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Employability and Publishing

November 4th, 2014 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Employability and Publishing
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Illustration by John Griffiths in Penguins Progress 1935-1960    Penguin Books Ltd., September 1960

Alec Spencer, from our MRes in Publishing Studies, considers employability questions:

It seems to me, probably as it does to many observers and those within the publishing industry, that the publishing industry is in a period of massive change. The new technologies are impacting in many ways, and in ways still to be discovered. Were I to be a publisher, I would be only too well aware of the Henry Ford aphorism “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”. Doing things the same way as in the past must surely lead to stagnation and extinction.

As someone not really contemplating a further career, I thought I might reflect on what an employer or recruiter is really looking for. While I would obviously want applicants to have the basic skills and competencies (skill set) required in the industry, what I would require is someone with flair, imagination and drive to take my company forward. In the end, an employer wants his or her company to be successful and make profit. To do so, the employee has to add value.

In an environment where there is competition for employment, employers can take their pick. From what I have said it is clear that simply having the requisite skill set may not be sufficient to propel the applicant into a job. In addition to luck or happenstance I would suggest that four things are required: First, the applicant has already shown flair and imagination in broadening their interests and skills, that they have additional ‘new’ skills in new technologies and new media (e.g. they can blog). Second, they can achieve, so that in addition to their academic and vocational successes, they can demonstrate achievement – that they have already done something of value (e.g. have a well established and well followed blog, developed a web-site, published something of their own). Third, they can demonstrate an energy which shows their drive and enthusiasm. It would be good to example an activity undertaken with passion which has a positive outcome. Finally, they have the capacity to translate this into an enticing application letter and CV.

As in good writing, or when meeting someone, it is the first few moments that have the highest impact. The short application letter must transmit the energy, accomplishments, and the potential for added value that the candidate brings.