One would think that I could figure this out if I'd decided on this field, huh?
April 27, 2012 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Can MeFi help me tweak my résumé for a career change into publishing and editing?

After a lot of soul searching, thinking, and research, I've decided that the career I am best suited for is that of an editor at a publishing house of some form or another. My work experience, while it has involved a small degree of business writing, is not in this field. I'm curious about how I should tweak, bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate my rèsumè to get my foot in the door.

Even though I lack professional experience, I am a blogger, and write for an online publication reviewing music. I also have taken a course in Tehnical Writing, and have a writing sample from the course.

This is my rèsumè as it stands now. (Yes, my contact info is in there. I've nothing to hide.) I'll be relocating to NYC in August, if not sooner if a job comes my way.

Any suggestions are welcome. I know publishing is a field in, for lack of a better term, transition, but I want to work with words. Hopefully you folks can help make this happen. Thank you!
posted by SansPoint to Work & Money (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
First tip for an editor: watch the accents in résumé. You did it right the first time, but did it differently the second and third time.
And depending on house style where you end up working in New York, the accents might not be necessary at all.
posted by emelenjr at 8:04 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry. Wrote this up on my iPhone. I'm gonna blame autocorrect.
posted by SansPoint at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2012

Best answer: First question: Why doesn't your résumé include your experience blogging and writing for an online publication? You don't need to have gotten paid for something like that to include it on your résumé, especially since your other experience doesn't as obviously translate to the day-to-day work of writing and editing. As an editor who has done some hiring, I scan down your résumé, see the positions listed as a typist, in sales, and as an account exec, and I immediately think, "Does not have the necessary experience." If I'm reading your question right, your experience as a blogger and a music reviewer would be for two separate online entities, right? If so, list them as such, as your top two jobs (as long as they're still things you're doing currently), and put the other jobs below that, with two or three bullet points max for the non-writing/editing gigs that emphasize those components of the job.
posted by limeonaire at 8:31 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: They would count. My blog is a personal blog, but it's all long-form essay work, not just little paragraphs, blurbs, and links.

I'll add those, but I think they should get a separate heading... Am I right?
posted by SansPoint at 8:36 AM on April 27, 2012

Best answer: Oh, I am so sorry. Entry-level editorial jobs in trade publishing are incredibly competitive, despite the fact that they typically don't pay a living wage. Without some more publishing-specific items on there, this resume would be unlikely to garner a second glance. Internships (i.e. working for free) or attendance at one of the summer publishing institutes (NYU, Denver, Radcliffe) is a time-honored way to buy yourself a foot in the door. I've heard that a publishing MA is becoming more common at the entry level, although personally, I can't say it seems worth the money. If you're the entrepreneurial type you could do a DIY ebook publishing project to get something out there. (And if you're not the entrepreneurial type, it's possible acquisitions isn't for you.)

Bookselling or reviewing can also be a plus. Many publishing folks are a little scared of the Internet, so they tend to be overly impressed by stuff like "uses Twitter", "can operate a CMS".

With your experience, you might consider aiming for sales support and marketing jobs. They're typically not quite as competitive and lateral mobility is not unheard of, especially from that direction.

If I were in your shoes, though, I would really try to get some book trade experience in Philly before jumping into the big pond.
posted by libraryhead at 9:38 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, limeonaire hits the nail on the head.

I think you can put the music reviewing gig under your basic "Experience" header; as he/she said above, it doesn't have to be a paid job to count as a job. (You could also tweak the section title to "Employment & Relevant Experience" or something similar if you'd feel that was more transparent, although I don't think you'd need to).

Although the blog is a personal one, does it have a wide audience? Is it income-generating in any way? If the answer to those questions is Yes, then you can also put that in Experience, along with relevant stats/bullets. If it's a personal blog in the sense that you write it mostly for yourself and your friends and family, I would probably leave that out of Experience and add it into "Relevant Skills & Interests," which is what I've just renamed your "Technical Skills" section.

Honestly, in my experience there aren't a ton of concrete prerequisites* for getting an editorial assistant job (which is what I assume you'll be going for). As an ed asst, you'll be doing lots of copying, mailing, phone handling, your basic office tasks, etc., although you'll also be reading submissions & evaluating them (you can draw a correlation between your music reviewing & your evaluation skills in your cover letters). Basically you just need to be smart, hardworking, and really, really love books. Since there are a lot of people who fit that profile, I think one of the most important things you can do on your resume is show demonstrated interest in books/writing/publishing/editing.

That being the case, is there anything else you can do or have done that highlights your interest? Did you help edit other student's papers in college, in a formal setting or an informal one? Did your BA in English have a particular focus? (Mine had a concentration in "Literature, Journalism and Print Culture," which, yes, is perhaps douchey in a kind of academic way, but also shows that I was interested in print culture and not just Classic Lit). Did you take any media studies courses? Part of being an editor is having a sense of the business of books, so understanding how the business of media works can be a plus. (Or, again, just something to mention in your cover letters.)

I'm not sure what your plans are between now and August, but you could also consider trying to get a publishing or publishing-adjacent internship somewhere if you're able to quit your current jobs. Does Temple have an alumni magazine that would do a summer hire? Or you could check out the academic publishing houses & journal publishers in Philly (I know you probably don't want to do academic publishing, but this is for demonstrated interest.) Can you volunteer at a writing center as an editor? A lot of colleges have programs like that to help students get free editorial help on their papers.

I also want to note that if you're not going to be in NYC until August, it is super unlikely that you'll get interviews or a job offer before then. Very few hiring managers will consider you for a position if you're not already local (when I was in your position an editor quite bluntly told me to lie and find a NY address to put on my resume, advice which I appreciated later). This is in part because ed jobs mostly come up when there's an opening to fill (someone quit or got promoted out of an asst slot, etc.), so they'll want you to start right away.

I mention this not to be discouraging, but so you won't get discouraged if you start sending out your resume now and don't get bites, and ALSO to point out that you still have lots of time to add to your resume if you want to do so.

Hope this helps! And sorry for any incoherence; I'm still a little fuzzy this morning.

(*Which doesn't mean they are easy to get. It's a small industry and there are a lot of people who want to be in it.)
posted by alleycat01 at 9:42 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Actually, just follow libraryhead's advice. Should have previewed.

His/her point about social media/internet skills is good, as is the point about getting into sales or marketing. I know quite a few entry-level sales/marketing folks who originally wanted to do ed.
posted by alleycat01 at 9:50 AM on April 27, 2012

Response by poster: Phew, a lot to reply to here. I'll try to hit the big points:

My personal blog is not a wide audience thing. I'll make sure that goes elsewhere. Academic publishing is A-OK by me, and I'd probably prefer that.

Internships are not really a thing I can do. I have both full and part-time jobs in Philadelphia, and I'm long out of school. I've also got 40k in student loan debt. Going back to school is not really something I can afford.

I'll keep an eye on sales support and marketing gigs.

Did I miss anything?
posted by SansPoint at 10:46 AM on April 27, 2012

So ... I just want you to know straight-up that starting editorial salaries are like $30-35k, and there's no a super huge awesome upward salary curve compensating for that later either. And these are at the Big 6 publishers (this is for books but it's probably going to be similar in other pub fields). It's not that it's not possible to live in NYC on that salary -- I also had $45k in loans when I started in editorial and made slightly under $30k -- but it's important to know the reality of the situation.

However, back to the matter at hand! The fact that you're not stuck on high-profile trade publishing is a plus and make this a more realistic goal; it throws open more options, for sure. (Esp if you aren't hooked on books and would work on journals.)

Are you married to the August NYC move? Because if not I would give some thought to libraryhead's advice about getting a foot into the door in Philly, first. You could replace either your FT or your PT job with another one that pays. If you're open to starting with writing/editing work that isn't for a publisher, you could also look for in-house communications jobs (all companies need somebody to write and edit those company prospectives and brochures).

Springer is looking for an editorial assistant right now, actually.
posted by alleycat01 at 11:22 AM on April 27, 2012

Response by poster: There's multiple reasons I'm moving to NYC, not just job hunting, so August is a hard deadline for me to get the hell out of here. Also, I'm making about about $35 between the two jobs I have now, so that's a lateral move!
posted by SansPoint at 11:25 AM on April 27, 2012

Response by poster: ($35k.)
posted by SansPoint at 11:26 AM on April 27, 2012

Gotcha! I won't go into the whole "$35k doesn't go as far in NY as it does in other places" (including Philly; I've lived there also) but there are tons of threads on moving into the city, the associated costs of living here, and how quickly you'll be able to find work that you can look up if you want that perspective. As long as your eyes are open!

If NYC is set, then honestly I think the main thing everybody above has said is that you've got to get some publishing-oriented items into your resume, no matter what kind of publishing you're trying to get into. It will be tough to get out of the slush resume pile until you have some items that jump out to an HR manager.

Good luck! Welcome (in advance) to the NY MeFite club.
posted by alleycat01 at 11:55 AM on April 27, 2012

Response by poster: I know NYC is pricier. I'm going to be sharing the expense, though. (Biggest reason I'm moving up there is my girlfriend. Long story.)

I'll post an updated résumé when I get home. (See? Got the accents right that time!)
posted by SansPoint at 11:58 AM on April 27, 2012

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