Categorized | Job Hunting

E-Communications Competence

Posted on 30 November 2008

As technology continues to develop, the ways in which we communicate have drastically changed. Appropriately, the people behind the communications industry have also changed. Far more is now demanded of marketing and design professionals as they compete for roles in today’s leading communications firms. Technology is being used as a tool to better shape messages, as a vehicle for more effectively delivering a message, and as a means to work smarter. Marketing communications, public relations, advertising, and e-commerce integration firms have made emerging technology competence a prerequisite.

Audience Expectations
The explosion of the Web and new media has redefined and created a whole new set of user expectations. Never before have audiences taken in so much information so fast. Quicker, tighter, shorter. If users can’t find the information they need in a matter of seconds, they’ll tune out or click away.

Similarly, if you cannot show a potential employer that you understand this shift in expectations, they too will move on to the next job candidate. If you are a designer, you must design an interface that is intuitive. If you are a writer, you must be concise. If you are an information architect, you must put the information that users want at their fingertips.

It saves the company time and money to invest in more important issues, like “being creative.”

Knowledge of the Tools
Show your value to potential employers by demonstrating an understanding of the tools you will be using to communicate. Be familiar with basic HTML, understand how Dreamweaver structures Web pages, know how sound tracks are synched in Flash. Unless you are a developer, no employer is going to expect you to use or have in-depth knowledge of every piece of software but they will expect you to know the limitations of each of these technologies and programs.

Knowing Strengths and Weaknesses
Communications firms will always demand a working knowledge of your tools, but more importantly, they will need you to know the strengths and weaknesses of each of these tools and technologies in delivering your message to a specific audience. Demonstrate to a potential employer that you know when a Flash intro to a site is and isn’t appropriate. Know how much copy you can expect someone to read on a banner ad versus an email newsletter. Go into an interview touting any tool or program as the end-all-and-be-all of communications, and you probably won’t be invited back.

Using Technology as More than a Vehicle
Your use and understanding of technology should not just stop with your craft to be truly valuable to a potential employer, you need to demonstrate how you use technology to work smarter. Today’s communications firms are always looking for better, faster, more efficient ways to work. Know how project management tools–including such innovations as client extranets–can be both an inexpensive and convenient way to share information with clients. It saves the company time and money to invest in more important issues, like “being creative.”

Respect for Proven Communications Principles
Technology is important, but the most valuable asset an employee can offer is the ability to communicate verbally and in-person. Face-to-face communication skills are a necessity for any communication industry professional. The Internet has made it easier to connect with people, but has not replaced the importance of meeting with people in person. The competition for spots in today’s communications firms is tough. Not only do employers require the same set of skills they sought five years ago, they also want an entirely new set of skills that are technology-based.

To succeed in this industry, you must demonstrate a knowledge and respect for technology and understand both how it has and, just as importantly, has not changed the ways we communicate.

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