Top 10 Things Publishing Recruiters Want You to Know

Spring break is now behind us, and as we stare down these final months of classes for the semester and look to the approaching summer, many of us are beginning to stress about finding that perfect summer paid or for-credit internship or scoring our dream job. The NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media Publishing Program’s recent career panel provided students with insights into the minds of recruiters and valuable advice on resumes, cover letters, interview etiquette, and more.

The panelists represented each of the areas of study the program covers: book, magazine, and digital publishing. We heard from Amy Helmus, Associate Director of Human Resources at Hearst Magazines; Natalie Loucas, Director of Human Resources at Penguin Random House; and John-Paul Sukkar, Human Resources Business Partner at Twitter. After an hour-long conversation and Q&A with the panelists, two brave students volunteered to participate in mock interviews with the recruiters, who offered feedback afterward. The session was a valuable experience for all who attended, but if you couldn’t make it, here are 10 takeaways to remember.

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(left to right) John-Paul Sukkar, Human Resources Business Partner at Twitter; Natalie Loucas, Director of Human Resources at Penguin Random House; and Amy Helmus, Associate Director of Human Resources at Hearst Magazines.

1. Having a wide skill set is great, but adaptability is key

Good news—it’s not about knowing everything. What’s more important is a willingness to learn. “In the world we live in, nothing is permanent; everything is always changing,” Sukkar explained. “We might use HTML today and migrate to something else tomorrow.”

“People who can adapt, who are forward-thinking, and who are able to move with the times are really valuable,” Loucas agreed.

That being said, the more skills you have, the better, said Helmus. “Whatever skills you can bring to the table, we’re going to utilize.”

2. There’s no Holy Grail source for recruiters

The panelists said they look everywhere for talent, and it varies by the role. Sukkar revealed that at Twitter, recruiters search through Reddit and technology forums to fill roles that require technical skills, while LinkedIn is used to find candidates for non-technical positions.

All agreed that referrals were incredibly valuable. “It makes our job a lot easier,” Helmus noted.

3. The more details you include on LinkedIn, the better

Never list a job on LinkedIn without putting a description of your responsibilities. LinkedIn is the best place to highlight your experience online, and that includes any special projects you’ve led.

“When in doubt, put it on there,” Sukkar encouraged students.

4. Your personal interests may be what catches the eye of a human resources professional

Recruiters sometimes look for qualities that are left out of the job description on purpose. So if an editorial position opens up at Food Network Magazine, for instance, be sure to mention food. Makes sense, but many candidates neglect this crucial detail. And you never know what will catch a recruiter’s attention.

“If you have this great book blog, or if your Instagram is novels and nail polish…I want to hear about that; that’s amazing,” said Loucas.

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Students ask panelists questions during the Q&A, including blogger Jenae Sitzes (fourth on left).

5. But don’t include any hobbies that aren’t relevant…at all

Your passion for bird-calling doesn’t belong in your resume or cover letter. And be careful about declaring yourself a “world traveler”—it might imply you’re not willing to commit to a company long-term.

“Sometimes when people mention wanting to live abroad, that’s a little up in the air, too,” said Helmus. “We obviously look for employees who want to stay for a long period of time.”

6. Your resume is what recruiters will scrutinize, so sell yourself

It’s the most important part of your application; after all, your experience is everything. So don’t bury your skills at the bottom—show where you have used them. The skills should be bullet-pointed under every job where applicable. “Don’t feel like you’re repeating yourself,” Helmus said.

7. Use cover letters to answer questions raised by your resume

For example, if you’re applying for a job in a city not where you’re currently living, explain that in your cover letter or risk confusing the recruiter.

And as crucial as your resume is, your cover letter might be what seals the deal. “I’ll look at the resume first, and if I still need to be sold, I’ll look at the cover letter,” said Loucas. The other panelists agreed.

8. See a job posting that looks perfect for you? Don’t wait.

It might be gone in a matter of days.

“If you can write a cover letter super quickly, then get it together,” said Helmus. “Otherwise, if you know it’s going to take a couple of days, it might be best to just get your resume in.”

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John-Paul Sukkar (left) conducts a mock interview with a student as the group observes.

9. Prepare for the interview—have a “bank of topics” ready

“Think about what kind of questions you might be asked and what your responses might be,” Loucas said. Know all the brands owned by the company to which you’re applying. Avoid absolutes (ex: “I’ve never done this” or “I always do that”). And don’t leave without asking questions. One to always ask: What are the most important qualities you’re looking for in this role?

“Prepare 10 [questions] and maybe ask two, based on how the conversation went,” Sukkar said.

10. As cheesy as it sounds, be yourself

“The worst thing is to put on a different persona in an interview, and then you get the job and you realize, ‘Actually, this isn’t right for me,’” Sukkar told students. Not only have you wasted your time, but you’re back to where you started: in the job market.

Most interviews won’t turn into a job, and that’s OK. Be confident in your experience, let your personality shine, and the right position will find you in no time.

by Jenae Sitzes

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