Tips from an Alt-Ac Hiring Manager: What I Look for in Job Applications

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been on the hunt for experienced copyeditors and developmental editors: desirable positions for many academics transitioning out of the ivory tower. Many people who are on the inside looking out wonder how to make their applications look better for hiring managers like me. Let me give you a few insider tips on what I look for in applications.

1. Follow the application instructions

This seems so simple, yet you’d be surprised at how many people don’t follow the instructions for how to apply. If you find the job posting on a common search site like LinkedIn or Indeed, the first step is to see if the employer accepts applications directly on those sites (tip: if they don’t, your materials likely won’t be considered).

I use specific instructions like using specific subject line not only to differentiate candidates from the rest of the bulk of email I receive but also to see who follows directions well—one of the key aspects of working as an editor at our company.

2. Provide a resume, not an academic CV

When asked to provide a resume, do not send your academic CV. Send a resume that’s two pages, max. Hiring managers shouldn’t need to wade through information that’s not directly useful to them. Tailor your job to the industry and even to the specific job you’re applying to so that the reviewer can see how you’re a fit at first glance; many of us don’t have time to piece together your profile from a ten-page document. Cool templates are a plus!

3. Make your cover letter short and sweet

Whereas academic cover letters are typically two full single-spaced pages, alt-ac and industry apps require only one page. Any more, and you’re giving TMI. The letter should name the job you’re applying to and how you found the listing (referrals are always great!), how your experience suits the job posting, and your passion for the industry and company. It should be conversational and engaging.

4. Highlight extra training or skills that suit the job

You may not have direct experience in the industry you’re applying to, and that’s OK! In these cases, you’ll need to show how the experience you do have align with what the company is looking for. Will you be managing a team in this role? Show off how you led a committee to achieve results. Or maybe you’ll be expected to give client presentations—teaching is a natural lead-in to that! Show these things in your cover letter and resume. 

5. It’s not you, it’s me.

If you don’t receive a response from a potential employer, don’t take it as an insult. At least in our case, we have a very small core team and we’re only able to respond to those applicants we take next steps with.  

’Tis the season to find a new job! If you need more assistance with your application materials, let my team help you out.