What will make you stand out from the IC crowd?

What are employers looking for from Internal Communications (IC) professionals? This is a question that gets asked time and again with differing answers. Expectations are high but what will really make you stand out from the crowd and make your CV sparkle above the others in the pile?

I invited David Broome, who heads up the Internal Communications Practice at VMA Group to share his top tips with you to get a glimpse into how tough the market is and what recruiters are looking for. If you have comments or thoughts about his post, feel free to submit them below or contact him at dbroome@vmagroup.com. Over to you David…

It’s a tough recruitment marketplace out there, and more than ever candidates are having to do everything they can to differentiate themselves from the competition. So, as the largest IC recruitment team in the UK, what are our top tips for securing the best role you can? I’ve highlighted eight areas below.

Back to basics: we’re seeing an increased use of writing tests as part of the recruitment process, even at the most senior levels. Writing skills are still the building blocks of internal communications and need to be exceptional to get the best roles.

Network: clients use many routes to find the best talent. Communicators love to communicate with each other and make sure you’re plugged in to this – industry events, former colleagues and forums such as Linked-in are the most effective channels.

Flexibility: most of us have a ‘dream job’ in our minds, but in this marketplace people are having to be more flexible – whether that’s on location, sector or salary. Contract roles can also be a great way to boost experience on your CV and try out different sectors.

Social Media: we are seeing an increase in niche online / digital positions – and for any role, these skills are a strong extra string to your bow. Social media should also form a strong part of your job search process.

Gravitas: it’s a term that’s used too often, but it’s what we asked to look for more than anything. You need to have presence in your interview, demonstrate that you can influence at a senior level, and be personable and energetic.

Business Acumen: whilst IC skills will get you a long way, you also need to understand broader ‘business’, be able to demonstrate how IC can add value, and be able to ‘talk the talk’ alongside senior leaders. Make sure you’re up to speed with business press as well as industry news.

CV and interview skills: adapt your CV for every role that you apply for – and CVs will be used as a measure of your writing skills, so accuracy is key. When preparing for interviews research the company background, understand the format of competency based questioning, and contact anyone who has worked at that organisation who can give you an inside track.

Change communications: even at the most junior levels, you need to be able to demonstrate experience of working on change communications. It’s now part and parcel of most IC roles and you’ll struggle to move upwards if you can’t demonstrate strategic change experience.

Thanks very much David. What do you think? Are there any other areas you think should be added to this list? What are your top tips for demonstrating gravitas? I’d love to hear from you, do get in touch, Rachel.


  1. Karl Roche says:

    Nice advice. The Communications Executive Council also have some great pointer for those in and looking for their next role, on how the role of communicators has changed over the last 10-20 years. http://cecinsider.exbdblogs.com/2011/02/03/the-modern-communicators-skill-set/ .

    Have to say I’ve been hopeless at interviews, never got a job by going to one. Always through the work that I had produced and what people saw – which kind of leads me to attitude. More than anything I hear managers talking about people having the right attitude to get the work done. Partly this is the way we look at ourselves and what we are getting from doing even the most menial tasks. Someone said to me once, “It’s all learning, just depends if you want to learn.”

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Karl and for that link, will take a look. I think there’s a lot of truth around having the right attitude – both in having and being seen to have it. Wise words, thank you.

  3. Jon Weedon says:

    Thanks Rachel/David, that’s a great list. What makes it all the more credible is the lack of any mention of academic qualifications, in particular a degree. A first class Marcoms degree counts for nothing if you can’t write beautifully and present yourself well at interview.

    I agree with Karl too. Attitude is very important. A passion to work for the company and desire to work hard is critical.

    I also think the ability to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of organisational politics is very important.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Suzanne Peck says:

    Really interesting stuff. We’ve been interviewing people for internal jobs recently and those that really stood out demonstrated that ‘passion’ that Jon talks about. Not a fawning, ‘i wear the t-shirt’ type of passion, but a clear focus and desite to do a great job.

  5. Rachel says:

    Thank you for your comment Suzanne and good luck with the interviewing.

  6. Sarah says:

    I think this is a great list of tips. I’m currently researching how the increased use of social media ‘tools’ by internal comms professionals is changing the role of the practitioner in an organisation. I’ve heard many debates about how the use of such tools could mark the ‘end’ for the IC professional, but, as this list suggests, the other side of the argument could be that there is a growing demand for such niche roles. I think it is important to be able to demonstrate skills in both ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ digital media – and of course demonstrating that you have strong writing skills is still critical for both.

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