Blazing a trail in publishing: Tips for accelerating your career progression

Having broken into the publishing industry and had a number of promotions, you feel like you’ve found your groove and are now ready to progress further.

Where do you start when it comes to getting a promotion for your ideal next role or company where you feel you can really flourish?

Progressing in your career can feel like a labyrinth of twists and turns that you need to navigate perfectly so you don’t end up at a dead end – or stuck going down the wrong path.

To help you discover where your next steps lie, we spoke to Raahki Vadera, HR Manager at Pan Macmillan. Raahki has some serious know-how about getting a promotion in publishing, and has kindly shared some of her personal top tips with us.

Many of our readers have been through their first couple of publishing roles and are feeling ready to progress. Where do you recommend people start?

If you want to stay within the same business or company do a review of your job description and update it for yourself and then compare that to the next level role. Speak to your manager about what you have developed over your first few years and ask if they can support you with progression. 

It might not always be possible to be promoted in the same business for various reasons from company size, headcount (especially if your role will need to be filled – for example Assistant Editor to Editor would require backfill) to budgetary, team size and so on – so also keep a lookout on the market or see what is out there.

What’s the biggest barrier to achieving a promotion in publishing, and do you have any tips for overcoming this?

Expecting it to just happen. If your manager isn’t aware of the detail of your role or the things you do above and beyond they are unlikely to be able to drive a promotion forward. Asking what you need to be doing to be considered for a promotion is also a good way to get there.

Do you have any top CV/covering letter tips for people applying for their next career step?

Keep your CV to no more than two A4 sides. Your covering letter shouldn’t repeat your CV but it should highlight the reasons and experience you have in relation to the job description. A hiring manager should be able to read your covering letter and see why you’re the person for the role based on the experience you have, skills you have to offer and interest you have in the area. Your CV is essentially a backup document for the covering letter.

How can publishing professionals use their side hustles to chart their own route to career progression? 

If your side hustle is something in relation to the role then talk about your observations – what you have noticed in the outside market. Progression for me is in your hands, so you need to get comfortable backing yourself and taking feedback on board to improve.

What training do you recommend people seek for building up key skills for promotions?

This one for me is about networking, observing and shadowing. If your company has learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, then use those to upskill, ask to see more senior job descriptions, and the main thing is always self-awareness.

How can newcomers to publishing learn about progressing through the industry and the career paths available to them?

Attending events, networking with others at the same level in other areas, arranging a chat or email exchange with someone in the business whose role is appealing to you (someone two or three career steps ahead of you). There is so much available online across all publishers’ websites, so do your research too!

So, over to you. What helped you the most when you were progressing in your career and stepping up with promotions? Whether through mentoring or joining communities, we would love to hear your thoughts!