Job Hunting How-Tos: Publishing Pointers from the Experts

Did you know that every position that you apply for in a company can be seen when a Human Resources Director reviews your application? This is just one of the many interesting topics that came up recently in a major panel discussion entitled “How to Land the Publishing Job of Your Dreams,” co-hosted by the NYUSPS Publishing Students Association and the NYUSPS Center for Publishing. After all, as graduation nears, many publishing students are starting to search for jobs. This is usually a time of high anxiety that involves scouring career websites, reaching out to potentially advantageous contacts, and refreshing your email every ten seconds.

The panel, designed to quell anxiety, included two 2016 alumni: Melanie Iglesias Perez, editorial assistant at Atria Publishing Group, a division of Simon & Schuster; and Ashley Sepanski, web producer for O, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah.com. They were joined by two leading human resources executives: Carolyn Zimatore, Director of Talent Management at HarperCollins; and Amy Helmus, Associate Director within the HR Department of Hearst Magazines. Both are deeply involved with recruiting across all divisions of their companies.

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Panelists (left to right): Ashley Sepanski, web producer for O, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah.com; Melanie Iglesias Perez, editorial assistant at Atria Publishing Group; Amy Helmus, Associate Director within the HR Department of Hearst Magazines; and Carolyn Zimatore, Director of Talent Management at HarperCollins

FIRST STEPS

After a warm introduction by program director Andrea Chambers, Lainey Mays, the President of the Publishing Students Association, opened the discussion with a fundamental job search question: where to start? Some selected advice:

  • Seek out aggregators like Indeed.com and Bookjobs.com.
  • Talk to classmates and network! Melanie landed her first internship by contacting a friend who knew a publicist at the Gallery imprint of Simon & Schuster. This crucial step got her foot in the door and allowed her to eventually work her way to a full-time position.
  • Be persistent. “I applied like crazy,” Ashley said, speaking about her application process in the world of magazine publishing. “Not hearing back isn’t fun, but wait until you finally find that opportunity.”
  • Showcase your talents. “Have a blog when applying for editorial positions in magazines,” recommended Ashley. “This is an opportune time to show off something you are proud of!”
  • Get yourself “Job Search Ready!” Carolyn offered these three important tips: “Google yourself to see what comes up, set up your voice mail, and make sure that your email address is appropriate.”
  • Don’t be a serial job applicant. “While it’s helpful to apply to multiple positions,” said Amy, “concentrate on the type of position you’re going after such as marketing or editorial.” (And remember: recruiters can see all the jobs you have applied for when your name comes up.)
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M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students at the “How to Land the Publishing Job of Your Dreams” panel discussion

COVER LETTERS & RÉSUMÉS

After covering the initial steps of the job hunt, Lainey proceeded with a question that often leaves students scratching their heads: how much does a cover letter matter?

  • A lot, said Carolyn, who feels so strongly about effective cover letters that she referenced her recent blog post entitled An Ode to the Cover Letter. Cover Letters are great because they permit you to show your specific interest in the position and address any gaps in your résumé.
  • Not so much, said Amy, who does not always read cover letters—usually leaving this to the hiring manager. But she did say that the cover letter is a great way to personalize your application and show why you are different.
  • And keep in mind: if your work experience is limited, consider putting your education at the top of your résumé; avoid crazy fonts; and make sure the top half of your résumé contains key information as many recruiters don’t scroll down. Ashley added that it is crucial to know the brand you are applying for when writing a cover letter.

INTERVIEWS

Here’s some top tips from our panel on the all-important interview:

  • Come a few minutes early—but not a half hour early.
  • Be prepared and always have something to write on in case you are given a task to complete and return.
  • If you are nervous, it’s okay to let your interviewer know! This way, the recruiter doesn’t leave thinking something was off. It is better to address it!
  • Don’t forget to list those “special skills.” Melanie put her love of trivia on her résumé and was asked about it in an interview. It helped establish a good rapport, she noted.
  • It’s always good to have questions about the company or position.
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Students posing with panelists after the “How to Land the Publishing Job of Your Dreams” panel

So, what’s most important piece of advice when looking for a job? The answers from the panelists were informative and encouraging!

  • Amy: “Just because you interview with one person and give an answer that they don’t like, that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t love it (or you).”
  • Carolyn: “Research as much as possible, and send thank you notes!
  • Melanie: “Know what you want [in terms of a position]. the reasons why, and how to express it to the person you’re interviewing with.”
  • Ashley: “Put in the work, put your best foot forward, but don’t freak out [if the interview does not go as you wished.] Everyone makes mistakes.”

Happy job hunting!

by Lainey Mays and Alexandra Hightower

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NYUSPS Publishing Student Association Treasurer Alexandra Hightower (left), President Lainey Mays (center), and Social Media Manager Kaibin Lei (right) at the “How to Land the Publishing Job of Your Dreams” panel
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