Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter and Elle’s Robbie Myers are leaving their magazines and their likely successors are external; how to put your name forward as an internal candidate
Updated: September 12, 2017
Is it the end of an era or the dawning of a new one?
Vanity Fair’s long-serving editor-in-chief Graydon Carter announced last week that he was leaving his post at the storied Condé Nast title after a quarter century at the top. The 68-year-old Canadian-born journalist, restaurateur and longtime nemesis of Donald Trump told the New York Times that he wanted time to create a “third act” in his life. Shortly after, Elle magazine big Robbie Myers too said in a note to her staff that she would be bailing out after 16 years at the Hearst women’s title.
Speculation was immediately rife as to who would ascend to the two plum positions open at the top of the New York media world. Janice Min, who ran Us Weekly before rejuvenating the once-sleepy Hollywood Reporter, was immediately touted as a likely successor to Carter. New York magazine’s Adam Moss is also viewed as a top contender. Meanwhile, Hearst Magazines announced Tuesday that Myers would be replaced by Marie Claire creative director Nina Garcia.
Notice something missing? None of the names include people who work at the publications in need of new leadership (Garcia had a stint at Elle a decade ago.) This is a dilemma that extends beyond the number twos and threes at glossy titles: according to a 2016 LinkedIn survey, 24% of workers say they’re open to a job outside a company because of being passed over for a promotion.
The key thing is not to be shy about the fact that you want the promotion. “Just be direct and go to the board of directors and say, ‘I know you’re considering other people, here’s why I want to be considered,’” says Kristina Leonardi, a New York careers consultant.
There are two benefits to doing so. Firstly, it demonstrates that you’ve got a commitment to growing within the company. Depending on how close you are to the top decision makers, that’s something they might not know and emphasizing it could help you. Second, it gives you information about where your current job is headed. “You may learn that they want to shake up things and go in one particular direction, or be offered the chance to run a different department,” Leonardi says. “Asserting yourself that way gives you information on the direction of your career. What do you have to lose?”
Oftentimes, the need for fresh blood is because the top brass isn’t happy with the status quo and you need to show that your internal history isn’t a hindrance. So if you do get asked to interview, it’s crucial that you show yourself capable of taking the company in a new direction. “Just because you work there doesn’t mean they’ll take you seriously,” says Roy Cohen, author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “Offer them a strategy that shows what you’re going to do different. Do your homework and have creative ideas with [a plan] to execute.”
It’s when drafting such a plan that you can show your past experience is a help, not a hindrance. “If you’re competing with someone on the outside, they don’t have access to the information you do,” says Cohen. “They won’t have that level of insight.”
Also, recognize that being passed over the first time isn’t necessarily a death sentence. “You can just wait it out and strategize,” says Cohen, adding that when outsiders are brought into a messy business situation, they often fail. A 2011 report by Indiana University and A.T. Kearney, for example suggests that external chief execs cost more and produce less. “There’s an unrealistic expectation that they’ll do something different and someone’s got to be there to pick up the pieces.”
This story was updated on September 12 2017 with news of Nina Garcia’s appointment at Elle.
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