Publishing is a tight-knit community, and for those seeking their first positions in the industry, it can be tough to break in. Luckily, last week, students in NYU’s M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion moderated by the program’s director, Andrea Chambers, and featuring two senior human resources executives in the publishing industry. Sara Patterson, Head of Talent Management for Condé Nast, and Stacy Berliner, Director of Human Resources at Random House, shared their insights, key networking tips, and job-hunting techniques crucial for snagging that publishing dream job.
The Job Hunt: Networking, Social Media and More
While most companies require that you apply through their career sites, there are other effective ways to attract the attention of hiring managers. “Networking is huge at Condé Nast,” said Patterson. Aside from applying online, she highly recommended using any specific contacts you may have within a company. That means searching through past emails and dusting off those old business cards. Knowing someone in the industry puts you at an advantage and allows you to tap into a hidden job market that may not otherwise be accessible. Simply put, said Patterson: “People want to hire someone they know.”
Berliner discussed the concept of hiring from a social media perspective, stating that LinkedIn is a “big recruiting source.” She stressed the importance of keeping profiles complete and as up-to-date as possible, and noted that she uses LinkedIn all the time to fill specific positions. Also, our experts commented that the recommendations segment of LinkedIn holds significant weight with employers; having credible recommendations and even a brief synopsis of your current activities will strengthen your online profile.
Patterson made a compelling statement in relation to social media: “The minute you join the brand, you represent the brand. We’re not checking Facebook, but we will Google you to see what you are doing in the world.”
Cover Letter: Selling YOU
“You should always have a cover letter. It’s definitely a mark in my book if you don’t,” said Berliner. As for content, Patterson explained: “It should be specific to the brand and authentic to the position you’re hiring for.” In terms of length, Berliner noted: “We don’t want the ‘Great American Novel’.” One page of personalized, engaging content that entices employers to look deeper should be your goal.
Résumé: The Good, the Bad and the “You’re Out”
Think accomplishments, not just a stream of responsibilities, stressed Patterson: “People forget to write down accomplishments. To a prospective employer, knowing the results of what you have done means much more than a list of duties from your job description.”
In turn, Berliner offered some insights on résumé appearance: one page (unless you have been in the industry ten or more years); well-formatted, with the education at the top if you are still in school or a recent graduate; and your relevant experience in chronological order. Neither expert felt that including a career objective was necessary, but both agreed on a one-strike rule: a typo means you are out! “If you make a mistake on something this important, how can I know you won’t make mistakes on the job?” asked Berliner.
Interviews: Firm Handshakes and Follow-Up
Once you receive an interview, congratulations! You have reached the most crucial portion of the job hunt. Approach the interview dressed to impress, fueled with confidence, and armed with a firm handshake, because, as Berliner said, “Within moments, I know if I’m going to like you or not.” A hiring manager is looking to have a conversation, so speak openly and be an active listener. Also, don’t expect canned questions, as interviewers like to pick up on things they see in your résumé. At the end of the interview, be sure to grab a business card and send a follow-up email because, according to Berliner, “If you don’t follow up, you’ll be out of the running.”
The program then shifted to mock interviews conducted by the experts. Graduate students Astrid Dalmady and Natalia Knochowski sat down with Berliner and Patterson, respectively, to answer some targeted questions as the rest of the students looked on. The interviewers dissected their answers and pointed out where they could have been strengthened—providing a good learning experience for all. Overall, Berliner advised students to be well-prepared, explaining that good interviews should feel more like a conversation than an interrogation.
As the program concluded, it was apparent that looking for a job can be a job in itself. It takes time, effort, and dedication to make a good impression; though there may be no immediate results, keeping up a professional appearance is important before, during, and even after a job search. As experts in their fields, Berliner and Patterson offered invaluable advice beneficial for anyone looking to join the workforce.
by Krystal Johnson