Communications Manager, Stevenage Borough Council
Starting salary/salary band for the job?
What qualifications do you need?
At least A Level English, supported with a professional public relations or communications qualification – a relevant degree or something like the CIPR diploma – for the understanding it provides. And a smattering of GCSEs in, say, creative thinking, photography, public speaking, event management, diplomacy, invisibility and reading upside-down.
What level of experience do you need?
Enough to give you the confidence to advise people at the most senior level without losing sight of what’s going on around you and what everyone else is doing. And enough to have given you some significant success, as well as a few lessons learnt the hard way.
Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
In some ways, I think my lack of previous public sector experience has been more useful because I brought a different perspective to things. What is more useful is a broad knowledge and awareness of the sector and its unique challenges, and a big, fat book of contacts. Networking and being able to talk to other people in similar positions is invaluable.
What are the main day-to-day challenges?
It’s relentless. There is always something else to be thinking about, and myriad demands on your time. It’s easy for people to knock the council and some of the criticism I see – particularly on social media – is unwarranted and unfair: so we’re constantly challenging people’s perceptions.
What is the best part of the job?
It’s relentless! There are lots of best parts: successfully solving a problem, seeing an idea become a reality, watching people enjoying an event or activity that we’ve put on, getting a great bit of media coverage or recognition for colleagues who really deserve it… I love the fact that I’m constantly learning and developing, and people continue to surprise me.
What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
I know more about dog poo and bird poo than the average person but I’ll leave it there in case you’re reading this over lunch.
If you get an interview, do say?
"I know my stuff, I’ve got good ideas, I believe I can make a real contribution to the council, and here are some examples of my previous work."
If you get an interview, don’t say?
"The ad sounded interesting and I’m good at most things so I thought I’d give it a shot."
If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Good communications is arguably the most important element of most jobs – leadership roles especially – so the world could be your oyster!
Please note: Interviewees for 'So, you want my job' are not leaving their current role