Q. There is a publication I want to work at that often hires people without posting jobs, by bringing in people who know current staffers. I have some vague acquaintances there but nobody who would know me well enough to vouch for me and try to bring me in. What is the best way to pursue opportunities there? Just send my resume? Ask for information interviews? Or wait and try to network to meet the right people, which might take a long time?
A. All of the above.
First, don't underestimate the power of even a weak tie – just because someone doesn't know you well enough to vouch for you, just knowing her/him means it's more likely your résumé will get looked at. Don't be afraid to email or call this person and let her/him know that you're interested in working at her/his publication. Ask that s/he let you know if any openings come up and who you might be able to send your résumé to in the meantime. Then contact that person and request an information meeting. Your second option would be to ask for an information interview with an HR person, but that might not be as effective.
You'll also want to work on building connections by attending industry events and meeting new people – you never know who might know someone. Perhaps you'll hit it off with the best friend of the editor of your dream magazine. Networking is the best way to hear about openings that aren't advertised.
And, if you're at the beginning of your career and hunting for an entry-level job, you might want to consider presuing an internship at the publication, which is a great way to let the staff get to know you, your talents and your work ethic. If you're beyond that, do other work for them – ask if there are fact-checking opportunities or, even better, pitch them story ideas.
For more, check out Service Canada's Training and Careers site (not all of it is relevant to the magazine industry, but you'll find some good tips).
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.