A perfect CV for a publishing job should…

… not be perfect. Because nobody’s is. And nobody’s ever will be.
(If you don’t get this, go and watch That Awkward Moment on Netflix right now; it’s set in the publishing industry and Zac Efron stars)

I have been following threads all over Twitter on the topic of CVs for publishing jobs, and decided to collate my findings into an easy-to-use blog post! In collaboration with Carl aka That Publishing Blog, we have come up with some top tips for CV layout and how to communicate your skills and experience concisely. I will also be sharing my advice on what to do when there isn’t all that much on there!

Without further adieu, my top tips for a stellar publishing CV include:

  • It should be no more than 2 pages, and no less than a page;
  • Your experience should not include anything from more than 3/4 years ago. Judge this one for yourself by relevance. If you’ve worked in an one role for 3 years, you can include the role before this. However, if it’s not relevant, just put a line about it;
  • Keep your skills and experience RELEVANT. Publishing professionals want to hear that you have skills using mailing systems, if you’ve completed an editing course or worked for your university press. What they don’t care about is your culinary mastery when you worked as a kitchen hand before university;
  • Make it look nice. Carl’s points follow up on the layout and aesthetic, but I will say that if you zoom out on your computer, and can only see boring, black text, the recruiter/hiring manager will probably be just as bored looking at it;
  • Have your skills listed nicely, not just in bullet-point format. Google ‘CV skills bank’ after reading this post and you’ll see what I mean. There are various layouts you can use, but use one! This got recommended to me by a recruiter from Springer Nature and now I work there.

Carl’s Top Tips

  • Keep it to two pages, and remember some versions of Word make files look different (you could make your file a PDF to standardise it);
  • As mentioned in my tweet, I do believe a single entry should not span two pages; if that happens in yours, look at the ordering or spacing to remedy it;
  • I believe huge chunks of text are off-putting on a CV ( said use concise sentences and I agree);
  • Don’t be afraid of white space;
  • Look to keep your date conventions consistent: e.g. if you use Sept 2017-Mar 2018 for one entry, don’t switch to July 2016-August 2016 for another (it’s a small detail but proves you have an eye for detail);
  • Ditto for punctuation.
  • Name your CV file! [Your name CV]

These are some great points from Carl which everybody should follow. There are two very important things to remember when applying for a job in publishing:

  1. Publishing professionals are always reading;
  2. Publishing professionals are always busy

You need to remember that we are always reading because when we are reading job applications, which can happen at all levels, we want something that is easily digestible. We want to skim read the two pages, see your main skills, most relevant experience and education if it’s recent. If I have to search to find what I am looking for in a candidate, then they are not selling themselves well enough to make it an easy, quick read.

Also, we are always reading unfinished, proof copies of books. This means that, not only do we have a keen eye for spotting typos, but we are tired of spotting them. Please spell check your CV and cover letter, make sure that you are consistent with your use of commas and have addressed it to us.

Finally, if you are struggling to fill your CV, leave it at a page/a page and a half. You will always gain more experience that you will want to add. Please do not write every. single. task. you did during your Penguin Random House work experience; simply summarise and pick two to three key things which you did well during your time there.

I hope that you find this useful. I have other similar posts listed below, and please check out Carl’s blog; That Publishing Blog! Also read through the Twitter thread that inspired this blog post to learn more!

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