For most graduates and perhaps final year students, getting business experience and their first job is a pressing matter. If you are keen to enter the world of communications then you need a strategy, a plan and lots of good advice.
Thanks to insights gathered from our former student members we’ve put together a practical guide to help those keen to get onto the business communications career ladder.
The Digital CV
These days the way your present yourself in LinkedIn is more important than ever. You may not have a lot of experience to add to your professional profile, however follow these tips and you’re one step closer to your dream job:
- Make sure you have a professional picture (leave the fun ones for Facebook)
- Make sure you have a complete profile
- Include keywords that will help recruiters to find you when searching for candidates
- List any internship experience or volunteer assignments
- Ask for recommendations from your lecturers and peers on projects you’ve worked together on
- Write a good summary description thinking about what differentiates you from others in terms of skills and expertise
- Ask someone else to read over your profile and give you some feedback
- Take a look at the profiles of people you admire or want to emulate for ideas
Create your CV based on your LinkedIn profile and upload it to job sites, but target job boards who specialize in the areas you want to focus on.
Join a Professional Association
One of the best moves towards your dream job is joining a professional association such as the IABC UK. It can open a world of opportunities through networking and knowledge sharing of real business challenges faced in the communication industry.
Ensure you get involved either by contributing ideas, offer to write a blog, volunteer your time during events, help them conduct research and benchmarking, implement changes and efficiencies in terms of ways of working by leveraging digital and new technology. All of these activities can help prepare you for a career in communication and marketing where most sought-after skills are:
- Building effective relationships
- The ability to embrace change
- Being passionate, hungry to learn, curious
- Being open and collaborative
- Influencing others
- Writing skills
Take an active role in your association’s social channels, participate in their LinkedIn Group, ask questions, contribute your ideas, make yourself known as someone generous with information about new trends, research and developments not just looking after your own interests.
Find a mentor
Management experts and business leaders agree: being mentored and mentoring can be a key tool to get you to the top of your profession. As expressed by the Harvard Business Review “Done right, mentoring is one of the most powerful, efficient ways to learn and to move up”.
Having a mentor to coach and guide you, champion your skills and recommend you for roles can make a huge difference to successful job hunting. IABC UK’s mentoring programme has matched communicators who work across a variety industries.
Through my personal experience I can testify to this, having a mentor and a life coach has helped me meet my goals both in business and personal life.
Specialist recruitment agencies
Getting in touch with recruitment companies specializing in communications roles is a fantastic way to find out more about the sector you are interested in. Attend recruitment events, ask for their opinion of your CV and LinkedIn profile, even ask them to help you prepare for interviews.
Developing a good relationship with a recruitment agent can help you land not only your first dream job but many more to come.
So, thanks to your very professional LinkedIn profile and CV you have an interview.
- Learn as much as possible about the company and the person who is interviewing you
- Read the Annual Report, check their website and social channels, find out if they have been in the news recently
- Learn about how the company operates – what are its strengths and weaknesses
- Be prepared to show how you can bring the most value
Most organizations want employees to be able to hit the ground running as any additional training time can be expensive for them, so try to relate your experience and expertise to the role.
Be yourself, speak with confidence and try to relax and smile. Show your passion without being too aggressive and most importantly listen to person interviewing you – don’t interrupt, pause and think before you answer.
Demonstrate your interest and knowledge of the company & that of the role by asking intelligent pertinent questions. Follow up with a thank you email, reminding them why you’re the best fit for the job. Be gracious even if you don’t get the job, ask for feedback and how you may improve for the future.
Your Digital Footprint
As vain as you may think this is, make sure you Google yourself on a regular basis whilst job hunting. It will allow you to see what prospective employers are seeing when they do a preliminary search on you.
- Delete any unused accounts that you wouldn’t want showing up in a search
- Set strict privacy settings for Facebook, and remember that everything you share on Twitter, LinkedIn and media sharing sites should reflect your professional brand
- No matter what your privacy setting on your Facebook or Twitter accounts, never post anything that you wouldn’t want in the public domain
There is a lot of competition out there so getting involved and trying new opportunities will really help get you noticed. Follow this advice, don’t get disheartened by rejection (we’ve all been there, trust me).
It may take some time but soon you will be on your way to that elusive dream job in communications and I wish you the best of luck.
Feel free to get in touch via my LinkedIn profile should you need further advice and if by any chance my advice helped, please do let me know.
Post written by Dana Poole, Senior Global Campaigns Manager, Unilever & VP Marcomms & Social Media, IABC UK
Building your career in Communications
This lively webinar offers an entertaining and practical approach to staying fresh and growing in your career as a communications leader.
- Building influence internally and recognizing the “wins” that keep your career moving in the right direction.
- Communicating externally when you are ready to make a move to a new company or industry.
- Being conscious (deliberate) about your career goals, whether they follow a specific ladder for growth, or a winding path of diverse opportunities.
View webinar – for members (free) View webinar – non-members ($100)
No part of the IABC conference educational sessions may be recorded, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to video or audio recording, photography, photocopy or any other information storage or retrieval system known now or in the future, without the express written permission of the International Association of Business Communicators.