SYP Panel Talk: “How to assert yourself in publishing”
On Tuesday night, I went to my first SYP event, which was a panel talk on “How to assert yourself in publishing”. On the panel were: Roly Allen (@roly_allen) a Publisher at Ilex, part of Hachette UK, Bryony Woods (@BryonyWoods) Literary Agent at Diamond Khan and Woods, Ailah Ahmed (@ailahahmed), Commissioning Editor at Little, Brown, part of Hachette UK, and Pinelopi Pourpoutidou, Head of Foreign & Digital Sales at Michael O’Mara Publishing.
Discussion ranged from topics such as knowing when it is time to speak up in meetings, what confidence is, and whether maternity-leave affects career progression, and what can be done to change this. Here are 7 of the top tips to take away from the evening.
1. Keep your cover letters short and specific to the job
Cover letters do not need be very long. Half a side of A4 will suffice. Make it short and sharp and to the point. Outline your key skills and how they make you suitable for the requirements of the role. Investigate the company, know what they do. Say why you want to work for them and why they should want you to work for them.
2. Sell yourself in your interests.
The interests section in your CV is your chance to sell yourself, and gives the company an idea of you as a real person. Be honest, but also be professional. Do you play sports, play in a band, part of an activity/ interest club, been travelling? Make sure you share!
3. Fake it till you make it
Few people can start in a role and have complete confidence right away. It is learnt over time as you acclimatise to the role. Being nervous as you start out is normal, but if you are not confident, you can just pretend you are. The panel suggested Amy Cuddy’s method of ‘Fake it Till You Make It”. Watch her TED Talk on it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are
The panel also suggested Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg as a resource particularly for women with tips and advice on how to build confidence and how to be a successful leader in the workplace.
4. Loudness isn’t confidence- knowing what you’re talking about is.
Don’t think that you will come across as confident just by talking louder and being brash and confrontational. Being quieter and more introverted doesn’t mean that you are less effective or less valuable. What is important is preparing your facts before you talk and share. An idea that you have investigated and can support with facts and realistic costings is much more useful than something unprepared, said loudly.
5. Form a support network, even if just an informal one.
One tip suggested, especially to benefit people from minorities with less representation in the industry, was to form a support network with people in the industry who have come from a similar background. Either in your company, or out wider out into the industry; find someone or a group of people who are at a similar stage to you, and people you feel you can confide in, and ask advice from, who you can meet up with once a month over a coffee.
6. Don’t be afraid of speaking up in meetings, but know when to stop.
If you have an idea that is relevant, share it. But if you are told it will not work, then know when to stop.
On Asking for More…
7. When to ask for a pay rise
The panel suggested that you should perhaps start thinking about asking for a pay rise after a year into a role. An employer should not think less of you for asking, and the worst that they can say is no. If they do reject your request, ask if you can review this decision in 3 to 6 months. They suggested that you should pick your time to ask also based on what the situation of both you and your company are. If the company is making cut backs, it might not be the correct time to ask. But if you have had a period of success (as opposed to just one success), then you should ask. Your request should make a case for your worth to the company, and why you deserve this rise.
This was a fascinating talk, and all the speakers were enthusiastic and entertaining. Thanks to the speakers and The SYP for hosting the event!