Today, I spoke with Anita Bruzzese, who is a nationally syndicated columnist on the workplace and award-winning journalist. You might have seen her work in your local newspaper or in USA Today. In this interview, Anita weighs in on career development versus personal brand management, how she got her role as a syndicated columnist, if print media is dead and more.
Do you see career development morning into personal brand management anytime soon? Why or why not?
I think they have to go hand-in-hand. I think having one without the other has come back to bite a lot of people, big time. Too many people made the mistake of networking only within their industry, or promoting themselves only as part of a company. So, when that industry or that company got into trouble, these people were left with few options.They didn’t develop a personal brand that could stand on its own.
“I think as part of any career someone must always be working on developing a personal brand that distinguishes them, no matter who they work for or what industry they are in.”
How did you become a syndicated columnist? What were the challenges?
It’s one of those cases of being in the right time at the right place with the right skills. I was doing a workplace column for a Gannett-owned newspaper in Pensacola. Gannett News Service called the business editor there one day and said,”We’re looking for some new columns. Got anything interesting?” He mentioned me, and GNS immediately picked up my column. It was one of the first in the country written by a journalist covering careers and the workplace, and immediately became one of Gannett’s most popular columns. It’s been running for almost 16 years. As you can imagine, the challenge has been — and continues to be — providing readers with the best information I can to help them on their jobs. Right now, I feel an even greater responsibility because of this bad job market. Every week I interview someone who has been laid off, and it’s tough.
Everyone is talking about the economy and there is a lot of advice. What are we missing?
While I’ve interviewed a lot of people who have lost jobs, the vast majority of them say they see it as a chance to learn and grow, to start a new chapter in their lives. So, what are we missing? We’re missing the chance to learn a lesson about ourselves, and our future. The lessons may be different for different people, but they’re there. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by to really get something special out of this moment in your life.
If someone left web 2.0 tools out of their job search, how much longer would it take them to get a job and why?
I think it is one of the many tools you need in your search. Just like you shouldn’t be expected to survive in the wilderness with only a shovel, you need to understand you can’t job search with only one tool. So, participate in the the social media world. Check jobs online. But still go to face-to-face networking events, contact your alumni association for help, take some new classes. In this job market, it’s smart ot use all the tools at your disposal. I will say that most employers tell me they still give much more weight to a job applicant who has personally been recommended by another employee, or referred by someone they trust. That still appears to be the fast track to a job.
What are your thoughts about “the death of print”? Do you think everything will be online in 3 years?
Watching great newspapers close their doors or dramatically cut their staff has been painful. These are often friends of mine, or people whose work I have respected for many years. They are responsible for not just putting out a newspaper every day, but for exposing wrongdoings and making sure that everyone gets their story told.
Most of us in print did not take the job because we wanted to earn big money (newspapers don’t pay well, never have), but because we felt a real calling to tell the stories of our communities. I don’t think everything will be online in three years. Books continue to be popular, even in this bad economy. So, I think there will always be people who want the experience of holding that newspaper or magazine or book in their hands. But, I think many publications will go online, and be much more localized — such as you now see with neighborhood blogs. But I hope for our sake as a free nation we don’t ever lose newspapers.
Anita Bruzzese is a nationally syndicated columnist on the workplace and award-winning journalist. Also a highly rated speaker, she has addressed audiences on topics ranging from taking control of your career, avoiding workplace blunders and responsible business blogging. She has appeared on The Today show, been interviewed on public radio and been quoted in many national publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour and BusinessWeek.com. Her first book, “Take This Job and Thrive” was critically acclaimed as “rendered with rousing spirit” and “sound, commonsense ideas, couched in encouragement.” (Booklist). She has been quoted in numerous publications, such as WashingtonPost.com, and a book on Fortune 500 hiring practices. She has been on radio shows nationwide as a workplace expert, and appears on USAToday.com, CareerBuilder.com, AOL’s Find a Job and the Boston Herald’s Jobfind.