The Publishing Post
CV and Cover Letter Writing Tips
With more publishing roles being made available over these past few weeks, we will be providing you with advice and tips to make your CV and Cover Letters stand out during this extra competitive time!
CV Advice and Tips
Customise your CV: With more companies relying on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to identify the presence of keywords from the supplied job description, we suggest that you tailor your CV to the specific role that you are applying for. Some universities offer their students the chance to run their CV through an ATS, so it is worth utilising these resources before graduation!
Extracurricular activities: One pressing issue that affects those of us from a lower-economic background applying for competitive roles within the publishing industry lies in the amount of voluntary and extracurricular activities that are expected for entry-level roles. From bookstagrams to booktube channels, show your love of books through social media platforms.
Standing out: Make your application stand out by creating your college campus’s Her Campus club which has yet to gain momentum in the United Kingdom, or hosting your universities radio show to gain experiences that can be easily transferable to the audiobook industry that has recently seen a significant incline in subscriptions.
Work Experience/Transferable Skills: Focus on the skills you’ve gained from whatever work experience or employment you have had in order to appear as employable as possible. If you have attended university, use module descriptors to pinpoint the key skills you have obtained and showcase modules you have excelled in.
It is advised that the cover letter should have four sections and be one side of A4 – make it as concise as possible.
Who to address it to: It is good to research beforehand to see who to send it to, whether it is a specific director, member of the team, or someone in HR.
What are you applying for: If it is through an agency, address it as such: ‘I am writing to apply for the role of [insert role title here] as advertised on [insert name of advertising agency here]’.
Introduce yourself: Here you can write any personal qualities they are looking for and want in the job description. For example, ‘I am enthusiastic and reliable’ etc.
Why this company/imprint/department: Hiring managers want to see whether you are genuinely interested in the company and if you are knowledgeable about the industry; research is key.
Relevant experience: Highlight two or three skills they are looking for and provide succinct examples of experiences demonstrating these. Think about how these skills and experiences allow you to carry out the role successfully.
Example From a Publishing Professional
At [publishers name], I maintained production, print orders and submissions spreadsheets, amongst many others. I used my attention to detail to proofread books, checking down to the last misplaced full stop. I carried out countless administrative duties and successfully liaised with authors, printers, designers, typesetters, and customers. At [publishers name], I oversaw the whole publishing process from manuscript to finished book, managing freelancers and keeping track of around twenty projects at a time. Adept at working in a high-pressure environment, I’m excellent at prioritising.
Summarise what you can add to the role, what you are excited about etc.
Proofread it: Especially important for editorial roles; you don’t want your application to be taken out for a simple overlooked typo. Always double check!
Application questions can replace traditional cover letters. Below is an example of a strong answer to an application question:
What key skills and competencies do you have to demonstrate your suitability for the role?
Organised, diligent and creative, in my current role, I run small and large events to perfect time and budget, remaining positive and unflappable throughout. I have excellent interpersonal skills and pitching skills, which means I forge and nurture contacts both within and outside the industry. With a background in editorial, I write well, and I am flexible so that I relish working with a range of people: from authors to agents, suppliers and journalists, schools and partners, and in-house marketing teams to freelance publishing professionals. I also have stellar computer skills, proficient in using PCs and Macs, picture editing software, CRM softwares and Microsoft programmes.
Clearly presents their key skills with evidence from their experiences.
Provides short and concise answers that responds to the question in a strong way
If you are looking for an extra pair of eyes to proofread your CV and Cover Letter, Creative Access holds free online clinics, while Bookcareers.com offers individual advice (see Suzanne Collier on LinkedIn/Twitter) and a podcast that breaks down popular questions. Stay tuned for Issue 5 where we will be discussing free training courses to help you upskill!