Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tory Johnson's "Fired to Hired"

Fired to Hired: Bouncing Back from Job Loss to Get to Work Right Now
Author: Tory Johnson
Title: "Fired to Hired: Bouncing Back from Job Loss to Get to Work Right Now"
Publication: Berkley, 2009, ISBN 978-0-425-23055-8, 300 pages, paper, 11 chapters.

Tory Johnson is the founder and owner of “Women for Hire” (link) and often appears on ABC “Good Morning America” to give career and job seeking advice. Much of it is like a practical handbook and pep talk, with familiar tips.

Several aspects of her presentation are interesting, however. First is her own personal story, of how she got fired summarily from NBC news in the 1990s after “journalism scandal” involving reporting on GM, with which she was at most tangentially involved. (I worked for NBC myself as a computer programmer in the financial area in the 1970s.) Could she have been tainted by association? She moved on, to Paramount’s Nickelodeon, staying in public relations. Nickelodeon is interesting to me in that in 2006 I heard its pitch for screenwriting interenships.

She encourages using the Web and social media tools to augment your search, but warns that employers are using them too to check out candidates. But she suggests getting a following on Twitter and Facebook, and with blogs. She suggests that content should be limited to professional areas. That can present a challenge, however. If you blog about your past job, a future employer might fear that you would be inclined to talk about a future job negatively or even disclose trade secrets after quitting some day, a concern that San Diego columnist Michael Hemmingson has led to a practice called “pre-doocing”. Before social media became popular around 2005, I had expressed concerns about the complciations that could occur if people in management or in a position to make decisions about others self-broadcast their views at all in public. But a lot of times it is relatively easy for younger professionals to write about their professional areas in ways that encourages further employer interest. I know a pianist whose blog in interesting and provides an excellent example of personal “professionalism” (look here); another friend has worked mostly in copyright and in the DMCA area since college and can easily present a “coherent” presence online.

Back in 2006, various sources started talking about “online reputation defense” (such as with Michael Fertik’s “Reputation Defender”) and Tory Johnson then wrote a column on ABC News, “cleaning up your digital dirt”.

She also talks about the tension in the workplace between those with families and “singletons” (she uses the word). She maintains that “no group should be rewarded at the expense of another” but provides discussion that this is a most sensitive problem in practice. This reminds me of Elinor Burkett’s 2000 book “The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless".

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