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November #AskFutureNet call: What are employers looking for in their IC recruits?

For last month's AskFutureNet call, we were joined by Mark Burrett and Sara Tehrani from VMAGROUP as we discussed the skills and attributes that employers are looking for in their internal communication recruits. 

We kicked off with Mark talking us through what he thinks are the top 3 skills that an internal communicator should have in their arsenal:

We hear a lot about the need for internal communicators to become more strategic and position themselves as trusted advisors but according to Mark, the most important skill of a junior internal comms professional remains that of writing. Despite good writing being at the core of best practice internal comms, Mark told us that, at VMAGROUP, they're seeing a bit of a skills gap in the market and he encouraged those on the call to really hone their writing skills by practising them wherever possible – through writing blogs regularly, reading up on grammar skills and always asking for constructive feedback on any piece of writing that you do.

Channels and digital
There's no getting away from the need to keep up with technology in an internal comms role, and Mark's second most important skill was the ability to use and manage digital platforms and channels to deliver content to your internal audiences. Keeping up to date with trends in technology is in one of the competencies within the IoIC's competency framework – both those which can be managed and monitored within the organisation as well as unregulated and user generated channels. In terms of developing these skills, Mark suggested looking out for case studies which demonstrate best practice, reading articles like the ones you'll find on Voice Online and going along to events where industry experts will be talking about how they leverage digital channels.

Finally, Mark talked to us about the importance of good planning skills, whether you're planning an event or a comms campaign. Like most things, all it takes is a little practice to perfect your planning, and for this, Mark suggested simply asking a colleague if you can shadow or help them on an upcoming event or project which they're working on in order to get a real sense of everything that goes in to the planning stage. The latest issue of Voice magazine has an entire feature on comms planning ('Road to Nowhere') so make sure you get stuck in when it lands on your desk!

We then heard from Sara Tehrani who talked to us about what she thinks are some of the most important attributes of an IC professional:

Being a team player
It's important, Sara told us, to build up your network both in and outside of your organisation. We sometimes think of networking as something which we do at events or conferences, involving meeting people who are completely new to us. But often, the most important networking you can do is with the people you share an office with. The better you get to know your colleagues and understand the work that they do, the better you get to know your organisation. And the better you understand your organisation, the better you'll be able to translate its business messages for your internal audiences.

Business acumen
Which bring us on to Sara's next attribute – business acumen. In order to be a successful internal communicator, it's becoming increasingly important to really understand how your organisation operates and how factors such as the industry and sector in which it operates will impact the ways in which you can and should communicate within it. Building up your business acumen will also prove very helpful when it comes to having important conversations with senior leaders – just like any of your internal audiences, you should be able to communicate with them in a language which they understand and engage with in order to get them on board. Reading your company's latest annual report is a great place to start, and if there's anything that you don't understand or want to know more about, make sure you ask and get your internal networking going!

Finally, Sara talked to us about the ability to be flexible and offer your support to any projects that you can – leading to both a bigger internal network and increased business acumen and understanding – what's not to love? 

Do you agree with Mark and Sara's suggestions of the most important skills and attributes of an IC professional? Are there any which you would place above them? Make sure you comment and let us know!

The next AskFutureNet call will take place on 20 February 2019.

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