Back to Basics - How to get a job in Publishing

Back to Basics - How to get a job in Publishing

Publishing CV advice

So... your bedroom floor is piled high with books, you’re the most well read of all of your friends and you know your Yeats from your Keats. Unfortunately, a love of books and of reading does not equate to a foot in the door at a publishing house. More’s the pity, right?

Lucky for you, there are some clear-cut ways to stand out from the literary crowd.


What to put on...

Work experience

Can work experience ever be stressed enough? Probably not.  Until reading becomes a certified qualification, work experience should remain high up your priority list. Make it work for you by applying for experience directly related to what you want to do. A CV will stand out all the more if the work experience placements are geared towards a particular goal, e.g. 3 placements in design departments, rather than be spread out all over the sectors.

Skill sets

You want to make it as easy for an employer to hire you as possible. So if you’ve got the work experience, why not add office skills to your talents as well?  Who wouldn’t hire a candidate who knows their way around a publishing house and is also a whizz on the photocopier.

Another thing to consider is media convergence- a lot of publishing houses are starting to think about how they need to adapt to new technology- like the Kindle and its competitors. Online and digital skills which could help take a company forward are going to continue to be a huge asset.


There are always extra things that can really make your CV sparkle- be it mentioning you’re a blogger, attending events like The London Book Fair or becoming a member of The Society of Young Publishers. It’s also becoming quite well known that potential employers will check out candidates on social networking sites before interviewing them- if an employer looked at your Twitter, what would they find?

Make sure you stay connected with like minded people- you can swap tips and network together.


Style Tips

As a general rule, employers initially spend about 3 seconds scanning a C.V. sifting out the candidates they want to see from those they don’t.  Most candidates will have similar experience and skills at this stage so what is it that makes some C.V. s more successful than others?

Essential attributes of a successful C.V. are that it should be:

·         Bulletpoint: keep it short, to the point and focused. A busy employer will have limited time to look at and judge a CV, so make sure your selling points leap out of the page and grab their attention.

·         Clear - in presentation as well as in writing style.  Use bold to highlight headings (avoid underlining).  Choose a font and size that is easy to read e.g. Times New Roman 12, or Verdana or Arial, 10. 

·         Concise - remember the short time your C.V. is given by the employer and that you have the opportunity to expand in your covering letter.  Try to stick to 2 sides of A4.  Bullet points are useful - a CV which is laid out like an essay can be difficult and time-consuming to read.

·         Accurate - mistakes and typos are not acceptable in a C.V. and you will probably not be successful if there are any included in yours.  Don’t just rely on spell check you need to check this on a hard copy and get others to check over it too.

·         Relevant - when detailing responsibilities, experiences and skills try to remember to make these as relevant as possible to the job you’re applying to.


To bear in mind...

Don’t restrict yourself

Around 70% of current graduates want to work in Editorial. Don’t restrict yourself to joining the masses of applicants for Editorial entry level roles, like editorial assistants. It may not be impossible to get the jobs, especially if you follow the other tips, but it will be all the more difficult to get yourself seen. Check out other roles and be honest with yourself about where your skills lie.

Do your research

Make sure you know the difference between the industries and the sectors. If you do want to work in Editorial, is that trade, or academic? Fiction or non-fiction? In an interview situation, you need to make sure you can demonstrate knowledge of how the industry works, and can show that you’re focused on what you want to achieve. An employer is much more likely to sit up and take notice of an applicant who can show confidence with publishing, rather than someone who doesn’t know where, with whom or how they want to work.


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