Journey to Employment

I am beyond delighted, excited, thrilled, overjoyed, and any other euphoric superlatives you can think of that this week is my first week of work in publishing!

And as you’ll know if you read this blog or follow my Twitter, that this has not been an easy journey – in fact at times it has been terrible. Of course, it is not easy for anyone going into publishing, one of the most notoriously difficult industries to get into. And yet, I daresay you will not find a more determined bunch of people trying to get in.

I want to document my journey here, with no frills, and pure emotions, to demonstrate the realities of getting a job in publishing and to show you that with tenacity and determination, it is possible.

(no names of companies I applied to will be mentioned nor names of their employees)


The preliminaries 

My first insight into publishing came in 2014, when I was lucky enough to do two weeks work experience in the Marketing department at Hodder & Stoughton. I fell head over heels immediately for the industry and knew this was where my future lay.

I followed this up with two weeks at Penguin General the following year, before finishing my degree in English Literature and Hispanic Studies.

Throughout my final year, I nurtured my blog, volunteered twice for the Bookseller, and kept my toes in the publishing water by being active in the community on Twitter.


The journey 

I began my applications on the 26th of April 2016 (which I remember because it was the day I handed in my final dissertations). My job was offered to me on the 16th of September 2016, which makes a total of 143 days of applications, interviews and rejections.

The process began quickly; I sent in the first application on the 3rd of May and was invited the very next day for an interview on the 10th of May. It was a job I was terribly excited about and, understandably, I was devastated when I got that first rejection, because it had appeared to be going so well.

What followed was a phone interview with another company, who then rejected me based on my not being able to start straight away (I had to finish my degree, of course) and then a very long dry spell.

I made the huge mistake of rejecting an interview for a 6-month internship at a Big Company, because in my words I was ‘looking for something more permanent’. What could have been more permanent than a brilliant paid internship at a leading publisher? I was naive and still thinking I could walk into a job following my graduation.

I began documenting my applications at the end of June/beginning of July on an Excel spreadsheet – which really helped because it made my applications really clear to me, especially the dates of application and when the position closed.

As we know, lots of companies don’t respond to your applications after 2 weeks if you’ve not been successful, so having a spreadsheet helped me to keep track of these closing dates to know if it had been 2 weeks and I should just give up waiting for the email.

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-15-27-54

As you can see, it was a very long process, with lots of red (and brown, which was when I made those assumptions that I had not been accepted).

At one point I had two interviews in one day for internships, and when I was rejected from both of these, I began to panic and wildly sent in applications for anywhere and everywhere (including fashion brands I was not particularly enthusiastic about), and speculative applications where I could.

I began to realise my applications would only be good if I was really passionate about the position, and to stop wasting time sending such half-hearted applications. I also realised that if I believed in myself, other people would too, so I followed advice I had been given at London Book Fair, to apply for positions that on paper I might not be qualified for (such as those asking for 1 year’s experience). It could not hurt to send in an application and see where it led me… and it led me to my job.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to get a chance and someone decided I was good enough.


So is the point of all this?

  • Don’t give up on your dreams
  • It will happen
  • If you believe in yourself, someone else will
  • Treat every application like it’s the one you will be hired for
  • Be proud of your achievements
  • Life is what you make it
  • (Other clichés)

As the great Miley Cyrus once said, it’s a climb, but the view is great.

Happy to read CVs and Cover Letters, and always to talk about our experiences.

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14 thoughts on “Journey to Employment

  1. Congratulations on getting a brilliant job! You’ve made some great points in this post. I myself have just graduated and have just done some work experience with Penguin Random House. I’m applying for internships and work experiences atm. Just a quick question, how many work experiences and internships in total had you done before getting your first job? 🙂

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  2. OMG congratulations on getting your job- thats such amazing news! I’m sure you’ll do so well 🙂 I’m in a similar situation. I decided to leave my job and pursue a career in publishing of April this year (my notice period was 2 months long so I had to risk it and leave). I’ve had a few interviews here and there but I have been rejected a lot. I have just completed an unexpected 2 weeks publishing work experience though, so I’m hoping it can only go up from here! Anyway, all the best with your new career! 😀

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  3. I am thankful to see that I am not the only one with a spreadsheet of despair. Is it at all possible to ask for a CV/ Cover letter critique? It would be nice to know if I am doing something wrong or if it is just the fate of the universe.

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    • But of course! The spreadsheet of despair was actually one of the best things I did during the job search.. clarified everything for me. Do drop me an email: cer.rose@hotmail.co.uk and always happy to look at CVs and Cover Letters. Though, disclaimer, I am by no means an expert – just a gal who sent a load of em out.

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  4. Pingback: Best Books of 2016 – aka, I Am A Terrible Person | Creative Commentary

  5. Hi! I know it’s probably weird me commenting on an old link, but I came across this through twitter (following PubInterns)! I’ve come to a point where I have applied to so many publishing jobs that I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Either my cover letter is too bland or I don’t have enough experience (most likely both) but I’m seriously striking out! Any words of advice? And would it be possible for you to run your eyes over my cover letter to see how I could improve please?

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    • It’s not that weird because I just shared it on Twitter again! 😂😂 of course I’ll look at your CV and Cover Letter – drop me an email cer.rose@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll give it a look over and we can have a chat about where to go from here. Disclaimer: I am not an expert, I just applied to a lot of jobs.

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  6. Thank you for this really useful post – and for @pubinterns in general which is such a good resource. Having successfully made it through the process, do you have any thoughts on whether or not it’s wise to apply for multiple positions with the same organisation, especially at the same time? Part of me thinks it would harm one’s chances – if the same HR staff reads two different cover letters tailored to two different jobs, they might question how much the applicant wants either one. But perhaps not?

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    • I do think there’s no harm in applying for multiple positions as long as you make sure your cover letter (and CV, e.g. if one is marketing and one is editorial, you should have two different CVS) are tailored to the individual position. Sometimes I do wonder if HR even recognise seeing a name multiple times or if it’s just another CV to them, so really I don’t think there’s any harm in applying to two positions – just make sure you tailor! And if you’re leaning more towards one than the other, it should show in your letter.

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  7. This is really helpful (again coming across the link on pubinterns) I’ve started a tracker myself and it’s equal parts useful and a bit disheartening! I noticed you’d mentioned looking over CVs and wondered if you would still be happy to do that? No worries if not but any feedback at all would be a huge help!

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