Candidly Careering #4: The View From 6 Weeks In Publishing

Candidly Careering #4: The View From 6 Weeks In Publishing

In the glamorous view of my job as a literary agency assistant, my hours are consumed by thinking about words. Reading them, judging them, and then composing my own sentences of them to convey these judgments on what I read to the two agents to whom I provide support.

In reality, I spent two hours on a Friday calling florists to see what particularly beautiful or unusual potted flowers to send to one of our authors only to call back the following Monday to demand a refund when the blue hydrangeas were delivered wilted.

I was that florist’s nightmare.

But having blue hydrangeas show up in unacceptable condition to a 50+ time New York Times Bestselling author is — by all accounts — an agency’s nightmare.

Most days I fall in between these two extremes. I provide administrative support, absolutely: sorting mail, filing copyright confirmations, typing memos for project files based upon various e-mails received by the office from publishers, answering phones, the list goes on. But I also get the chances to learn about agent work through researching editorial contacts for submission, reading second round manuscripts after an unsolicited query makes it past the interns (who, quite frankly, save my sanity by handling the queries). I’m particularly grateful for the one agent in my office who has taken me under her wing as a mentee and does more than within her power to introduce me to each step of whatever task she is working on.

Whenever it gets tough, and it does because it’s still a job, I stop myself and pep talk myself to the phrase, “Yes, but you finally work in publishing.” And that still somehow holds the magic.

This is how I know that I’m still enamored with my job.

Today I was lucky enough to meet one of our authors. My big boss, the Head-Honcho, called and told me to mark this meeting two weeks in advance. I quickly did, jotting down the various other tasks for the day. “KH in office. 2:30.” And as the day drew nearer, I started to plan. I booked a hair appointment for 7:00 a.m. that day so I could look polished and primped — a master feat considering the way I had been spiraling into work of late. I laid out my clothes the night before. I asked the Head-Honcho whether she needed me to pick up refreshments for the appointment (a point she quickly dismissed, but I hope was noted). And when KH entered the office, I stood up and walked around my desk to shake her hand like the absolute clown that I am.

Yes, I fangirled at my own office for an author whose work I admire. But now I can say that I not only admire her, but I represent her — or, at the very most, support the people who represent her. That’s touching greatness, if not yet there myself.

So when the days hit where I feel very Devil Wears Prada, switching out my shoes under my desk and drafting e-mails for review rather than sitting and diving into query submissions, or the days when I’m scolding a florist for wilted blooms, there are the days when the extraordinary happens that 9-year-old Rose with her nose in a book would gape at.

And that’s pretty damn cool.

Candidly Careering #3: Writing *THAT* Résumé

Candidly Careering #3: Writing *THAT* Résumé

I was haphazardly lucky enough to land into the recruitment career track for a brief five months thanks to — and I’m not making this up — a Bumble BFF match. I had zero experience but what I did have was gumption and the gall to call myself a “people-first person.” While the position was ultimately what opened my eyes to the fact that publishing is without a doubt, 100% what I want to devote my life to, it did provide me with some valuable insight to what makes a résumé click when it comes through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to the 9-times-out-of-10 lazy recruiter.

And those tips are exactly what I am going to share with you.

  1. Always include a “Profile” or “Summary.” I cannot, cannot, cannot emphasize this enough. At least in my industry, your cover letter isn’t getting read until it lands on the hiring manager’s desk — that’s the second reader. In order to get there, you have to first impress the recruiter or HR manager. They’re there to quickly glance and determine qualifications. Three or four short, purposeful sentences at the top of your resume are great to sell to them who you are, what you’re good at, and why you are the best candidate for this job.
  2. Tailor, Tailor, Tailor. Every résumé should be tailored to the job you are applying for. I know, that sounds exhausting. But it shows when it comes through the ATS that you actually want this job more than just a throw-away submission. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received résumés with “expected graduation” dates that have already passed. All that shows is laziness. Going the extra mile in not only keeping your résumé up to date, but tailored to the specific application shows interest.
  3. Tell a story, but make sure it’s your story. This shows specifically in the action verbs that should without a doubt start every bullet point under every position you’ve held. Always start with an attention grabbing action verb. Show exactly how you benefitted the team you were working with, how you were a key component of their success.
  4. Don’t worry about gaps. If anything, worry about putting irrelevant material on there that will turn a recruiter away by saying you’re “unqualified.” Simply list your relevant experience under a title stating exactly that — “Relevant Experience.” It’ll make you seem like you tailored it for them (which you should have) while still leaving an air of ~ m y s t e r y ~.
  5. Use design sparingly. We all love those beautiful résumés on Etsy and Pinterest, but honestly what’s more important is getting your qualifications across. Don’t make it bulky but also don’t waste time with white space. Make sure to fit the entire résumé on one page and have it look cohesive.

Now go out there and get that job!!!

All my love x

Candidly Careering #2: Returning To My Passion

Candidly Careering #2: Returning To My Passion

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.

Roald Dahl

In recent weeks, I have been incredibly vocal to those in my life about my distaste for my current career. And while I could list the various aspects that drive me to pull the magnifying mirror to the center of my desk and stress pluck errant hairs from my face with my thumb and forefinger, that ultimately serves no purpose. The end result is the same: I feel the lack of upward mobility and what is available in the longer term is lackluster to me.

Before accepting my job, I sobbed. I bent over my knees on my small available floorspace and actively grieved the fact that I was putting my dreams and aspirations of the greater part of a decade on hold. All that work, all that fantasy, evaporated before my very eyes. And yet I still accepted to role, mostly at the pure want of my bank account.

I truly do enjoy aspects of recruitment — but what I enjoy is precisely what I would have done within the literary agency arena: screen resumes (review manuscripts), contact candidates (interact with authors), negotiate terms of contracts (negotiate terms of contracts). I find myself incredibly lucky to have the overlap of skills so vibrantly apparent.

But it isn’t enough.

Interacting with the literary community was an essential part of my identity construction; it lent an opportunity for belonging, something psychologists widely agree is a human social need. And with barely the energy to read after work, I was stripped of even the opportunity to attend book clubs.

So when the opportunity appeared to apply to a well-established literary agency for an assistant/support role, I jumped. I took a leap of faith and I sprung from that cliff into the foggy below without the faintest clue of whether I would find myself at the bottom or not.

Reader: I landed not only alive but on two feet.

In the weeks of interviewing, I delved back into the contemporary literary marketplace to have recent reads to discuss, lighting my mind once more with words and phrases and thoughts that had once run quiet. I performed a sample manuscript review and reader report, typing up two comprehensive pages on marketability and textual strengths and weaknesses to consider before making a decision on whether to sign the author. And finally, I was able to accept a role that promises to not only take me back into the community that I withdrew from in the interim since London but to launch me on an upward trajectory that is anything but lackluster.

The change in anticipation of the career switch is palpable. I carry a novel with me wherever I go again, and I’m attending a book club next Wednesday. I took a pleasure trip to the Strand bookstore — my first of what will be many. I bought two — two! — bookshelves for my apartment. Roald Dahl was absolutely, unequivocally correct: it is far better to be an enthusiast. It lights a fire under you and within you, and that fire will sustain you as long as you feed it. The good news is, pages burn.

All my love x

On learning a new dream

On learning a new dream

I have wanted to be a CEO, a real estate agent, an architect, a Disney princess impersonator, and most recently an editor, a publisher, and a literary agent. Not once did capital-“R” Recruiter for a healthcare company enter the realm of potential career opportunities in my future imaginings. And yet, I have just completed my first month of work within that very role.

But I am entirely out of my element.

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

Albert Einstein

My background is based concretely in literature and communication studies, from skipping out of my science course Senior Year of high school to my dual B.A. in English and Communication from Villanova to my M.A. in Publishing. There’s a heavy learning curve with every day at my new job, educating myself in the jargon of medical technicians and professionals from their credentials to their daily tasks. I’m proud to say that after a month I can easily differentiate between limited permit credentialing and LMSWs, LMHCs, LCSWs, RNs, and the rest. I can discuss the differences between Doctors Board and 1199 unions and which covers which staff.

However, at every point of my career daydreams, I always wanted to engage in a profession that connected people with their own passions and their own dreams. I wanted something social, something that was people-oriented. And that is certainly what I am doing.

My days are spent reviewing resumes and arranging interviews with hiring managers, helping to host employee engagement events and manning career fairs. I’ve become adept at applicant tracking systems and reading people quickly but still fairly. I’m confident that my skills will only improve with time.

This is all a very long way to say that while I never thought of myself as a Recruiter for a talent acquisition career, I feel pleasantly surprised that I found a comfortable footpath to follow.

I’m determined to be the very best at this job that I can be, even if it fell into my lap haphazardly.