Top tips for newbie comms people!
We've all been there in our comms careers when we're just starting out and we're feeling a bit overwhelmed struggling to figure out where to begin. Over the years I've given quite a bit of advice and shared some top tips with comms newbies on things they can do to give their CV a bit more of an edge. I thought it might be useful to share them via this blog - I hope they help in some way:
This is always a bit contentious as I know there are some organisations who can take the mick a little bit by abusing your skill and demanding a lot for no pay. But if your CV is looking a bit light in terms of real life experience then I highly recommend that you do some volunteering work to get you going. I’m not saying you need to give up lots of time for free but even if you do one day a month, that will help boost your CV.
There are plenty of different ways you could volunteer your time, I personally prefer helping out charities who are seeking some short-term help. The best website I’ve come across is https://mediatrust.org/ - they post regular job posts from various charities looking for support from people who have comms/media knowledge.
Join a professional body
I know there are some people who are completely against joining a professional body but it’s one of the best things I’ve done for my career (see video below about my CIPR membership)
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Whether it’s CIPR, PRCA, IABC, IOIC - or any other four letter acronym body ;-), just as long it works for you and your career path.
A professional body membership will also support you in your Continuing Professional Development (CPD), something you need to maintain if you want to keep growing as a professional. It's important you don’t look at it as an expense but more of an investment in you.
I’d definitely recommend you get your CV looked at by someone who works in the role you want to do or the business you want to join. They will be able to give you some top tips and guidance on the skills that are missing. It may be awkward at first in approaching someone but if you don’t ask you won’t get. Just make sure you’re polite with your request and don’t bombard them for help.
Think about your online brand
A few of my friends work in the recruitment field and they are always sharing stories at the rookie errors some people still make with their online platforms. So, make sure your profile on your platforms are up-to-date and your spelling/grammar are on point. Think about your profile photo, a photo of you downing shots at your mates party and looking like you couldn’t string a sentence together doesn’t give the best impression of you.
It's also worth double-checking your security settings on the profiles you prefer not to give public access to. You’d be surprised at the things that can be found by a quick google search. Even though most people are quite savvy these days I’m still surprised at some email addresses that I’ve come across, I would strongly suggest you change it to your name if you’re going to be sharing it with recruiters, having something like firstname.lastname@example.org, may raise a few laughs but it may hinder your chances in getting an interview.
Get yourself a blog
Blogging is a great way to share your knowledge and showcase a bit more about who you are plus it’ll also allow you to practice your writing skills. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking posting your first blog but once you’ve taken that leap the rest will be easy!
Get to as many networking events as you can – I can’t stress this enough. Each professional body tends to have them and you don’t always have to be a member to attend (NB: IoIC have recently launched FutureNet, a network dedicated to new and upcoming comms professionals).
However, if you can’t get to the events or find them a bit expensive then seek out social media comms conversations that take place regularly, it’s a great environment to raise your profile and showcase your knowledge, my favourite ones are:
#CommsChat on Monday 8pm
#PowerandInfluence Wednesday 8pm
#CommChat Wednesday 9am (Pacific Time)
#ICBookClub first Tuesday every other month at 8pm (3 July for the next one)
The fabulous Arianne Williams has done a comprehensive list here that you can check out for more online chats: http://arianneonline.com/2018/06/18/social-media-chats-pr/
Be the change you want to be
If you can't find an event to suit you then there is nothing stopping you in pulling together your own networking event. Drop a note to a few local people and see if they would like to connect over a coffee and chat comms. You'll be amazed on who can meet and the connections you can make.
Let me know if you have any more tips for any newbies who are starting out? Or maybe you’ve just started in your career, what are your top tips?