Looking for Talent in the LinkedIn Era

As part of our #insidestory awards programme we’ve been in touch with the sponsors to get some industry insights from them to share with the CIPR Inside community. So when it came to VMA it made sense to get the low down on the internal comms careers market.

Andrew Harvey joined VMA Group in 2013 as head of the recruitment firm’s internal communications practice. With a background in internal comms and customer marketing, Harvey spent eight years with another recruitment firm before taking up this new position at a time when VMA is expanding its global business with offices in the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and continental Europe.

SC: What’s happening in the internal comms market?

AH: The key trend we are seeing at the moment is a move away from tactical delivery towards a business partnering approach.  As internal comms matures as a specialism there is an increasing awareness of the strategic role it can play.  There is lots of evidence out there of best practice and how internal comms can really support business strategy; whereas when I started eight years ago, it was all about ‘churning out’ comms through publications, events etc.  These days, while strong writing ability and communications skills are a given, companies are looking for true business partners – a job title than didn’t really exist outside of the HR arena a few years ago.   The focus is on understanding the business, building internal relationships, leading strategic conversations and then liaising with the comms channels teams for the tactical delivery of the work.  The business partner model is about proactively providing strategic comms support and advice, with a focus on what the internal comms function can do for the business.

SC: How about more senior roles?

AH: Another example of a brand new role which organisations are starting to develop is Leadership Communication. Leadership communicators might be asked to develop a communication plan for the senior leadership team or to support a particular individual with their communications strategy and messaging.

SC: What is the impact of social media on our profession?

AH: I often meet people who are concerned about their lack of social media experience and think it will hold them back in the job market.  My view is that it doesn’t really matter, as long as you have an opinion on whether social media would work for your business. Even if you are not working with digital tools at the moment, you should be aware of them and, if you have commercial awareness, you will be able to say where social media fits into the bigger corporate picture. 

SC: What would be your advice to an internal communicator who is currently looking for a job?

AH: There has never been a better time to network, whether at internal comms events or via social media.  But while pretty much everyone uses LinkedIn these days, how many actually make contact with others to meet up in the ‘real world’?  If you see something of interest and then drop that person a line, more often than not, that person will be happy to meet you for a coffee and you’ve expanded your network.

SC: You mentioned LinkedIn… do we still need recruitment firms in the era of social networking?

AH: If a company advertises on LinkedIn for a Head of Corporate Comms, chances are they will be inundated with responses.  But if you come to a specialist recruiter like VMA Group, you get the benefit of the collective experience of our team, plus the huge network of comms specialists that we already have at our fingertips.  We would also target people who aren’t proactively looking for a role, and so are not checking LinkedIn every day.  So the quality of candidates and the choice you get from using a specialist recruitment agency can never be matched by simply posting an ad online.


This article, by Silvia Cambie was first published by http://www.simply-communicate.com

@simplycomm and reproduced with their kind permission

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