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Whether you’re looking for your first role in Internal Communications or want to take the next step in your career, it’s always good to know who and what the market is looking for.

We spoke to Mark Burrett from VMA Group, a recent recruit in the role of Recruitment for Internal Comms. Here, he tells us about what has been the most impactful and challenging parts of his role and what counts the most at the start of your career as well as further down the line.

Tell us about what you do

I work for the Internal Communications recruitment team at VMA Group focusing on permanent roles at the senior end of the market. My passion for internal communications became apparent when working for Reward Gateway, a leading technology company in the employee engagement space. I was always in awe of the time, effort and investment that went into driving internal communications across their 7 offices in 5 countries, but what really struck me was the visibility of our leadership team through the various digital channels that we utilized, keeping us informed, motivated and inspired in achieving the companies mission of ‘making the world a happier place to work’. A little cliché I know, but god did we believe it.

What’s been the most enjoyable part of the role so far?
Since starting at VMA Group in the summer it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I went through a rapid yet thorough onboarding process with the objective of getting me up and running as quickly as possible, followed by getting out there and meeting potential candidates and clients. Without doubt the most interesting aspect of this role is the exposure that we get to some of the industry’s best communicators. Being able to speak with candidates who are taking their first tentative steps, through to those who have 20-30 years’ experience working across multiple geographies in some of the worlds’ largest, most complex organizations. It’s just been fascinating. I think another aspect that’s been most poignant is the receptive nature of both candidates and clients when making contact with them. Recruitment doesn’t have the best name and for me that’s down to a spray and pray culture combined with a lack of attentiveness to both the needs of clients and candidates. If I’m really honest, I was on the fence about taking this role, but have been blown away by the attention to detail that goes into the recruitment process here at VMA Group.
And how about the most challenging?
I think the biggest challenge comes with managing people throughout an often long recruitment process. I’ve always pitched a lifestyle benefit or piece of technology that doesn’t have doubts, doesn’t change its mind, doesn’t have to create working relationships with anyone but just has to work. So managing people is a whole different kettle of fish. Without doubt, this has been the biggest adaptation and challenge for me.
What’s most impressed you about the candidates that you’re working with?
You know straight away when you have a great candidate at your fingertips. Being able to comfortably hold a conversation for an hour with a relative stranger, those that have clearly invested time in their CV and thought about what their ideal next role looks like, and those that can clearly articulate their experience to date, where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and how they want to build on these to get to that next stage of their career. Another key indicator to an impressive candidate is the time and energy invested into their continuous professional development as it shows a clear commitment and passion for the industry which they work in.
What advice would you give to candidates who are looking to enter the world of IC or achieve that next step in their career?
Certainly at the beginning of your career your personality or cultural fit, education, and continuous professional development will count for a great deal. Employers want to see a willingness to learn, an understanding of the communications market and either a degree or a diploma in communications. These pre-requisites obviously vary from employer to employer. For those looking to start out, I would always advocate networking and getting your name out there. Find out about the latest events being run by the IoIC or the CIPR and immerse yourself in everything communications.
When it comes to taking the next step in your communications career, whilst breadth of experience will always play a key role, employers really want to know if you’re going to rock the boat (and not in a positive way) or whether you’re going to be a great addition to the team. Allowing your personality to shine through at the interview stages is crucial. Whether you’re being introduced to the team you might be working with or speaking about your various interests outside of the workplace, try your best to relax and be yourself. Another key area is being on top of industry trends. Whether an employer is ahead of the curve or looking to get up to speed, sharing your knowledge of the digital advances being made in the industry and how your work has impacted on previous employers can only be a positive thing. Go prepared with examples of your key achievements. 

To find out more about the ways in which the IoIC can help you with your professional development, click here. If you're starting to think about training for your team in 2017, you can read about the benefits of group membership here.
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