Human Resources: the shiny beacon of hope that stands between you and your dream magazine job. But when career sites seem like black holes for your resume, how else do you score an interview with HR so you can show them how amazing you are? Ed ran the “what if’s” and “how do I’s” by four HR representatives who field the resumes and conduct the interviews — see what they had to say below.
What kind of resume and cover letter grabs your attention?
Put your contact information front and center and if you just graduated, put your education at the top. But above all, skip the bells and whistles. “Resumes with crazy elaborate designs, photos of the applicant and/or hard-to-read fonts are bad,” says Meg Gruppo, Executive Director, Human Resources Editorial at Conde Nast. “People can judge those types of things negatively, so always err on the more conservative side.”
Your cover letter should be relevant and above all, accurate. That means you should triple check your work to avoid making a faux pas like sending a cover letter for an EA gig at Esquire to a Time Inc. rep. “Looking for a job is a full-time job, so you need to do your research and put the time in when it comes to your resume and cover letter,” says Liz Tan, Human Resources Manager and Sales Business Partner at SAY Media. “Get good at feeding soundbites about yourself and keep the letter short, simple and eloquently written.”
Don’t apply for every single job. “If I see your cover letter and resume for an EA job and then for a photo assistant opening too, then it tells me ‘This person has no idea what they want to do,'” says Amy Helmus, Human Resources Manager at Hearst Magazines.
Do I include my sorority/fraternity on my resume?
Tran believes including your involvement with Greek Life (or any nationally recognized club) is a way to connect with an editor or HR rep. “If I come across someone who was in my sorority, I would definitely give them a call,” says Tran.
“A sorority or fraternity is good to include when you’re just out of college. But don’t include every activity you’ve been apart of — be selective. I like to see what hobbies the applicant has,” adds Gruppo.
What’s the best way to nab an interview with you besides the career site?
If you’re an intern, ask your editor at about halfway through your internship if he or she wouldn’t mind forwarding your resume through to HR. Or, use your network and college alumni to meet people in the magazine industry to give you a referral. “This gives a face to a resume. Never leave your resume at the front desk — we have no way of identifying you from the other applicants who are cold calling or cold emailing,” says Gruppo.
If you’re not an intern or you don’t have a connection, send through an email with your resume attached (and a link to your portfolio if applicable) with a subject line like “Recent Grad Requesting Info Interview” etc.
What are your tips for acing the interview?
Have something interesting and compelling to say. It may be your only interview that day, but for the rep you’re interviewing with, it’s his or her twentieth. “I try to dig deep. I enjoy people who have a clear picture of what they want and who they want to be,” says Tran.
Test drive your outfit and be confident. “Don’t wear a new outfit for the very first time, because you’ll be uncomfortable and that will show in your interview,” says Gruppo. “Make eye contact and have a good handshake — this interview is the one time to exude self confidence.”
Don’t be distracting. That means leave the jangly jewelry at home, skip the perfume and throw out your gum and coffee cup before you enter the building. “Some perfumes make me sick to the point where I might have to end the interview early. And I’ve had candidates leave trash in my office once the interview is over — that leaves a bad taste!” says Helmus.
Do I have to wear a suit?
While all four reps say that a suit is not necessary, don’t choose an outfit that’s too casual or too of-the-moment.
Should I bring my published clips?
“Bring a portfolio just in case and always offer it or ask if you can leave a couple of copies of a few things,” says Helmus.
“Have PDFs on hand and bring them every time. And make sure you have several copies of your resume because you never know how far [in the interview process] you’ll go that day,” adds Gruppo.
Do I really need to send a handwritten thank you note?
To mail a card or not to mail a card, that is the question. “Send an email that day and then send a thoughtful, handwritten thank you note within the next day or two so it arrives and refreshes my memory of you,” says Helmus.
Now that I’ve interviewed and sent my thank you notes, how do I follow up?
“I’m okay with a follow-up via email every other week,” says Helmus, who adds to not get discouraged if you don’t get an email back every time. “I receive tons of emails a day so it’s impossible to answer every one — but that doesn’t mean I didn’t see it. Just be sure to attach your resume so I don’t have to dig around for it.”
Wait…do I even need to interview with HR?
Yes, because they might know about department changes and openings before the staff does. “You can go interview with editors at a magazine, but then you’re only applying for one job or jobs at that title. With HR, we meet you and keep you in the pile for future opportunities in the whole company,” says Gruppo.