Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion for IABC Canberra with Justine O’Brien from the Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering and Jaimee Thorpe from Hays Recruitment. We talked to communications professionals about what was happening in the local jobs market, our career transition points, and the challenges we faced along the way.
We had a great discussion about how to prepare yourself for your next career step. I loved the advice from my fellow panellists, so I wanted to share my summary with those that couldn’t make it.
How to get ready to move?
If you are thinking about changing roles or a complete career change, there are a few things to consider:
• Plan. Don’t leap! The grass isn’t always greener. Take-the time to think about what you want to do next, what you are passionate about and what you are looking for in a new team
• Get ready now. Update your CV, get your portfolio or work examples ready, update your LinkedIn profile. You never know when the perfect job will come along – be ready!
• Build your network. Reach out to your networks (or start building them if you don’t have them). Talk to recruitment companies like Hays to see what’s available or describe your perfect role so they can contact you when it comes up. If consulting has taught me anything, it’s that in Canberra, it’s all about who you know.
• Start upskilling. Especially if you are planning on going out on your own, start doing professional development now. Read, watch, Learn. Identify those skills you will need for the next stage of your career or your ideal role and start working towards it now.
When to know it’s the ‘right’ time?
The panel all agreed the ‘right’ time to move it’s when you stop learning. If you are a bit stuck in your ways or you aren’t being challenged, it’s time to go. Don’t get comfortable. In communications, it makes you complacent and eventually, you will lose your creative spark. For me, it was when I knew I was just going through the motions, and I realised the team and organisation needed a fresh perspective.
The team at Hays is flat out at the moment, with lots of movement in the market. There are more jobs than skilled people. If you are starting to feel this way, now might be the time to get out and see what is out there.
How do you know if your skill are transferable?
This was my biggest fear when leaving my job of seven years. Will I know how to do communications somewhere else? Will I be able to do it as well without the corporate knowledge I have built? I quickly learnt it was my confidence, not my skills, that I needed to build. My knowledge of communications and experience was transferable to my new clients across the commonwealth and private sector. I just needed to back myself.
Jaimee also talked about the market dynamics shifting to focus on more generalist skills, especially on smaller teams. If you can do a little bit of everything and you willing to ‘get your hands dirty’, you will be in a good position. Larger departments and companies are still looking for specialist skills, but you need to back yourself and demonstrate that you are amazing in that space.
If you are starting to think about making a move, then get out there and talk to people. Come to the next mid-week mingle and expand your network. Talk to recruitment agents. Have a coffee with ex-colleagues to find out about different departments. The right role won’t necessarily drop into your lap, you may have to put the hard yards in to find it. Good luck!