Head of internal comms at the Office for Nuclear Regulation.
Starting salary/salary band for the job?
Just over £50,000.
What qualifications do you need?
Most job ads will ask for a degree-level qualification, but you don't really need specialist qualifications if you've already got a lot of experience in the discipline - although it always helps you stand out, not to mention building your capability. I'd also recommend discipline-focused CIPR or IoIC certificates or diplomas (you can even go up to Masters level), and you can never go wrong by taking part in one-off courses run by renowned internal comms experts like Rachel Miller at AllThingsIC (my hero!)
What level of experience do you need?
You need to have worked at a strategic level, ideally in an advisory role to senior leaders. Get out there into the organisation and get as much exposure as possible. You also need to demonstrate your leadership skills – this is an absolute must. I've only just stepped up to this role, and actually I've progressed relatively quickly within the Civil Service once I came to comms by doing just that. But I've always made sure I took all the chances I was given (and if not given, asked for them) to step outside my comfort zone to help gain that experience.
Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
Not really. It's useful to have an understanding of how the public sector works and be knowledgeable about the wider government agenda, but a lot of people come in at this level from the private and third sectors too. And having that perspective can be very beneficial.
What are the main day-to-day challenges?
One of the most difficult things about my job is telling people who are eager to share information that their message isn't compelling enough to communicate. They mostly have good intentions, but they're still stuck in the SOS - sending out stuff – habit. It's my job to question and challenge. There is also the perpetual work-life balance contest when you're part-time (I work 30 hours a week) in trying to manage a demanding job and family life. I'm very appreciative to work for an organisation that is inclusive in this and so many other respects.
What is the best part of the job?
Seeing how the strategic advice I give resonates with people and the impact that has on the organisation as a result. Sometimes this happens way down the line, or it's almost invisible, but it's one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
I'm not from a scientific background, and never thought I'd be able to understand the technical speak (and there's a lot I still don’t understand!), especially in a complex area such as nuclear. So for me, it's rather unusual to know a small modular from an advanced modular reactor – don't test me too hard, though…
If you get an interview, do say…
That you're passionate about the discipline – whether you're a pro or you come from a multidisciplinary comms background. At this level, employers are looking for a blend of specialist expertise, leadership, and strategic mindset. But even if internal comms isn't the sole focus of your work right now, if you can demonstrate enthusiasm and in-depth understanding of the discipline (through CPD, research, networking for example), you’re halfway there.
If you get an interview, don't say…
You love internal comms because it's the softer comms discipline – mood-hoover! And don’t be tempted to talk too much about tactics and delivery. While some of the job still involves rolling up your sleeves – and that's important – pitch it at the right level and focus on strategy, advice and influencing instead.
If you're good at this job you might also be well-suited to…
In terms of promotion you're looking at more senior leadership, but it can also work sideways to other communications disciplines across sectors. In the Civil Service, colleagues of mine have moved into career paths such as policy and even chief of staff roles.
Please note: Interviewees for 'So, you want my job' are not leaving their current role
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