Want to Work in Publishing? Here’s How to Make Your CV Stand Out

Ella Patenall

Updated January 16, 2020 Updated January 16

By Anna Louise Whitehouse

Publishing jobs are highly sought-after by today’s graduates, making this an extremely competitive career path, particularly if you want to work in an editorial team. To stand out against the competition, you need to make sure your CV presents your skills and qualifications clearly, eloquently and accurately.

Read on to discover our top three tips for creating the perfect CV in order to secure those top publishing jobs.

Pristine presentation really matters in this industry

Presenting your CV consistently and clearly is a great way to impress publishing companies, so bold type, indents, underscores and fonts should be used consistently across the whole document. Don’t overdo the stylization but ensure the most important information (i.e. your name) stands out.

When it comes to the length of your CV, we suggest sticking to two pages, so if you’re struggling to fit everything in, try reducing the size of the font you’re using. You could also tweak the size of your subheadings and adjust your margins.

Demonstrate your ability to be concise

Working in publishing means regularly needing to edit information and portray it as clearly and concisely as possible. Prove you can do all of this already in your CV, by making the information you provide to-the-point and engaging.

Try to focus on skills that are specifically referred to in the job description. For example, production editors need project management skills, an aptitude for accuracy and the ability to cope with tight deadlines. Other publishing jobs may require excellent written English, desktop publishing skills and the ability to proofread.

When you’re writing about a particular skill, give brief examples of when you have used it successfully. If you’ve recently graduated and you don’t have much of a work history, focus on any other relevant work experience. Working in a bookshop, volunteering in a library or helping with a student publication are all excellent examples.

Find new ways to sell yourself

A good publishing CV is concise, readable and logically written. However, there is definitely room for compelling language.

Laura Slingo, who writes for The Independent Publishers Guild, recommends using powerful vocabulary to really sell yourself: “Instead of ‘responsible for’, try ‘controlled’, ‘operated’, ‘orchestrated’, ‘oversaw’ or ‘championed’. Instead of ‘helped’, try ‘delivered’, ‘generated’, ‘yielded’ or ‘improved’. Instead of ‘managed’, try ‘mentored’, ‘supervised’, ‘taught’, ‘mediated’ or ‘moderated’.”

It’s also worth checking that you don’t keep repeating the same words or descriptive phrases, as this is surprisingly easy to do. Employers will want to see you have a wide vocabulary and a flair for writing.

It’s absolutely critical you avoid any mistakes

Editorial jobs are the most sought-after roles within publishing, so you won’t get anywhere without an excellent eye for detail, an ability to spot mistakes and an extremely high standard of written English. This applies doubly for your own CV.

You’ll also need to understand sentence construction, phrasing, tenses and grammar in general, so if you have any weak areas, now’s the time to iron them out. David Crystal’s book Rediscover Grammar is an excellent place to start, but if you’d prefer to take a formal qualification, check out the Publishing Training Centre’s comprehensive grammar course.

Before you send your CV off to an employer, always ask one or two eagle-eyed friends or family members to proofread it, as it’s hard to be totally objective about your own writing. They may also notice if there are any glaring errors in there you’ve somehow been able to spot.

Once you’ve polished and perfected your CV, you’re ready to start applying for publishing jobs. However, according to the publishing recruitment team at Atwood Tate,  “your CV should be a work in progress”. Keeping it updated as you gain experience in the industry will save you time when it comes to applying for new jobs or promotion.

Anna Louise Whitehouse writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse our graduate jobs, visit our website.

This article was originally published in April 2018 . It was last updated in January 2020

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