Jonathan Athanasiou is Director of People at HarperCollins Publishers. Here he shares his top five tips for job seekers.
1) Get some work experience
Getting experience really is the ace for most publishers. It shows that you’re serious and determined, but also that people saw potential in you and were willing to take you on. Most publishing houses offer paid work experience or internships – we certainly do at HarperCollins. And it doesn’t always have to be in a publishing house; if you can show experience of working within media or digital content business’ you’ll look valuable to publFeedishers - we’re always changing and are increasingly converging with different media platforms. But that said, don’t sell yourself short. If you’ve worked in something like retail throughout your studies, it shows that you’re able to prioritise your time effectively and that you have a good work ethic – these skills are very relevant and are transferable.
2) Start looking for jobs early
Looking for your dream job is a full-time job. If working in publishing is your career goal, you should be thinking about it at least two years before your graduation or when you’re ready to apply. Look for jobs before you’re ready to apply for them and get a sense of what publishers are looking for. Make your own plan of how to build up experience and develop your CV. Network and start to use your environment to build up experience and transferable skills.
Networking is so important in developing a career in publishing, and it can always be that a single contact is that which lands you your next job. Twitter and LinkedIn are important tools, but it’s also essential to actually meet people in person; a five-minute conversation with someone will always be more memorable than a follow on Twitter. Make sure you’re looking out for events in the industry, some of which are free to get into. Those relationships that you build will always further your prospects for getting a job.
4) Interview prep
If you get an interview, the worst thing you can do is turn up unprepared. Make sure you know the ins and outs of the company – can you name their CEO and their major publications? But more than that, show that you can demonstrate you know more than your CV and covering letter. Show that you know more than I do. If someone tells me something I didn’t already know about the industry – that’s a sure-fire way to getting hired. Know the brand and make sure you can demonstrate that invaluable knowledge that shows you’re worth hiring.
Getting feedback is essential. It doesn’t matter how high up the career ladder you are, because everyone should always be looking to learn. It’ll show your employer that you take your performance seriously, but also that you are engaged and self-aware, with a degree of humility. It’s also crucial to get feedback after a job interview, whether you’ve been hired or not. You can’t fix your developments before you’ve acknowledged them. That kind of attitude will impress people and you never know, it may just lead them to hire you.
© 2015 Jonathan Athanasiou