NAPW: How is the economy affecting your industry?
Rusaw: The economy in general has been improving over the last eight years. However, things are still uncertain, particularly for those who are living on fixed incomes. I am a writer and have seen the landscape of publishing change drastically—to a much more market-based approach—than ever before. You have to invest more of your resources (particularly money and technology) to be considered for publishing.
NAPW: Complete the following sentence: If I had all the money in the world, I would _____.
Rusaw: One of the things I have learned is that you really don’t need fortunes to live on; just enough for basic living. Too many people lack even this, however, and fail to reach their potential. I would invest the money in organizations that would improve basic needs, such as health and education.
NAPW: Name an example of when you were able to contribute to a team project.
Rusaw: Where I used to work, we did leadership development for an organization of over 200,000. Many of our programs were apportioned to separate agencies, however, and we had little ideas about how they were used and what the costs were. Our director wanted to get this information as a cost-cutting measure. Setting up coordinating meetings, identifying areas that were unneeded or inefficient was difficult. We had to rely on other people’s expertise in program evaluation, interviewing, and research knowledge to get by. It wasn’t easy, but we were able to get the job done through collaboration and networking.
NAPW:What does your company do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?
Rusaw: Going back to where I used to work before becoming a writer, we faced a lot of cutbacks. When this happens, training and development are usually the first to be downsized. This happened, leaving many areas of professional development dried up. It left large gaps in people’s career development and resulted in several types of dysfunctions, particularly in management and supervisory skills. One of my tasks was to find training at no cost for employees. It was very difficult and what usually came up were general, whitewashed forms that weren’t even worth the cost of downloading. Fortunately, we had some in-house talent that stepped up and provided “brown bag” discussions on topics of interest. I’ve worked in training and development for over 20 years and believe that reducing its scope and resources endangers the future of a workplace by not having the skilled people ready to perform. It is also more expensive, since there will be increased turnover, lack of talented leadership, and lowered productivity and morale.
Napw: What are some job search tips you can share with fellow members seeking employment?
Rusaw: For me, what has worked is being involved in professional networks—showing what you can do on a volunteer basis. You would be surprised at who sees this and remembers. When you interact with professionals in a particular field over time, it can build up your credibility and help you get the type of job you want. The key to successful job hunting is staying involved and doing as much as you can. It’s a small world, but professional associations often attract the most recognized experts in a field.
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