Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Story of Hope: Marian Uses Online Social Media to Land an Awesome Job

I met Marian Schembari through Twitter last week. She discovered my blog and was excited to find someone else who has been writing about getting a job in publishing. So she followed me on Twitter, I followed her back, and we ended up chatting over e-mail. I checked out her blog and was mightily impressed: Here was someone who had used online networking sites in an innovative way to break into the publishing industry—at a time when, let's face it, jobs are hard to come by.

So I asked her to tell her story here. Check it out and get inspired!

I really wanted to get into publishing. Like, a lot. Never mind that the industry is slowly dying, the economy sucks, I had zero experience and the pay is (and always will be) crap. No, I'm a book lover, and in my naïve - but enthusiastic - mindset, I thought that was all I needed.

So I spent the three months after my May graduation carefully editing my resume, crafting the perfect cover letter, and applying for every single job at every single publisher in New York. I stalked mediabistro and bookjobs, made a ton of contacts and... well, that was pretty much it. I had one interview in 3 months.

I got bored of that real fast. Even though I was working all day every day, I just felt like I was waiting... So I took out a ton of books (of course) from the local library on finding a job, marketing yourself and personal branding. I designed a website with my resume, references and writing samples. Then, with Facebook's enormously helpful targeting options, I was able to post an ad on the profiles of people at places like HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin, Rodale, Macmillan, etc.

And I got responses! At least one person from every publisher I focused on emailed to say they passed on my resume, wanted to meet, or even just to say they liked my idea. The encouragement was fantastic, and within a week I had four interviews and a freelance gig.

Of course, advertising yourself to get a job is a little weird, I have to admit. It's one of those stories you hear about people wearing their resume on a t-shirt or taking cookies to an interview. No one wants to be that person.

Except I was that person. And an article written about my search on the HarperStudio blog resulted in a lot of lovely and encouraging comments (many of which said they weren't hiring. Figures). Only two people were cynical, not much liking my use of wording, but the ad generated much more positive feedback than negative, so I'm over it.

After the novelty of the ads wore off, though, I knew I needed something different to get people's attention. So I started a blog, chronicling my search and talking a little about publishing and where it's headed. Then I (reluctantly) signed up for Twitter, which 1 week later landed me a sweet interview at Penguin.

One month later and I'm employed. Long story short, a woman at Rodale saw my ad, emailed me and thought I should consider book publicity. She passed my resume on to an old employer who ran a book PR firm. One thing led to another and I'm now in my third week as associate publicist.

I couldn't be happier now that I'm officially "in" publishing. I also know I'm enormously lucky. The thing is, I don't actually know one person who's gotten a job the old-fashioned way. Sorry HR, but it's true. Plus, it makes for an interesting story. My campaign made me consider a career I had never considered and now I'm loving it. All in all a pretty successful endeavor.


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Marian, congrats! You have the skills and intelligence to take you far. Way to work social media!

AlleyPat said...

Congrats! So I'd like to hear more about the Twitter and the job, how that went about happening.

sumit0007 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.