HR career issues: joint HR/communications roles

Q A company I’ve long been keen to work for has just advertised a joint HR and communications director role. I don’t have communications experience per se – what HR experience could I apply to this part of the role?

The HR expert’s view

As an experienced HR professional, you should have a lot of transferable skills that could be applied to a communications role. Internal HR communications processes are equally applied to external communications, such as building relationships with people (both staff and customers), organising focus groups and forums and getting feedback (think of your staff surveys), delivering key messages in line with your brand values and monitoring and analysing feedback data and customer/staff behaviour.

Managing the reputation and image of a company is likely to be key to this role, and where better placed would you be than having the experience of linking internal people communications with your overall company strategy and your experience of being a strategic partner? In a lot of organisations, HR is already involved in company intranets and corporate social responsibility (CSR) – there’s no reason you shouldn’t apply these skills on a broader basis.

HR people are generally great at building effective partnerships, at resolving conflict when things go wrong, and limiting any reputational damage in the process – this would no doubt also form part of the role requirements and help you put forward a compelling business case for winning this joint role.

Esther O’Halloran, HR director, Paul UK

The recruitment expert’s view

Aside from the fact that HR and communications are arguably two of the most people-focused functions within any business where the requirement to be able to communicate effectively is paramount, there are a couple of other key disciplines that are common to both functions, with huge areas of overlap.

First, near the top of any successful HR professional’s skillset or experience these days should be effective communication with the employee population and, of course, employer branding. With talent attraction and retention so high up the corporate agenda these days, the ability and necessity to communicate an effective and attractive employer brand to existing and potential employees is crucial. And this is impossible without huge co-operation and communication between HR and corporate communications/marketing.

The second significant area of mutual interest to both HR and communications is that of CSR. When it comes to this subject, HR and corporate communications should be intrinsically linked. In fact, as the saying goes, ‘CSR without HR is just PR’.

Look at what you and your organisation have done in both of the above key areas and use it to emphasis your experience and the synergies between the HR and communications disciplines.

John Maxted, chief executive, Digby Morgan

Comments are closed.