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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Publishing Career Question #3: What kinds of jobs should I be looking for?

As my WNBA intern, Elaine Ruth Boe, prepares to begin her job hunt in publishing, I've been answering some of her questions about the industry and the job hunt process. Here is her third question in our mini-series:

What kinds of job titles should I look out for as a fresh-out-of-college graduate with no “real world" experience (aside from summer internships!)? Are there key words or phrases that indicate entry level positions?

Some publishers actually separate out entry-level positions on their career pages on their website, so those are easy. Basically, no matter what department you're looking for a job in—editorial, marketing, sales, production—you're going to be an assistant to start. And the first rung on the ladder is editorial (or sales or publicity) assistant. A minor detail but important is that an editorial assistant is a different position from, and a rung down from, an assistant editor. If you already have a little experience, you can apply for that second one. And you can also look at coordinator positions, although there are very few of those.

These positions might all say they want 1-2 years of experience, but keep in mind that is a "want." Don't worry about it—it's entry level so go for it. (Especially you women. Women are often scared off by a job listing they don't meet 100% but it's just a wish list and you should always go for it if you meet 70%.) One thing applicants often seem to misunderstand is that when you're applying for a job as an assistant, your resume and cover letter ought to emphasize the skills you'd be utilizing as an assistant—not any editorial experience. First of all, any editorial experience you claim to have, unless you actually were doing real work in an editorial department elsewhere, is discounted. That's not what you're being hired for. It's great to have, but it's not why you're here. You're here to answer phones. Open mail. Water plants. File. Run Excel reports. Put together mailings. Make appointments. If you have any clerical experience at all, lead with that. An assistant will make her boss's lunch reservations, send faxes, and do data entry. Will you also be talking with authors, reviewing copyedited manuscripts, and writing catalog copy? Yes, but that's a smaller part of the job than the assistanting part, so showing off those skills and experience will get you further in the hiring process.

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