By Jim Gold
Jilted journalists should be good at reinventing ourselves -- once we get over the shock, dismay, frustration and resentment likely to come with losing our jobs.
We may need help moving along.
That's where career coaches like Madhu Krishnappa Maron come in.
She and other coaches don't have all the answers, but they help you find your answers by bringing out your resourcefulness.
And who's more resourceful than a journalist?
"A journalist walks down the street and sees stories others don't see," Maron said.
"They have investigative skills, they develop sources. That's valuable in many fields of work. Look beyond the obvious; you can do anything."
Maron describes herself on her Web site as "a certified professional coach specializing in helping individuals create more fulfilling careers."
Although she's not a journalist, she has worked with them as a human resources executive at Freedom Communications and The Associated Press.
"There were so many smart people around there," Maron told Jilted Journalists.
That was then. At the end of July, The Associated Press said goodbye to more than 100 employees who took voluntary buyouts in news, technology and business units.
Industry-wide, more than 25,000 journalists since early 2008 have lost jobs that are never coming back in their old form.
"Traditional journalism jobs are disappearing," Maron said. "In a world where everything is shrinking, you need to expand your view."
Laid-off people are angry and upset and they have to work out their emotions.
"But it really is an opportunity to explore what's out there, even though people get pissed off when I tell them that."
Why journalists rate
You have to look inward to look outward, and that can be a tough job for a journalist.
"Journalists are used to looking outward, it's a struggle for them to look inward. You're so immersed in journalism, you don't see how your skills work elsewhere," Maron said.
"But they're passionate people, they care about what's going on. That's why they're in journalism, they have a sense of service, mission, passion (that's what I liked about being at The AP and being part of that). It's why people spend 20, 30, 40 years in their careers."
She said to look beneath your resume's surface at the deeper skills and capabilities that you can transfer to a different field.
Maron described journalists as resourceful, persistent and creative.
See where your skills and passions intersect.
"Boil things down to the lowest common denominator and see where your skills and passions intersect."
Why Maron rates
Maron lived through layoff and reinvention herself.
She was named human resources director at Freedom Technology Media Group in December 2000 and promoted to vice president the following year.
That was the era of the dot-com-bubble burst of 2000 and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in 2001.
Freedom Communications cited a faltering economy and shut down its magazine division.
"I had to communicate all that," Maron said.
"I laid off everyone else and then myself."
She recalled having the same anger, frustration and resentment she sees in laid-off clients now.
"I was laid off; I took it personally. Why me? How could they do this?"
She re-evaluated her human-resources training and skills, reinvented herself and in 2003 launched MadhuCoach. Her clients include actors, writers, media executives, restaurant managers, photojournalists, designers, sales professionals and educators.
She's seen changes in industries all around her. Growing up in Detroit she watched the auto industry fall apart and engineers and techs expecting pensions have to figure out how to go through transitions. In New York City, she's seen fallout in the retail and apparel trades.
Clients used to set out two- to three-year timelines for making transitions. With layoffs mounting, she finds more clients in panic mode and at a loss about what to do next. They don't feel their prospects are very good after putting their all for 15 or 20 or more years into careers they're suddenly leaving behind, perhaps with only a few weeks' severance pay.
The best time to take on clients is when they are losing jobs, Maron said.
"It's hit them; it's reality now."
She said clients have to go through the emotional whirlwind of being let go with no regard. She helps clients work through their anger first so they can shorten the process of mourning their jobs.
"You have to shrink that time of reaction and move to a more proactive place," she said. "Otherwise you can stew and it makes it harder to step forward."
Making yourself rate
Maron encourages clients to tap more into their creative minds.
"The old way of working has gone away; we have to figure out a new way of using our talents."
She says to focus on how to start bringing in something.
One client looking for work in the apparel industry had the passion and talent for refinishing furniture and playing guitar. It's slow-going but he's establishing an income stream and building a clientele.
"It's better than sitting at the computer all day sending out resumes and feeling like you're not getting anywhere," Maron said.
Compare your situation to a breaking news story vs. an in-depth piece, she said.
"If there's a fire across the street, you run and call the newspaper. Journalists are great in a crisis, and they are also great at longer pieces. How does that work when planning a career? The building on fire is like being in a crisis mode, but you're still thinking about the longer piece, what's coming six, eight, 12 months down the road. You're using both heads at the same time."
You can't apply crisis mode to career development but you can't forget about longer-term planning once the fire is out either.
"Take the first step and see where it leads."
From a recent newsletter to clients from Madhu Krishnappa Maron:
Change brings both loss and opportunity.When change happens, we tend to fcus first on the loss and fear that come with that change. With our fears leading the way, we find ourselves blaming others, sitting on the sidelines, complaining and feeling personally attacked.When we acknowledge our true feelings about change, we can move past them and create a more empowering way to navigate what's ahead. We can begin to explore what's possible for us in this new reality. Rather than focusing on all that we cannot control, we focus on what we can.
Reflect on these questions:
Practical tips for focusing on possibility
Madhu Maron spent 15 years as a Human Resources professional with The Associated Press, Standard & Poor's, Computer Sciences Corporation, New York City Economic Development Corporation and a variety of other organizations. She was director of staffing and diversity at the Associated Press. She was Freedom Communications' Human Resources Manager for the Northeastern region before becoming vice president of human resources of Freedom Technology Media Group.