Layoffs have become the dominant story as we near the end of 2008. After writing about the cold economic realities for companies that have had to cut staff, we wanted to find out what it was like for the people who are now unemployed. Just how bad is it out there for new media folks looking for work? We talked with three people at different stages of their job search to see what, exactly, they’re up against.
Sarah Lane was with Revision3 for a year and a half before being laid off at the end of October. While she did a lot at the company, she was best known as the host of popSiren. I spoke with her just a couple weeks after she had been let go.
“It’s great to be unemployed sit in my pajamas for like five minutes,” Lane said. The problem she encountered is that even though there are companies interested in her, there’s just a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the market right now. “Some people have said ‘If I could guarantee that you had a job in a year I’d hire you,'” said Lane. Problem is, those companies can’t guarantee anything right now.
In addition to the lack of jobs, there’s an increase in competition for those jobs. “It’s not just that I’m out of work, there’s a lot of me out of work,” said Lane. In the meantime, she’s taken some freelance work doing consulting and even some video hosting (she won’t say for whom) that will pay the bills and keep her busy through February.
The geek culture web video series EPIC-FU suffered collateral damage as a result of Revision3’s belt-tightening at the end of October. Smashface Productions, which produced EPIC-FU, itself had to let go of an editor and two producers. Among them was Rick Rey, who emailed me his thoughts on looking for new media work a couple weeks ago.
“After I was laid off as Producer of EPIC-FU, I was fortunate enough to quickly pick up some freelance work – affording me the luxury of not rushing into another full-time gig,” he wrote. “It’s not what I want to be doing career-wise, but it pays the bills and it gives me the freedom to be picky about my next move in the new media space.” Some of that freelance work includes writing for EPIC-FU.
Rey said he was weighing his options, which include working for an established network, or even seeking funding for his own projects, but that the idea of going back to a smaller new media startup wasn’t too enticing. “There’s also a few funded new media houses in the LA area that could use an experienced hand, but given the state of the space I’m not confident a horizontal move like that is the most prudent course of action. I don’t want to end up in the same situation 6 months from now,” wrote Rey.
When we checked back in with Rey, he said he’s still freelancing and doesn’t anticipate any new opportunities until after the holidays. And as you’d expect, the time between now and the end of the year is a slow one for companies — a slowdown John Halecky was trying to beat.
Halecky is in a bit of a different position than either Lane or Rey. He was laid off from his position as director of web content and editorial at ReelzChannel back in July. At the time, he figured he’d take his severance, take July and August off, and the start his job search in earnest in September — which is right when the economy went to pot.
Halecky has been actively looking for work since September, searching job board postings and networking through services like LinkedIn, but everywhere he applies, companies say they are on a hiring freeze. He’ll go in for interviews for jobs posted online only to be told that the position will be filled at some point — the company just doesn’t know when.
Thanksgiving was a big deadline for Halecky in his job search. “No one hires between Thanksgiving and the end of the year,” said Halecky. “Nothing will come about until the fiscal budget for 2009.” But when we spoke to him today, Halecky said that he’s still out looking for his next job.
Though it all sounds dire, the one thing all three people I spoke to had was optimism. No one wanted to just take a job to be employed — all three of them were willing to wait for the right opportunity and believed that opportunity would come.
Are you looking for work? What have you found in your search? Leave a comment and let us know.