My Way: Ali Hall, editor of LOOK magazine
'Make sure your covering letter is interesting'
Thursday 21 January 2010
Ali Hall is the editor of LOOK, the weekly fashion magazine, and the former editor of Slimming and More magazines.
What did you want to be as a child?
Really weirdly, I always wanted to be a journalist. I only wavered twice. The first time was after my A-Levels when I was sick of studying and thought I might become a midwife. I went to a training session and there I watched a video of a woman giving birth and I thought: "There's no way I'm doing that!" Then I worked in a bank for two days and was told to do spreadsheets. I nearly killed myself.
Was your degree in English at the University of Liverpool worth it?
Oh God yeah. I always had my head in a book and wanted to do something I really enjoyed.
How did you get into journalism?
I went to all the local papers in Cheshire and said: "Can I work for you for nothing?" I got a job as a reporter because I was determined.
How did you work your way up?
I wanted to get to London, so I applied for the post of features assistant at Slimming magazine. I did that application like my life depended on it, by producing my own magazine.
How did you become editor?
I knew what was wrong with the magazine and I was passionate. I never thought I'd be an editor, just a writer. Weirdly, I don't now do what I set out to do.
Did you have a career plan?
All the time, because I knew I wanted to work for a mainstream magazine.
Do you consider yourself successful?
I do. I do something I love and I have a laugh everyday at work.
What's the best decision you've ever made?
Going to that bank for two days. I swayed from my dream and learnt I should follow it.
What are your interview tips?
If someone wants a job here, they have to know the magazine inside out and they have to be passionate. You'd be amazed but sometimes people haven't even read the last issue!
What are your CV tips?
I don't even get to the CV if the covering letter is boring. Recently a girl made her own jewellery and she and a friend did a mini photoshoot, using a very basic camera, and she made it look like a magazine. That was her covering letter.
Who are your heroes?
It's not some big famous media figure; it's the small people I've met along the way who really believed in me. And I'm from a generation where my mum said I could do whatever I want and I'm grateful for that.
How do I get to be where you are?
It doesn't matter if you've done a journalism course : it's whether you can write and you really want the job. Get work experience and realise you will have to work for free at some point.
What's the best perk of your job?
Everyday I get to talk about things that really interest me: celebrities, clothes, what's happening in the world ... and that's work!
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