned by the Roanoke Times. (and this is a good job-hunting lesson as Annie used to work for the Roanoke Times, and got back in touch with her former employer)…Her last day at CQ is Oct. 29; she starts her new job on Nov. 3.  Congratulations, Annie!

As always, I’ve included some job  listings. Please keep ’em coming — either send to me here or to or through Facebook. And if you have a position you want to mention to me but don’t want it posted, feel free to contact me and I’ll send you some good recruits!

*Center for Public Integrity
Communications Manager
Location: Washington, D.C

Do you want to hold governments and corporations accountable to the public trust? If so, we want you.

The Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit investigative journalism organization in Washington, D.C., is looking for a communications manager to head up its media and outreach efforts. This position is responsible for raising the profile of the Center, marketing and distributing its investigations, and increasing its impact. This position reports to the managing editor. The communications manager is responsible for helping to develop and implement outreach strategies for distribution (including reaching out to domestic and international news media, NGOs, and regulatory agencies), and tracking impact for each project. She or he drafts press releases and op eds, oversees the newsletter and awards submissions for investigative projects, and supervises the Center’s media and outreach coordinators. In addition, he or she provides assistance to the outreach efforts of the Center’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalism.

The ideal candidate should have a minimum of three years of media, organizing, and/or public relations experience and a demonstrated fluency with social/viral media and online marketing and distribution techniques. Experience using Convio/GetActive or other online marketing/constituent management systems a plus. We are looking for a strong manager and an energetic self-starter with clear writing skills, strong people skills, sustained attention to detail, and superior organizational skills.

This is not a reporting position. Salary is $55.000; excellent benefits. We are located at Farragut Square with easy access to Metro (red, orange, and blue lines). We are committed to diversity in the workplace.

No calls please. Send resume and cover letter to commsmanager@cpi before October 31, 2009.

*Smart Grid Today (MMI Corp)
Reporter ­

Location: Washington, D.C.
Smart Grid Today, the world’s only daily professional news journal on the modernization of the electric utility industry, is hiring a full-time reporter to cover one of the most important and timely business news topics of the decade. Telecommuting position, equipment provided. The federal government is about to dole out more than $4 billion to help promote this emerging industry, and experts agree it’s recession-proof and quickly headed for trillions in spending worldwide. Join a team headed by experienced, respected business news editors. Cover the world in which utility operations, “green” power generation and in-home networks converge to create the “intelligent” electric utility and “smart” homes and business of the future. Topics include utility communication networks, in-home/business power automation and monitoring, automated meter reading, electric distribution grid monitoring and remote controls, municipal applications, financing, and regulatory and policy issues. This post covers Washington, for starters.  Some travel required.


• the ability to produce 1,000-1,500 words/day of smart, tightly written news copy

• great nose for news and advanced interviewing skills

• demonstrated enterprise reporting skills

• the ability to speedily distill complex material into copy smart grid executives cannot do without

• a clear appreciation for not only accurate but precise writing

Salary negotiable. Send resume and cover letter to Sam Spencer at

*Dow Jones Newswires
Translator/Copy Editor
Location: U.S. based
Dow Jones Newswires is looking for a Translator/Copy Editor to join our Japanese Language
Service. The position involves the translation of Dow Jones’ English language business and financial market news into Japanese and the editing of translated articles from other members of the team. The successful candidate should have experience as a Japanese-to-English translator, preferably in the financial field. Native level Japanese writing and English reading ability is required. A good understanding of financial markets and experience in real-time financial journalism will be a significant advantage. This position is part-time, for a 30-hour week, Monday to Friday. We’re looking for someone in the U.S. who would either work in one of our offices on the east or west coast, or from home. We offer a competitive compensation package and the opportunity to work for one of the world’s leading financial and business news companies. To apply, please visit and search for job number 090382.

*The next two positions are junior editing positions that could be a good start to an editing career for the right person. The first one was sent by an email correspondent who knows a bit about the job — please contact me if you’re interested and I’ll put you in touch with the listing source for more info.

Subject: Job Posting: The American Prospect seeks associate editor

Hey people who know people,

Wanted to let you know about this job opening at TAP:

*And here is the other:

Assistant Editor
Wilson Quarterly
Announcement number: WC-10-01T
Download WC-10-01T – PDF

OPENING DATE: October 14, 2009
CLOSING DATE: October 20, 2009
SERIES/GRADE: $33, 269 per year
WHO MAY APPLY: All qualified candidates may apply.

More info is available at:

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

When the interviewer becomes the interviewee…. Job-hunting and the Tax Man

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