Advice: first jobs & working from home

These are “strange times” we’re living in, as it seems like every other email sign-off is reminding us these days. Getting your first job in publishing isn’t easy at the best of times, but things might feel especially intimidating now. We’ve asked around the virtual office at EUP (which we reckon has a combined industry experience of over 300 years between us) and put together some advice for anyone applying for their first publishing job:

  • “Now’s a good time to make sure your basics are up-to-scratch. You already know you need impeccable language skills, but you’ll also need a solid grasp of arithmetic. Saying that you’re ‘not a maths person’ is not going to get you in the door; make sure you are confident with multiplying, dividing and percentages. If you need some practice, there are lots of websites that can help e.g.”

  • “It’s also a good time to brush up on the software and skills you’ll need. Maybe you’ll be using Adobe Creative Suite; you might need to know about websites (HTML, SEO, design and accessibility all play a part); social media isn’t just for marketing; there are various scheduling and CRM databases; everyone uses Word, Excel and email. And then there’s also the stuff that’s just plain interesting for publishers. We’ll be impressed if you’ve taken the time to complete some relevant courses or tutorials under your own steam.”

  • “Before you hit ‘send’, review what you’ve written once, then again, then go away and come back and look at it again. Maybe get someone else to read it too. I know none of us is perfect at the end of the day, but slips in grammar etc. and presentation are a real downer in applications – and especially so for jobs in publishing.”

  • “I think my top piece of advice would be to get yourself organised. Write everything down and keep the same info in an electronic diary with reminders because there are one million deadlines.”

  • “It’s difficult to find publishing work experience at the moment, but a lot of what publishers are looking for isn’t unique to publishing. Do you have experience of customer service? Being professional when working with difficult people? Solving problems? Keeping things on schedule? That’s what we want.”

We’ve also asked around for top tips for working from home – we’ve been working from our home offices/dining tables/sofas since the first lockdown in March. Since publishing people tend to be a sociable bunch, this definitely hasn’t been easy for everyone, but we do want to share some great suggestions from the team for how we’re surviving in this isolating new world:

  • “When working from home you are still in a team. On the cuddly side, that means you have friends even if they are at the other end of an email or a Zoom call, so never feel that you are cut off. On the businesslike side, that means you must remember to wear your ‘work hat’ when dealing with colleagues, clients and assignments, even if the rest of you is cocooned inside a onesie or a T-shirt + trackie bottoms.”

  • “Try to keep your work life separate from your home life. My office space is in a corner I only sit in when I’m working. If I’m there, I’m working; if I’m not, I’m not.”

  • “Even though you’re not going anywhere, consider working a ‘commute’ into your day to keep active and provide a mental break between home and work. I do 30 minutes of yoga in place of my usual walk to work.”

  • “Wear daytime clothes when you’re working. I’m not saying don’t wear pyjamas, just have separate daytime pyjamas and nighttime pyjamas.”

  • “Take proper breaks (doing your household chores is not a break). Get up and move around. Apparently we’re meant to get fresh air every now and then.”

  • “Sign off when you’re meant to. I have never had a job in publishing where the work was finished at the end of the day. That has not changed, and just because I’m already home and have nowhere else to be doesn’t mean I’m expected (or paid!) to work longer hours.”

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