Moving about in Publishing
Transferring your skills to another industry or sector can be tricky but think about networking to make contacts and hear about opportunities:
Organisations like WIP, Byte The Book, Book Machine, OPuS, SYP, The Galley Club all offer regular networking opportunities where you’ll be able to chat to others currently working in publishing in a friendly informal setting. The more people you meet related to the industry the more chance you have of being remembered and recommended.
Attend seminars, workshops and social events where publishing people are likely to be – Oxford and London in particular have a host of literary events, and you never know who you will run into! Keep up to date with industry news – read the Bookseller, BookBrunch etc and follow the media, visit bookshops.
We’re often asked how to make the move from professional/academic/educational publishing into trade. For many, trade publishing is still their ultimate goal, even though they have secured their first couple of jobs in other publishing sectors. This is always a difficult one for us, or any recruitment agency, as companies come to us to get the person with the most relevant experience for their vacancy – it is our job to submit the best candidates.
Also, it is incredibly competitive to get into trade publishing. At entry level the competition is very strong – most applicants having done a publishing BA or MA degree and supporting that with internships at various trade publishing houses. So, for every job in trade publishing further up the career ladder there are plenty of Editorial Assistants and Assistant Editors, Production or Marketing Assistants already working in trade publishing ready to take them on. It doesn’t get easier to get into the more experience you have!
However, nothing is impossible and this is the advice that we usually give to our candidates.
Try and do it sooner rather than later, within a year/18 months – otherwise you will become pigeon holed and will start getting used to the salary you are on.
There are a few questions you need to consider when you are applying for opportunities in a different publishing sector, think about:
Are you applying for jobs at the same level as you are now?
Are you looking for a step up?
Are you open to taking a drop in salary to make this move?
Even jobs at the same level as you are now on may well pay less money.
Professional publishing, for example, is always better paid than some other market sectors – particularly trade. Unfortunately when making a jump across to another sector of publishing there is always the consideration of taking a drop in salary if you can’t offer a track record in that sector.
Think about how best to highlight your transferable skills. With regard to marketing, you may only have marketed to academics, but consider the principles of the marketing you undertook, the aims and objectives of that marketing with regards to who you wanted to reach, and how the results of campaigns were used or helped generate revenue. Some of what you have done may have some resonance with the person reading your CV, despite not being in the same market. The key thing is to make the person reading your CV look at your skills and your knowledge and commercial understanding of your current role and not be distracted by the content you have worked on.
Moving job roles
If you’re looking to move from Marketing for example into Editorial, try to gain as much relevant experience in your current role that’s related to the new ideal role i.e. do as much copywriting as you can, liaise with editorial teams and research the products that they are working on.
Look at your CV. Make sure that anywhere there is a similarity between the skills used in your current job and the required skills of the job advertised, it is spelled out to the reader.
Within any job type, whether you are in editorial, production or marketing for example, try focussing on the processes of your job rather than the titles that you work on.
As a finishing touch add a profile paragraph at the top pointing out all these elements so your transferrable skills are the first thing that strikes the recruiting manager.
It is the norm today that most move on every 2 -3 years, especially early on in your career – jobs are no longer for life. You need to identify what skills you don’t yet have that are required for the next step up. Some companies offer structured training programmes but some don’t so you’ll need to identify training options for yourself.
Speak to your manager or HR department about identifying the skills shortages and gaining the experience required or undertaking internal or external training that will give you the skills required.
Reading job ads and job descriptions is another way of seeing what skills are needed for that next role as well as speaking to us.
It’s sometimes a case of being in the right place at the right time so do keep an eye out on internal adverts and sign up for job alerts so you don’t miss things.
Read Part 1 here.