Get the Experience to Land the Job: Communications Professional

Typewriter, glasses, coffee, and flowers

In last week’s edition of “Get the Experience to Land the Job” we shared some creative ideas for building your data analysis toolkit. Now, in part five of our series, let’s take a look at how to build some of the experience you’ll need to become a communications professional.

Don’t forget, I don’t recommend you spin any of the following as professional experience on your resume. Here are ways that I would suggest featuring this somewhat-informal experience to catch the eye of a future employer:

  • Make space to include a Relevant Coursework section on your resume.
  • Creating a digital portfolio is the perfect way to highlight your newly acquired communication chops.

Take a course, of course!

If you’ve been following this series, you’re used to finding intel on where to take always-amazing and occasionally-free online courses to get your skills up to snuff. As a budding communications professional, there are two key skills that you’ll want to start with (and plenty of others to work on once you’re up and running):

  • Storytelling

    Being a communications professional isn’t just about writing. It’s about mapping an engaging and effective story arc, and the ability to deliver your message to a variety of audiences and stakeholders. Presentation is just as important as written communication, so be sure that you start practicing communicating across a variety of platforms, in person and on paper. Explore options, both online and in person, for free improv and storytelling workshops.

  • Grammar

    Don’t get caught with bad grammar! There’s nothing worse for a hiring manager than reviewing applications for a communications professional position and stumbling across typos and bad grammar. While grammar is always important, if you’re interested in this particular line of work, consider it your life’s goal to nail your hyphens, em dashes, clauses, and the like. Khan Academy is a great way to brush up on your grammar skills, and it’s free! Take advantage of the wide variety of options and areas of focus offered.

    Another idea is to explore what’s out there in the way of free online grammar tests. While you don’t want to slap a bunch of unrecognizable exam names and proficiencies all over your resume, if you do well on a skills test on a site like UpWork, for example, find a home for your high marks in your digital portfolio!

Launch that digital portfolio or professional website

A digital portfolio can serve several purposes. Sure, it’s a great way to highlight your professional and academic background and offer prospective employers an easy, non-social-media based place to explore your style and credentials. But another benefit of a digital portfolio is that it’s a place to put your copywriting skills to work!

While you may opt for a plain old digital portfolio with a page or two encompassing your resume and some examples of your work, you’re a writer! This is a moment to actually create copy for a real website. As you create the copy for your site, however, be proactive about testing to ensure that your content is on point and well-received. Survey friends, family, and visitors to the site by asking them to share feedback on whether they find the copy clear, intuitive, and relevant.

Start a blog

While you’re at it, add a blog to your personal website or portfolio. This is a great platform to for regular content development and storytelling. Plus, as you acquire fans and followers, you can play with email automation, thank-you screens, and email confirmations to really flex your copywriting muscle.

A little intimidated at the idea of putting yourself on the hook for regular content creation? Avoid writer’s block with these writing prompt resources:

If you’re not quite ready to start your own blog, try posting on sites like Medium, or look for blogs that accept guest posts (ahem, Idealist Careers!).

Have you experimented with any non-traditional paths to employment as a communications professional? Share your story and your advice in the comments.

Is there a field that you’re trying to break into? Share it here and we’ll do our best to hunt down some tips and resources to help you get there!

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As a seasoned communications professional with 15 years of nonprofit experience and 6 years of experience creating engaging content and copy, I love the idea that a thoughtfully crafted piece of content can spark social change. Here at Idealist Careers, I'm eager to offer job seekers, game changers, and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources, and "social-impact lifestyle" advice.
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    • Brigitte Quick
    • June 19, 2017

    Hi my name is Brigitte and I’m currently interested in the technology field, I am taking a HTML5 class and am wondering if my age ( 50 something) is a problem in this field?

    • Alexis Perrotta
    • June 19, 2017

    Thanks for your comment, Brigitte, and good for you for taking the initiative to join a class! Regardless of age, plenty of folks don’t take the leap to commit to a course. While ageism can be, unfortunately, a reality across fields and sectors, there is plenty you can do to stay competitive as a 50+ career switcher. Check out this post: and let us know if you have other questions or comments!

  2. Pingback: How to Channel Your Passion for Social Impact Into Your Career - Idealist Careers

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