I recently received an e-mail enquiring about my experiences working at Healthy Food Guide magazine, and since it’s a question that I’m asked faaairly frequently, I thought I’d share my tales with you! I was their Editorial Co-ordinator, and worked there from December of 2007 to December in 2008.
Q: How did you land the position on the magazine?
A: Every single day I would visit Seek (for those who aren’t sure of what this is, it’s a job advertisement website!) and type “magazines” into the search engine. I would then read every advertisement, in the hopes of finding something that I could actually apply for. Since I had no previous magazine experience, and hadn’t studied anything in the relevant field, this was, initially, (extremely?!) a little bit difficult! But! I persevered, and made it my daily mission to look for possibilities.
Eventually, I found the perfect listing – it stated that applicants didn’t need to possess any previous experience, and that the position was ideal for “kickstarting a career in the publishing industry!” To apply, applicants had to attach a resume, along with a 25 word or less summary of why they thought the position would suit them – I answered it one afternoon, and was thrilled to receive a call that very same evening to arrange a time for an interview!
Q: What sort of job functions did you perform, and what sort of responsibilities did you have?
A: Basically, I had to keep the office running like a well-oiled machine, which meant that I could be doing anything from purchasing products for articles, arranging flowers for a TV interview with Today Tonight, or trying to locate a piece of jammed paper in the photocopier. (Oh, the glamour!)
I was solely responsible for managing subscriptions and handling all reader enquiries, but on any given day, I could also be assisting the advertising team with material chasing, participating in an editorial meeting to contribute my ideas for upcoming stories, and researching information. It was a varied role which kept me constantly busy, but it was a fantastic experience as I was given the opportunity to compile articles, too. This was a huge deal for me, and assisted in building my resume`.
Q: I want a job in the industry. When applying, what should I include in MY resume`?
A: Ideally, ANY writing experience that you may have had. Did you work on a newspaper/newsletter at high school? Win a short story competition as a youngster? Volunteer at your favourite publication? Start a blog? Anything helps, so don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements!
If you don’t believe that you do have anything relevant to list, don’t sweat it – write an amazing cover letter, and blow them away with your enthusiasm instead. A lot of people think cover letters are antiquated and unnecessary… I don’t! I think they allow your personality to shine through in a way that sometimes, a resume` just can’t.
Think about it: if you were in the position of hiring staff, and received a well-written, clever and charming cover letter amongst a sea of standard resumes`… wouldn’t you just be gagging to meet the person who submitted it?! On that same note, I’m also not convinced that all resumes` need to be boring, unoriginal Microsoft Word documents.. if you’re applying for a magazine, why not make your resume` into a mini publication? Design a cover, and make the headlines your best attributes! If you’re aiming to work in a cake shop, why not shape your resume` into that of a cupcake, or use a border on a document with tiny profiteroles? Think outside the square!
Q: What positions should I consider applying for?
A: Honestly, the majority of positions (if you have no experience, like I did!) will be entry-level positions, such as ‘Office/Editorial Coordinator’, ‘Subscriptions/Publishing Assistant’, and ‘Junior Staff Writer’ – which isn’t a bad thing at all, but some people can find difficult – especially if they’ve come from an occupation in which they held a more “prestigious” job title.
Prior to working at Healthy Food Guide, I’d been working as a Retail Manager, and when my previous boss learned this during the interview process, she wasn’t so sure that I could, in her words, “go from the top to the bottom.” I assured her that this wasn’t a problem for me, and it wasn’t – I actually think it was really beneficial – it certainly taught me a lot about life, and people, and was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had.
Q: What sort of salary should I expect?
A: Hmm… from what I’ve witnessed (and experienced!), a fairly modest one! Again, this didn’t bother me at all – upon searching for work, I had already geared myself up for the possibility that I may not be able to find anything, and would have to complete months’ of unpaid work experience just to get my foot in the door… so when a salary was offered, no matter how conservative, I was super appreciative, and probably would’ve even accepted the job for less!“But I have BILLS to pay!”, I hear you cry. Yes, yes – I hear you! Which is why I recommend supplementing your income with a part-time job. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous – why not sell clothing at markets on the weekend, or work in a perfume shop for a few hours on a Saturday? If this doesn’t seem feasible, look at ways of reducing how much you spend – could you cut down on your late-night shopping trips? Bring your lunch everyday instead of buying it? Quit smoking? Move back home with your parents, to save on rent? There are always options!
Q: When it comes to the interview, what do you think they want to hear?
A: Enthusiasm, and bucketloads of it! Demonstrate your zest and passion for life – be funny, be charming, and sing your praises! Explain your eagerness and your desire to work hard, and state that you’re willing to learn every aspect of publishing. Also, be a little bit nervous – for a lot of us, this will come naturally, but in my interview, my boss admitted that she couldn’t believe the number of applicants who had attended the interview only to act enormously cocky, to the extent of announcing that “her job didn’t seem that hard, and that they could probably do it in a year!” To a Managing Director, with over 10 years’ experience, this was more than slightly offensive – and understandably! Remember: a little bit of humility will go a long way.