But if you’re looking to find a role mid-career, you haven’t picked an easy field. You’ll find stiff competition from people who have been in the business for a long time.
So, how can you stand a fighting chance? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you good at writing?
You’ll need unparalleled skills in both written and verbal communication; sometimes, this can extend to design as well (it will certainly give you an edge). If you don’t consider yourself articulate, stop here and consider another career!
2. Are you good at explaining ideas?
Ever caught yourself saying something is too difficult to explain? Your readership can be time-strapped, so you’ll need to wrap a complex idea around something tangible and quickly understandable. No excuses!
3. Can you tell a story?
Storytelling has become a business buzzword in the last few years, but it’s no more important than in communications. Once you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention with a clear idea, you’ll need the stamina to take the audience through your thoughts!
4. Can you develop an argument?
Great communications professionals are constantly building on their subject knowledge. If you only know one side to an argument, you’re going into a story only half armed. Learn the art of enquiry, aim for balance, and back up your arguments with facts.
5. Do people turn to you during times of crisis?
Communications roles feature in public and private organisations, ranging from journalists digging for a scoop to governments fighting a leadership battle.
You will be expected to respond quickly in a crisis and ensure your organisation’s voice is heard amid the noise and competing outlets.
6. Can you get behind a brand?
Communications is a broad field, and every industry will need an effective communications team behind its brand strategy. So, before you start working for a company, you should ideally make sure that you believe in the message you’re sending out.
More than one route into communications exists
All of the above are essentials to getting ahead in communications. If you’re confident that you’ve nailed them, then two pathways are open to you.
Many of our candidates moved into communications after spending time in the business side of their chosen industry. If you have expertise in a hot topic, you’ll likely be in demand. Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is a prime example. Companies must communicate how they contribute to global sustainability targets, and there is a real need for subject matter experts to deliver the message. These SMEs tend to be drawn from technical business roles (fund managers, analysts, researchers).
Working for a strategic communications agency can expose you to various sectors and clients, which could give you time to work out where your interests lie. Or, you might find your skills better applied to communications more broadly—many people find the breadth of agency work very fulfilling!
We recommend going in-house when you know your specialist field. If you’d like to test the waters, we suggest targeting agencies first and highlighting your writing and presentation skills in your application.
We place communications specialists in City of London roles every month – visit our job board for sought-after roles in communications, and follow us on our social media channels to keep a step ahead of the competition!