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Upskilling Tips for Changing Careers

By Sukhpreet Chana, Grace Edwards, Misha Manani and Lydia Marshall

The decision to change careers and work within the competitive world of publishing can be daunting, but don't let that deter you from trying to get your foot in the door. While you're looking to make the transition, you should use that time to network, gain more knowledge on the industry and develop your skill set and experience. By doing these things, you'll become more employable, which will also build your confidence. Below are some excellent tips that will benefit you and help you stand out from other candidates.

Key Transferable Skills

  • Attention to detail: Being detail-oriented is an essential skill as it is important within every stage of the publishing process to produce high-quality content that meets industry standards and reader expectations. Even the smallest oversight can detract from the overall quality of a publication. 

  • Time management: Working within the publishing industry often involves tight deadlines, so strong time management and organisation are necessary for prioritising tasks and handling projects simultaneously. By showing in a previous industry that you effectively managed your time and resources when faced with project deadlines, you can appeal to publishers. 

  • Teamwork and communication: These skills are the backbone of publishing. You typically work as part of a team, so the ability to collaborate effectively with colleagues and clients is essential. Clear channels of communication ensure everyone remains on the same page regarding schedules, milestones and responsibilities. 

  • Adaptability: The publishing sector is constantly changing and evolving, with new technologies and trends shaping the way books are created, distributed and consumed. To remain competitive within the sector, companies and employers must anticipate change and respond efficiently. If you highlight evidence from a previous career, it demonstrates that you are an adaptable applicant which is attractive to hiring managers. 


  • Engage with events: Attend fairs, festivals, webinars and socials where you can interact with publishing hopefuls and those who work in the industry. For example, the Society of Young Publishers often holds events. If you can attend, there is a Careers Clinic at the London Book Fair run by Bookcareers where you can talk to HR teams from different publishers. Otherwise, they have a free virtual event with one publisher where you can have an open discussion with representatives from a publisher about getting into the industry. Hachette UK also held a career webinar series to demystify publishing. 

  • Join Career Podcasts: A chance for you to listen to and learn from professionals about their experiences and tips to support your career changes. You can ask yourself through this transition if it’s achievable and what skills and experience you will need to take that leap. Bookcareers and the Society of Young Publishers have great podcasts to help you navigate this journey.

  • Visit Bookshops: When deciding to change career paths, this allows you to gain first-hand experience with the latest trends from the top bestsellers to how books are visually displayed from a consumer and commercial perspective. You can visit Waterstones, independent bookshops, The Works and WHSmith.

Top Tips 

  • Network: You can reach out to people who work in publishing on LinkedIn and Twitter. These are great platforms to seek advice for entering the industry, tips for job searches and applications, standing out in interviews and connecting with those who share your enthusiasm. 

  • Try to gain experience: Start applying for volunteering, work experience opportunities, internships or traineeships because they will help you get that foot in the door and are tailored to those who want to learn at an entry-level. These are often temporary and short-term, so they can help you determine if the change works for you. Check Creative Access, Jobs in Books and the IPG Jobs Board regularly. 

  • Join The Publishing Hopefuls Facebook Group: It’s wonderful to have a community of people on your job hunt when you are changing industries. We all need support and an outlet for communication during this time. Many people post questions and share their experiences. Sometimes, people are willing to share their successful applications, which is a bonus when starting.

  • Be open-minded: Editorial is often the first department we think about when it comes to the world of books, but there are many other great teams: Marketing, Publicity, Sales, Rights, Production, Design, Communication, Finance and Human Resources. You never know how much you might enjoy another role. Consider trade adjacent positions at bookshops, literary agencies, book media companies, libraries, magazines and newspapers.

Thank you for reading this issue! Join us again for Upskilling Tips for Publishing Schemes in issue 97.


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