Communications and media careers transcend industry. Nearly every organization, whether for profit or nonprofit, needs media, communications, advertising, marketing, public relations or journalism professionals. Media professionals and communicators generate billions of dollars in earnings each year. The sector as a whole is expected to grow in some areas while declining in others.
As technology continues to impact our lives, media and communications have to adapt to keep pace. With that in mind, career opportunities in more traditional media, such as print, are expected to decline over the next several decades. At the same time, career opportunities working with emerging and nontraditional media are expected to explode in the future. As the field evolves, many professionals find themselves practicing their craft outside of the structure of an advertising agency or traditional news organization, and instead are working as freelancers.
The Vault Guides offer information about communications and media careers. Each guide gives, among other valuable information, an overview of the job and entry-level requirements. You’ll notice that some jobs may overlap with a variety of majors or industries.
Use these and our other job search tools to explore opportunities:
Professions to consider shadowing
Skills pay the bills in media and communications. Your ability to think strategically or produce incredible content plays a large role in your career success. At the same time, media and communications are people-focused industries. Soft skills such as communication and teamwork are equally important to long-term career success. Many media and communications professionals have these soft skills:
Practical skills are an essential part of positioning yourself as a highly-sought-after candidate. VCU has a partnership with LinkedIn Learning, formally Lynda.vcu.edu, to provide free skills training for VCU students. Consider taking some of these recommended courses as a part of your training.
The key to writing an effective resume is to demonstrate as efficiently as possible that you have all of the skills needed to fulfill the company’s need. Most hiring managers are trying to answer the following three questions while reviewing your documents:
Think of the resume and cover letter as your opportunity to answer these questions while showcasing your different skills and talents. Most media and communications organizations are looking for people with the following skills.
When it comes to choosing a format, some organizations may be more tolerant of design-heavy resumes that use color, graphics, or otherwise veer from the traditional one-page resume. It would seem logical that a creative job needs a creative resume. This is not accurate. Most hiring managers are interested in quality content than an over designed document. Keep it simple and save your creative chops for your portfolio.
Think like a recruiter
If you want to communicate well, think like a recruiter. A recruiter will spend roughly six seconds looking at your resume. During that six-second scan, they will search for the following:
Recruiter’s resume checklist
Quality content is more important than design
When it comes to choosing a format, some arts or media organizations may be more tolerant of design-heavy resumes that use color, graphics or otherwise veer from the traditional one-page resume. Keep in mind that regardless of the audience, the interest is in quality content over a highly-designed document. In fact, some may view overly-designed resumes as a tool for masking a lack of experience. Use work samples and your online portfolio to show your design skills so you can keep your resume content-focused.
Your cover is meant to achieve two goals:
Use your personality and tell your own story.
Every industry has its own language and norms. Media and communications are no different. A strong job candidate thoroughly reviews their targets’ websites, social media, learns about their client work, and reads their news releases to gain insight into future projects. In addition, a strong job candidate stays current on industry trends by reading online resources and more technical blogs to make sense of creativity and marketing news.
If you’ve never interviewed before, explore the interviewing page to learn the basics of a successful interview. Nearly all interviews contain two parts, common questions about your experience and situation-based questions to gauge your fit for the position. Afterward, you’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer. Interviews take practice. If you’ve never interviewed before, to learn the basics of a successful interview.
Common interview questions
You’ll feel more comfortable during your interview with a little practice first. InterviewStream is web-based video interface that allows you to respond to a series pre-recorded interview questions from your computer. Afterward, you will be able to review your recording to see how you did.
Have an interview coming up? Practice with one of our career advisors. Schedule a one-hour mock interview and we will show you how to answer likely interview questions and offer tips to help you make an excellent impression. Be sure to bring your resume and a copy of the job description with you to your interview.
A portfolio demonstrates you are skilled at putting together an effective communications package and demonstrates that you can create content and tell stories across multiple platforms and applications. Whether you have focused your education on broadcast journalism and media or advertising, your portfolio should show that you have multimedia production skills. Assemble examples of your best work from courses and internships and include evidence of your signature work in these key areas:
Clarify your professional aspirations and then build your digital portfolio with your targeted organizations or roles in mind. When you are researching your target organizations, take notes on their overall presence, website, social media, news coverage and audience demographics.
Once you have researched your target organizations, select your best work to showcase your abilities. If your work is not strong in a key area, consider bolstering your skills be taking a free course through LinkedIn Learning or The Workshop.
VCU students and alumni can use VCU ePortfolio and blog publishing portal at Ram Pages for free, which uses the WordPress platform. The platforms most popular among journalists include:
You'll stand out from the crowd of job seekers by highlighting professional-grade work. Give your work a reality check by getting feedback from working professionals and your professors. Hiring managers will look to see if your work shows emotional maturity, well-formed relevancy, and critical thinking.
Use these and our other job search tools to explore opportunities.