As promised, here is the second part of our two-part series on improving your chances of getting a job interview with us. The first part dealt with what not to do when applying for our jobs. This part talks about the things you should do to impress us and make us take your application seriously.
As a side benefit, doing these things will also help you be clear in your own mind about whether or not you truly want to work for us, before you even apply. Which helps us, too, because we want to employ people who want to be with us.
These are the things you need to do to make your job application a good one:
1. Do read our advertisements and website thoroughly
Our adverts tell you what sort of qualifications, skills and experience we are looking for. The rest of our site tells you a lot about us, so you will be able to see if we are the sort of people you want to work for and get an idea of the sort of publishing work you can expect to do with us.
If you give us the impression you don’t really know what we do, for example if you think that we work on fiction or poetry, or are involved with journalism, we are unlikely to consider you a good match for us.
2. Do ask questions if you need to – but check first that your question isn’t already answered on our website
If you have a specific question that isn’t already answered in the FAQs or elsewhere on our website, then feel free to ask us using our contact form. If it’s a good question, you will go up in our estimation and we will answer you and add it (and our answer) to the FAQs for good measure, so that all the other applicants can see the answer.
But if you ask a question that is already answered on our website, we may conclude that you’re not very good at finding information, or that you’re not prepared to do even a small amount of work to do so.
Once you have the information you need, you can decide whether or not to apply. Whether you’re applying or asking a question, be specific about what you’re doing: just sending us your CV with a vague request for more information isn’t a clear application, or even a clear query.
3. Do give us correct contact details
Check that everything you have put in the online form is correct. If you have a typo in your email address or phone number then we won’t be able to contact you and you might miss out on an invitation to interview. This has happened.
Also, please capitalise and format your address and postcode correctly. This information isn’t just hidden in a database away from human eyes: we see it along with the rest of your application and it reflects badly on you if you fail to follow conventional style for your address.
4. Do take advantage of the opportunity the cover letter gives you
Sure, you could just use your cover letter to say ‘I’m applying for this job and enclose my CV’, and end it there. But that’s a waste of the perfect opportunity to sell yourself to us, and we will think you don’t care whether you get the job or not. We’re people too and we want to be wanted.
We look at your cover letter first. If there are more than a few applications, and there always are, a well-written cover letter may make the difference between us considering your application and us not looking at your CV at all.
A poor cover letter may result in us not looking further. But before we even read what it says, we could still be put off if it’s too long or too dense. Make it look like something we want to read without falling asleep.
We know you’re applying for the job and have enclosed a CV. We have it right here. Now tell us new information about yourself and persuade us that you are the right person for this particular job. Use your cover letter to tell us things we might not be able to discover from your CV, tailored to our requirements and interests.
5. Do tell us what you can offer us
We know this is a great opportunity for you, that you will benefit from the experience, training and skills you will acquire, and that the job will help in attaining your career objectives. You don’t need to tell us any of that. We all like working here too.
Tell us why it is in our interest to hire you. What knowledge or skills can you bring us? What personal qualities will make you a valued member of our team? What will you do for us?
And it’s about what you can offer us in particular – this shouldn’t be just ‘I always excel in what I do’ but a demonstration of how well you would be able to help your prospective colleagues and actually do the work we do.
6. Do give us evidence for your claims about yourself
Show your dedication to the career path we offer in publishing by describing what you have done to teach yourself appropriate skills, obtain additional training, or gain experience.
Prove that you have the skills and attributes you say you have by telling us how you have put them to use in your work or personal life, and what you achieved with them.
7. Do tell us why you want to work for us in particular
It’s fine to try and get a job with us simply because you need to earn money. We understand. We all need to eat. But we want some reassurance that you will stick with us and make a career with us, not just get experience and training and then leave. Commitment is part of being a good employee too. It can take months for even someone with previous experience to learn everything they need to become truly productive. How can we know that you plan to stay with us in the long term?
And yes, this goes for the internships as well. We use our internship programme as one means of identifying potential long-term employees, so someone who is obviously thinking of making a commitment to academic publishing in general or us in particular will have an advantage over someone who clearly just wants a summer job.
8. Do use correct spelling and grammar in your cover letter and CV, and proofread them both before sending
Ensure that your punctuation is correctly chosen and placed, that your sentences are well structured, and that every word is spelt correctly. Remember, we are evaluating your cover letter and your CV as evidence of your communication skills.
Perhaps sad to say, but a single spelling mistake in your cover letter will rule you out: why not make none, and remain in the selection pool?
Yes, this goes for design and layout posts as well. We need people who are flexible enough to help out in other areas of the business, and typesetters who at the very least know when to overrule an incorrection.
9. Do make sure your CV is clearly laid out
If you are applying for an editing or editorial office post, we want to see a clear document structure, good presentation of tables or bullets if you have used them, and no typos (see above).
If you are applying for a design or layout post, we will also look for a clean design, strong grid alignment, and good typography. Plain but good is much better than fancy but bad.
10. Do make sure your CV is comprehensive
We will want to know what modules you studied at university and what results you got as well as your degree results. We also prefer to know what you studied at school and what your exam results were there. Missing these things out may put you at a disadvantage over those who include them.
Include all relevant jobs you’ve had, and describe what you achieved in them. A relevant job is any job that uses skills you will also need in the job you’re applying for now. It doesn’t have to be in the same field.
If you’re a designer type and you want to do an infographic CV, that’s fine, but it still has to include all the same information in a way we can understand easily. And it has to be a good infographic, too.
11. Do give your CV a filename that enables us to identify it easily
It really helps us keep track of whose CV is whose if you put your own name in the CV filename. We receive lots called something like CV.pdf or CV-new.docx. We want CVs with filenames such as your-name-CV.pdf.
12. Do apply before the deadline
We always give a clear cut-off date and time. After this time, the ‘Apply Now’ button gets removed from the job listing and the option for that job is removed from the application form.
We won’t consider applications that arrive as speculative enquiries after the correct form option has been removed. To do so would be unfair to the people who did apply in time. Instead, we will treat them like any other speculative enquiry: if they show promise we will keep them on file and consider them if we need to recruit someone else within the next three months.
If you missed out on one round of recruitment advertising then keep looking: we usually recruit more than once a year.
Now, if you do all of these 12 things perfectly, we still can’t guarantee you an interview. You still need to actually have the skills and attributes we need. What doing all these things (and not doing the other things) will definitely do is give you a good opportunity to show those skills and attributes off to their best advantage and make us notice them.
We get a lot of applications for our jobs, and we don’t have time to dig for buried treasure in them. Make it easy for us to see what an amazing employee you could be.