Working in communications: a guide (with interview tips)
Updated 3 March 2023
Communications is a broad field that encompasses many different careers. Careers in communication also have a variety of roles and responsibilities, and communications specialists can work in departments such as finance, market research and advertising. If you're considering working in communications, learning more about the industry can help you determine if it's right for you. In this article, we share some tips on how to enter the communications field and explain the types of jobs that exist within it.
What is working in communications?
Working in communications can encompass many roles, including marketing, public relations and journalism. No matter what your specific job title is, working in communications involves communicating with people to share information. This includes deciding what information to convey and the most suitable way to convey it. Communications professionals can share internal information within an organisation or work with consumers, stakeholders and other members of the public.
If you're a reporter, you communicate with sources and write stories informing the public about important issues. If you're a marketer, you communicate with customers and potential customers to help them choose which products are right for them. If you work in public relations, you communicate with journalists about new developments at your company or client's company that could impact their stories.
Tips on working in communications
Here's a list of tips to help you when starting a career in communications:
Develop your skills
To start your career in communications, develop some basic skills that enhance your ability to express your ideas in different formats. These can include persuasive writing, image editing or video content creation alongside understanding how to communicate effectively with customers. Different types of communication roles may prioritise different skills. For example, a press liaison may need writing skills to produce press releases, while a social media manager may require knowledge of features on social platforms. Once you establish a strong set of skills, focus on your interests so you can decide what type of communications career is right for you.
Think of your digital presence
Your digital presence, such as your social media profiles, may influence your career. This is especially true in communications where your social media platforms have many different uses. If you have a social media account, make sure it's free of any compromising content and delete anything offensive or inappropriate. If you don't know what to delete, ask a friend or family member for help. Remove any personal information that you don't want people to see (like your address or phone number) from social media platforms.
Learn how to use SEO
If you're interested in starting a career in communications, you may benefit from learning how to use SEO. SEO is short for search engine optimisation, and it's the process of making sure that your website is easily discoverable on search engines. Ensure your website has a good domain name, optimise your content for search engines with keywords and make sure that anyone who visits your site can find what they're looking for quickly. The more well-optimised your website is, the better chances it has of showing up on the first pages of search engines.
Follow your interests
If you're considering a career in communications, consider whether you can follow your interests to find your niche. The communications industry is a broad one and there are many different areas in which you could work. If you're interested in public speaking or writing, consider looking into careers as a public relations representative or journalist.
If you enjoy design and have an interest in graphic design, consider looking into more creative and artistic jobs. If you enjoy writing copy or creating graphics, look into working as a copywriter or graphic designer. In addition to following your interests, think about what types of jobs are available in each area of communication so that you can find one that fits your skill set and personality.
Think about potential clients or customers
One of the most useful things to keep in mind when starting a career in communications is to understand and focus on the needs of your client or customer. When you're writing content for your clients, make sure that you're using words that they would use and understand. Understand their goals and objectives so that you can create content that aligns with those goals and objectives.
Learn how to adapt to change
If you want to be successful in the communications field, learn how to adapt to change. The world of communications is constantly changing. For example, new social media platforms are constantly in development, as are technical devices that allow us to communicate with one another. Adjust your skills and knowledge regularly to ensure you can meet the industry's demands.
Create a personal brand
If you're looking to become a communications professional, your brand is one of the most important things to focus on. Your brand is the image you project in everything you do, whether it's through your website or social media accounts, by writing blog posts and articles or even just by speaking at industry events. Creating a website showcasing your portfolio is a great way to build that brand. You can also consider creating an online profile or other social media pages dedicated to highlighting your work and interests.
Make connections in the field
A good way to build a network in the communications field is to reach out to people and make connections. If you're looking for internships or volunteer opportunities, try contacting companies directly through their website or online profile. To start building your network, you could attend groups online or local meetups where you can connect with other professionals in the industry.
Tips for interviews for jobs in communication
Here are three tips to help you prepare for working in the communication field:
1. Have your communications portfolio ready
When you're interviewing for a communications job, have your portfolio ready. Your portfolio can include samples of your work (for example, any press releases you've written) and any other relevant information that helps you get the job. Talk about what you've done and how it relates to the position you're applying for. If you would like to expand your communications portfolio, include writing samples that target different audiences, informal or unpublished writing samples can showcase your skills and show the hiring manager you can adapt your communication skills to different audiences.
2. Discuss all of your transferable skills
When interviewing for a communications job, showcase all of your transferable skills. Transferable skills can come from any job including retail and hospitality. Make sure that your CV highlights all of these skills and how they may specifically help you in a communications role. For example, you may explain how working in customer service enables you to have strong active listening and problem-solving skills that you may apply to a communications role. You may also explain how an admin-based role enables you to focus on small details, which is beneficial for a communications role.
3. Communicate clearly
As a communications professional, excellent verbal and written communication skills are central to the role. This means using engaging and simple language with the ability to explain things in a clear way to your audience. The interviewer might ask you to write several times during the interview process. For example, they might ask you to write sample emails or letters that demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively. Your verbal communication skills may also be under assessment in the interview so ensure your verbal responses to questions are succinct.
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