When applying for a job or internship, your CV and cover letter should be well written and specific to the job you are applying for. Highlight transferable skills from previous experiences, even if they were unpaid or not directly associated with publishing. For example, an administrator needs to have good timekeeping, show attention to detail, and have strong written and verbal communication skills which are all transferable skills for an editorial assistant.
For more careers advice from people across the publishing industry on what – and what not – to put on an entry level publishing CV, view this video:
Take time to write your cover letter. Ask yourself why you want this position at this particular company. What is it you love about the role? Why do you think you’ll be the perfect candidate?
Research the company and, where relevant, the imprint*, and tailor you application. Look at types of books and/or journals they publish, what recent successes have impressed you, and who are their competitors. Reading the Bookseller (a magazine specifically about the bookselling and publishing trades) and following publishers on Twitter are great ways to keep up with industry news!
Remember that your cover letter is not just an embellished CV – it is an opportunity to show you have your own ideas, are aware of industry trends, and (most importantly) can do the job. Work through the list of required skills provided in the job description and give examples of relevant experience. When giving examples, be specific and show results, for example “In my time running my football club’s Twitter account at university, I introduced weekly sports quizzes that doubled our followers from 50 to 100 in one month”.
Be honest if you don’t have any experience of a required skill and present it as an exciting opportunity to develop.
Research is key! Find out everything you can about the company, the books or journals they publish, the people that work there, and, if you can, the people who will be interviewing you.
Be prepared to answer these questions in an interview:
It’s also a good idea to prepare examples of your creativity, problem-solving abilities and organisational skills. Using the job description, consider if there are any other key skills you may be asked to give examples of in the interview.
Always come to an interview with a list of questions and remember that you are also interviewing them! This is your opportunity to find out if the company is right for you – what is the company culture like? Are there opportunities for training and progression? Who are the rest of the team?
Build rapport with the interviewers by asking about their careers, what they like about working there, and what they hope the successful candidate will get out of the role. Finally, don’t forget to ask about the timeline and next steps for their final decision. This is especially important if you have multiple interviews in the same week as you may be offered another position while waiting to hear back from them.
*An imprint is a publishing term for subdivision of a publishing company. A publisher may have multiple imprints under the same division. In a very large company with several divisions, there can be hundreds of imprints, each with their own distinct list of books. To figure out where the team that you are applying to join fits within the overall structure of the business, visit the About page of the parent company. For example, if you are applying for a position at Penguin Random House, you can find a description of their divisions and imprints here.