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School’s Never Out When You Work In Communications: Education, Training Key To Staying On Top

You can tell the job market is tough when candidates no longer send just a thank-you card for an interview. These days, they are also delivering flowers, movie passes, Timbits, hot coffee, and more. Taking a novel approach to getting noticed can work, but what really impresses a potential employer is how much education and training an individual is willing to undergo, to get ahead.

Let’s be frank: there are more communications people on the market than there are jobs to fill. Employers look for the “wow” factor when reviewing a resume. Apart from an undergraduate degree and a post-graduate certificate in public relations, recruiters are assessing what additional special training or education the candidate may have undertaken.

Wise job seekers take the time to learn more about their chosen area of focus, in order to demonstrate expertise in the field. Continuing education courses at colleges and universities cover every subject imaginable. If your preferred career path is food and beverage public relations, then you may wish to enroll in a wine appreciation or culinary arts course. Why not go the extra mile, and obtain a recognized certificate in your area of specialty? Many financial communications people have completed the Canadian Securities Course. Some public affairs professionals hold a Public Affairs Certificate. There are courses and certificates that can be completed in a short time and on a compressed schedule; other options include online or distance learning. Conferences and seminars are another good way to learn about the latest developments in a particular field; they are also solid networking opportunities.

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) have local chapters that offer courses and seminars to upgrade and enhance specific communications skills.

I believe that, “You can teach an old dog new tricks.” Even seasoned public relations professionals should brush up on their skills, particularly in the areas of social media and integrated marketing communications, where some of the old guard still fears to tread.

Staying up to date and relevant as a communications professional requires a lifelong willingness to “hit the books” when necessary to improve your game. There’s no time like the present to sign up for the upcoming term.

Sandra Upeslacis is the Manager of Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, Canada’s largest public relations firm with 300 employees in nine offices across Canada, in London and New York. NATIONAL has experience in assisting clients with the recruitment of communications professionals, in review and configuration of communications departments, and in training new and existing staff. Email, [email protected]