Comms pros lack tools for career development: study

RIDGEFIELD, CT: The majority of communications professionals say they know which skills they need to succeed, but only about half say they know how to advance their abilities, according to a survey from North Star Communications Consulting.

RIDGEFIELD, CT: The majority of communications professionals say they know which skills they need to succeed, but only about half say they know how to advance their abilities, according to a survey from North Star Communications Consulting.

Seventy-six percent of respondents said their employers have identified the competencies they need in their jobs. Yet 56% said their companies have not discussed how to develop those skills and have not provided tools to assess their career development, the survey found. Both numbers were relatively flat compared with last year's study.

“Many employers haven't taken the next step to show or articulate to employees how to progress,” said Mark Dollins, president of North Star Communications Consulting. “Everyone wants to feel they have a place to grow in their career.”

However, employees should take equal responsibility for seeking career development tools, he added.

“Employees need to take as much ownership in their development [as their employers],” he said. “Employers need to set the bar and define what competencies they care most about, but employees need to take responsibility and have those discussions about how they can grow.”

Communications professionals say they most need education in social media, followed by crisis communications and media training, the study found.

“It's not surprising that social media is the most often mentioned, since it's a rapidly developing area,” Dollins said. “The need for more development in crisis comms and media training shows that some of the tried and true basics never go out of style, and those are still big areas for opportunity.”

The areas of needed development mentioned in the survey also reveal an increasing trend toward integrated skill sets, he added.

“The more evolved an organization, the less it is looking at skill strengths in silos,” said Dollins. “The need for generalists continues to emerge.”

North Star's second annual study on career development surveyed 221 communications professionals from agencies and corporations last month.

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