Making a decision on a buyout

December 11, 2009 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment

Though layoffs are a reality for many journalists these days, others may have a trickier decision to make (as at least a layoff isn’t voluntary so there’s no decision!) — whether to take a voluntary buyout from your news organization. Thousands of journalists have been faced with this decision in recent years and with news about buyouts at the New York Times and other organizations in the news lately, it seemed a good time to look at what to consider when deciding whether to take a buyout.

Experts say the first rule is to use the time between announcement of the buyouts and the deadline for making your decision (often 30 to 60 days, sometimes more) to do some serious research, not only into the financial implications of a buyout but what this could mean for your future career. Also, they say checking into what could happen to your job if you don’t take the buyout is an important part of your research.

*Financial and career experts say these are some calculations one should make when figuring out whether to take a buyout:

*Carefully examine the entire package being offered to you — not just the bottom-line dollar amount being offered (usually determined by a combination of your age and years of experience at the company, and sometimes your position) but all of the details. Will this be a lump sum or will it be paid out over time? Do you have a choice in how you will receive the payment? Especially if it’s a lump sum, what are the tax implications of the buyout? How will this payment affect your pension or other retirement benefits from the company? What about health insurance? Will your employer continue to contribute to your health insurance for a set period, and what about retiree health insurance? This is obviously a huge question: If your spouse or partner has health insurance and for instance is a federal employee who will receive retiree health benefits, it may not be a big consideration for you in a buyout decision. But if you have to find health insurance for yourself or dependents, that could be a huge financial consideration. In this case do some calculations on how much health insurance could cost. And don’t forget about figuring in the cost of other benefits you are now receiving from your employer such as dental and vision care, life insurance, disability insurance, and perhaps a health club membership.

*Think hard about what you want to do with the rest of your career. Carefully consider what other jobs you are likely to get — go ahead and do some hunting before you make this decision — and figure that into your calculations. In this tight journalism job market you may not be able to find full-time work (and it’s highly likely not at the salary you have commanded) for some time and may be living off of your buyout proceeds. How long can you afford to do that? Is there part-time work or consulting work you may be able to snare to supplement your buyout income? Be realistic about your job prospects and career goals  going forward in figuring out whether this makes sense for you.

*Talk to your current employer about whether you may able to do some contract work (some news organizations are allowing bought-out workers, under contract, to effectively continue their current role for some time — in some cases up to a year, until the company can fill that key position) or free-lance work after the buyout. This is an option that can help financially but may also  ease the transition out of your current job and would be a “calling card” to other organizations.

*Research what is likely to happen to your position if you don’t take the buyout. Even though it may be an uncomfortable conversation, initiate discussions with your supervisor or others in management at your news organization about whether they are recommending you take the buyout. If they don’t try to talk you out of it, your future there may be in jeopardy if you don’t take the buyout — take this information seriously. Try to determine the likelihood of a post-buyout layoff and your likelihood of being part of that. Research your company’s severance policy and compare what you’d get under severance with the buyout offer. Usually the buyout offers are more generous (as companies are hoping to avoid the pain and suffering of layoffs for all involved) but not always. (In a buyout you also typically get a better deal with health insurance and your pension than you would in a layoff.) Also, it’s usually better to take a buyout as you are in control. And even if you remain at the company after a buyout, might you be transferred to a less desirable position and perhaps required to take a pay cut? If you are being “targeted” for a buyout, you need to seriously consider whether this — and a job hunt, even in a lousy market — might be a better option than staying and taking your chances of being let go soon.

*Some job leads to share:

*For you techies out there, the Mathematical Association of America in D.C. is looking for a Web developer/user experience “architect”:

Web Developer / User Experience Architect
Mathematical Association of America – Washington, DC
Coordinate with content editors and contributors… interface design… Strong interpersonal and communication skills as well as close attention to detail…
From washingtonpost.com

The Mathematical Association of America (www.maa.org) seeks a Web Developer / User Experience Architect to ensure that the MAA’s websites provide an excellent user experience, matching the MAA’s goals and vision.

The Web Developer / User Experience Architect will have overall responsibility for a variety of projects in web site design and development.  This will include all of MAA’s web sites as well as the e-Business components. This position designs the user interface and overall customer experience for MAA’s web sites and applications, including overall navigation flow, layout, and creation of individual graphic elements and standards.

Responsibilities of this position are:

  • Design and maintain all Web sites and interfaces with other application.
  • Co-manage the web site re-design project.
  • Coordinate with content editors and contributors.
  • Ensure that all design elements, templates and finished solutions work within a variety of browser types and screen settings along with the constraints set by development and design.
  • Work with marketing and development staff on branding elements, style and approach.
  • Maintain both DEV and PROD environments as well as configuration management.
  • Participate in efforts to improve quality of Web sites and other electronic publications as required.
  • Serve as backup in the IT department for user support and server maintenance.

The Web Developer / User Experience Architect reports to the Director of Information Technology and works closely with the other two IT staff members, a Database Administrator and Network Administrator.

The successful candidate must have:

  • A Bachelor’s degree.
  • A minimum of 4 years of experience in web development and web interface design.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills as well as close attention to detail. Ability to coordinate with internal and external groups.
  • Strong knowledge of HTML, PHP (LAMP), XML, web technologies.
  • Solid understanding of Web 2.0, SSO, .NET, Cold Fusion, and DNN.
  • Knowledge of software including: Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Adobe Flash.
  • Solid understanding of web design best practices including page weight, graphic optimization, search engine optimization, and content management.
  • Expert knowledge of IIS.

Excellent benefits, salary commensurate with credentials and experience.

The Mathematical Association of America, located in the historic Dupont Circle area of Washington DC, is the largest professional society that focuses on mathematics accessible at the undergraduate level.  For more information about the Mathematical Association of America, see www.maa.org.

Please email cover letter, resume, and salary expectations to Calluna Euving, Chief of Staff, E-mail: hr@maa.org.

*For those looking to shift into communications, this communications position at Georgetown University Medical Center in D.C. could be worth examining:

Executive Director, Medical Center Communications – new

Georgetown University – Washington, DC Communications Dept: Medical Center Communications… Executive Director of Communications is the spokesperson and chief communications officer of Georgetown…
From washingtonpost.com

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2009-1051D – Executive Director, Medical Center Communications


Dept: Medical Center Communications
Grade/Level:13
Date Opened December 08, 2009
The Executive Director of Communications is the spokesperson and chief communications officer of Georgetown University Medical Center. The primary responsibility of this position is to support the communication needs of the GUMC EVP. This position is also responsible for the overall planning, management, and implementation of the communications program for Georgetown University Medical Center, coordination of internal and external publications and production, editorial and design services, media relations, internal communications to include input & guidance into sector-based communication strategy, public relations, community relations, and crisis communications. The position plays a major role in positioning the Medical Center among its target publics and internal audiences, including consumers, the media, federal and municipal government agencies, the health care community, donors, other private and public founders, the University and its Board of Directors, and employees. The Executive Director of Communications reports to the Executive Vice President of Georgetown University Medical Center and the Executive Dean of the School of Medicine. The Director of Communications interacts regularly with all Medical Center leaders including deans, sector leaders, chairs, administrators, faculty and staff. The Executive Director of Communications will be a strong and seasoned communicator, with at least ten years of communications experience, preferably in the setting of an academic medical center or other similar environment. The Executive Director should have excellent written and, verbal communications skills; sound news judgment; strong initiative and drive; intellectual curiosity about issues related to health, science, and medicine; and the ability to work both independently collaboratively. The Executive Director should have a strong archive of published writing samples, a track record of media placements and a proven ability to convey complex medical and scientific research in a way that is understandable to the layperson. He/she should be knowledgeable about web design and about the various publication outlets, particularly online publications. Previous experience publishing a magazine or newsletter is required. Knowledge about issues related to science, health and academic medicine are also important. Previous experience at an academic medical center and/or university is important. Experience in a communications/public relations agency is also preferred. Supervisory experience is also important, as is experience working for a CEO, president, vice president, or others in positions of leadership. Masters degree.

*The next two leads are courtesy of mediabistro.com. The first is for a Web administrator for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation in Alexandria’s Web site:

Website Administrator
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
Alexandria, VA

Publication or Company Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
Industry Non-profit
Benefits 401K/403B, Dental, Health
Job Duration Full Time
Job Location Alexandria, VA USA
Job Requirements The Foundation seeks a Website Administrator to manage its content, messaging, online fundraising, and social media presence for a new website scheduled to launch January 2010.

Primary Responsibilities:
– Manage all content on the MCSF website, ensuring site is accurate, up-to-date and incorporates contemporary messages, themes, and communication tactics.
– Create and sustain online registration for over 20 annual national fundraising events, using Blackbaud Net Community and working closely with the Foundations event chairmen, committees, and finance staff.
– Develop the Foundations formal social media policy, standards, and guidelines about how the organization will interact with on-line communities. The administrator shall be responsible as the primary individual for all social media postings and responses to users questions.
– Monitor and engage external online communities by creating a compelling social media voice. Reach out to community leaders via associated mediums. Survey organizational online landscapes that have a similarly associated charter as MCSF to identify potential opportunities. Leverage tools such as Google alerts, blog trackers, Twitter keyword monitors, Facebooks Lexicon, and other tools as appropriate.
– Act as first responder to online issues that require immediate action and coordinate communication messages immediately with other staff members as appropriate. Engage individuals and social media mediums selectively and judiciously so as to maintain the reputation and interests of MCSF.
Proactively create and implement successful and imaginative online fundraising strategies, marketing initiatives, and donor stewardship products such as e-newsletters while working closely with Development staff and Finance department.

Qualifications:
Strong knowledge of Blackbaud Net Community (BBNC), HTML, and Content Management System administration
Marketing and advertising background
Experience in web fundraising and email campaigns
Experience using current social marketing tools to promote a non-profit
Exceptional writing and editing skills, with specific experience in writing for the web
Experience in writing blogs
Strong analytical skills
Proven project management experience
Ability to take initiative and multi-task under pressure
5+ yrs related experience

The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation offers an excellent benefits package to include medical and dental insurance, 403(b) retirement plan, and paid time off.

About Our Company The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF), is a national non-profit based in Alexandria, VA. For nearly 50 years, the Foundation has worked to provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships for higher education to the deserving sons and daughters of Marines and former Marines, with particular attention to those whose parent was killed or wounded in service.

*Finally, the American Hospital Association in D.C. is looking for a staff writer for its publications:

Staff Writer
American Hospital Association
Washington, DC

Publication or Company American Hospital Association
Industry Non-profit
Benefits 401K/403B, Dental
Job Duration Full Time
Job Location Washington, DC USA
Job Requirements The American Hospital Association is seeking a staff writer who is responsible for contributing to both AHA News and AHA News Now, as well as writing for other venues as needed. The incumbent will report and develop stories of interest to AHA members that will help further AHA advocacy initiatives and the mission of the organization.
We require that the incumbent have experience writing for a newspaper and healthcare experience.

Essential Functions

Write clear, concise, and timely stories, articles and reports within the guidelines of good grammar and AHA style (based generally on the Associated Press Stylebook).
Contribute an appropriate share of full-size stories and brief items for the newspaper as well as daily contributions to AHA News Now and other communication vehicles as assigned.
Participate in coverable events for AHA News and News Now, such as expert testimonies, press conferences, and other newsworthy events in order to contribute timely articles for publication.
Craft user-friendly, readable stories of interest by gaining a deep knowledge of the issue and of the AHA’s overall and specific positions relative to the issue.
Interact and work in a collegial office environment; work closely with staff from other departments, such as legislative and policy in order to ensure accurate knowledge of and reporting of issues.

Qualifications

BA degree in journalism or communication
3-5 years experience writing stories, articles, and materials for a newspaper or a healthcare related organization
Excellent computer skills
Ability to work well under pressure and handle multiple deadlines
Ability to work across organizational lines and perform the research necessary to produce clear, concise writing
Desire to learn and understand the healthcare system and the views of the American Hospital Assocation (AHA) and our members
Benefits

We offer an excellent compensation package, which includes medical/dental coverage (PPO/HMO), life insurance, short and long-term disability plans, 401(k), tuition reimbursement, paid vacation/holidays/sick days, and more!

The American Hospital Association (AHA) is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate because of race, color, age, gender, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, medical condition, pregnancy, or disability, and will accommodate individuals with physical and mental disabilities upon request.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS
Please email your resume in MS Word, RTF, HTML, or ASCII text format to the address below. If you wish to enclose a cover letter, please include it in the body of your email message.

41014@aha.hrmdirect.com

About Our Company The American Hospital Association (AHA) is the national organization that represents and serves all types of hospitals, health care networks, and their patients and communities. Close to 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 37,000 individual members come together to form the AHA.

Through our representation and advocacy activities, AHA ensures that members’ perspectives and needs are heard and addressed in national health policy development, legislative and regulatory debates, and judicial matters. Our advocacy efforts include the legislative and executive branches and include the legislative and regulatory arenas.

Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends.

Happy hunting and have a relaxing weekend!

Jodi

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