Marketing and Communications jobs are coming back in a big way, according to a 2021 survey by the corporate recruiting firm Capstone Hill Search. And that’s good news for those looking to get into those fields.
There is a caveat, however: More people will be out there looking, too, and that means job seekers need to be more focused than ever when conducting their searches.
“You have to find out what your differentiator is—and you need to speak that strongly,” said Kerry O’Grady, Faculty Director for the Master’s in Public Relations & Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University. “What can you do better in the communications space than anyone else? What value do you bring to an organization?”
As the nation emerges from the pandemic, businesses are expected to increase staffing, especially in areas like marketing and communications. The survey found that 46 percent of organizations plan to boost communications hiring by 10 to 20 percent over the next 12 months, and another 17 percent anticipate increases of 20 to 40 percent.
How can you maximize your chances of being one of those new hires? Here, O’Grady and Annie Rao, Director of Georgetown’s Graduate Career Center, offer their tips:
1. Know Yourself and What You Want in a Job
This might sound obvious, but this should be your first step. It’s important to get to know yourself better: your strengths and weaknesses, your motivations, and what you want in a job. What type of business attracts you? What role would you like to play? Is where you live important? What about salary requirements? “These are things that people eventually think about, but they don’t always do it in the right order,” Rao said. “And then, regrettably, they end up making decisions not based on what they want, but on what’s been given to them.”
2. Perfect Your Writing and Researching Skills
These skills are absolutely essential in communications. “You have to understand how to create data-driven decisions for your client” and communicate this information in a clear and compelling way, O’Grady said. In addition, you should always be expanding your knowledge of things like culture, politics, technology, and the arts.
3. Become a ‘Non-templated’ Thinker
High school, college, even graduate school provide you with a template for learning. The business world does not. This means you have to be what O’Grady calls a “non-templated thinker” and take a big step out of your comfort zone. Unlike school, “you’re not going to get graded for your work,” O’Grady said. “You’ll have to be a flexible and adaptable thinker and be able to take on any challenge.”
4. Burnish Your Job Search Documents
Don’t just put your resume out there and hope employers “will figure you out,” Rao said. “There’s just too much competition. You have to be able to define who you are before you actually apply to any jobs, and your resume has to show the specific skills the hiring person is looking for.” Same for your cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and social media posts.
5. Network In-Person and Virtually
Networking is important—at any point in your career. “Even if you’re young and just starting out and you don’t have a lot of professional contacts, you have to dedicate some time to trying to get to know people in the field,” Rao said. “Networking doesn’t have to be this sort of painful, icky process where you’re out there trying to figure out who can help you. It’s really about just figuring out who works in the field. Be genuinely curious and show you want to talk to them.”
6. Practice Your Interviewing Skills
Have you landed an interview? Think beforehand about what questions you might be asked, and then practice your answers, not just in the mirror but also with someone you trust to give honest feedback. “If you’re not good at interviewing, it’s going to show,” Rao said.
7. Differentiate Yourself—Even if You’re Just Starting Out
What O’Grady said about differentiating yourself applies throughout your career. But how do you show you’re the right person for a position when, say, you’re just out of school? The short answer is: Companies know this. “They know that you’re not bringing deep knowledge and deep skills,” Rao said. What they’re looking for from you is character, initiative, enthusiasm, and a record of achievement in whatever goals you’ve been pursuing.