Careers in Communications with Angee Linsey

Summary

Angee Linsey was on the show this week to chat about the effect COVID-19 is having on the careers of communication professionals. Though the future is uncertain, Angee highlighted the prospect of more opportunities for those communicators who are measuring and demonstrating their impact during these troubled times.

Resources

Her book Dare to Be Deliberate
The Dare to Be Deliberate Podcast
Career Action Plan
Linsey Careers Recruitment and Coaching
Values / Vision Exercise

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Adam:

I’m Adam Briefer. And you’re watching the Bananatag Morning Show. It’s the show with the best countdown music in the game.

Kyla:

It’s true. But, depending on where you’re tuning in from, it may not be your morning. It may be your lunch, it may be your happy hour. But regardless, you’ll find us here every Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern. And we’ll be here talking to communicators from around the world about what it’s like communicating during COVID-19, how to leverage what’s happening right now for your career and get some tips and tricks as well.

Adam:

Absolutely. Now, we see you in the comments tuned in. Hi, Kristen. Hi, everyone who is with us today. So say hi, tell us where you’re tuning in from, ask questions throughout the show. We have an amazing guest. And meanwhile, you may have noticed that guest, Angee Lindsey is with us today. Angee Lindsey is a recruiter and career coach. She’s also the President of Lindsey Careers, which is all about how to hire, get hired and manage your career with intention. So she’s going to be an awesome guest. She’s also the host of the Dare to Be Deliberate podcast, which are five minute episodes with tips for how you can be more intentional in your career. Today, she joins us from our home in Seattle, Washington. Please welcome, Angee Lindsey.

Angee:

Hey, everybody.

Adam:

Hello.

Kyla:

Awesome. Well, it’s so great to have you, Angee. It’s good to see you again. You were actually one of our first Comms Lab speakers, so it’s so nice to be able to do this. Something like this with you again, I know that everybody’s going to love it. You’ve got lots of good stuff to say, but before we get into that, what do you got in your cup?

Angee:

Well, I have a daily split shot latte from my favorite coffee shop that’s right behind my house called, Firehouse Coffee. Little plug for them if you’re in Seattle.

Kyla:

Nice. I love it. That’s great. So today we’re going to be chatting about how organizations are shifting from crisis to transformation and what that looks like for internal communicators and how to situate yourself in the midst of this crisis for your career, which I think a lot of communicators are thinking about right now. But before we get into that, the serious business, let’s get to know you just a little bit better.

Adam:

That’s right, Angee. You know what’s coming. It’s the segment that we like to call, Getting to know you. You’ve got 30 seconds on the clock. We get to ask you anything that we want and you just have to sit back and answer the first thing that comes to mind. Sound good?

Angee:

Okay. This is the part that has me nervous.

Adam:

You’ll do perfect.

Kyla:

You’ll do great.

Adam:

I love it. All right, Angee. First question. What was your first professional job?

Angee:

Professional job? I worked at the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan as a communications professional. Unless you want to count the Army as a professional job. I joined the Army right high school.

Kyla:

I did not know that.

Angee:

Oh, yeah.

Kyla:

That’s great. What’s your middle name?

Angee:

Lee.

Adam:

Does Seattle really rain as much as they say?

Angee:

No, it’s all a myth to keep people out.

Kyla:

If you could travel anywhere right now to go on a vacation, where would you go?

Angee:

Portugal.

Adam:

Should I eat the pie that’s in my fridge for breakfast, yes or no?

Angee:

Absolutely.

Kyla:

And what’s the best career advice that you’ve ever received?

Angee:

Oh, goodness. The answer is always no, if you don’t ask the question.

Kyla:

Spicy. I like it.

Adam:

Good answer. Now, since we’re talking about careers today, we might have to circle back to one of those first answers, the Army, in a little bit. But to get us started, Angee, so glad to talk to you today. The topic of careers is one that we haven’t necessarily been able to dive into too much lately. So it’s a real treat. So let’s ask your first question. You’re a recruiter, you’re a career coach, you help people be intentional with your careers. But, what does that mean?

Angee:

Well, I believe that we tend to think about our careers at one of two times. When we’re miserable or when we need a job. We’re out of a job and we need a job. And I really believe that we should be thinking about our careers all the time. Not obsessively, but there are things that you can do. Just little tiny things that just help you move through your career in the direction that you want to go more smoothly. You bring on champions that will help you get where you go, where you want to go. And I think that learning how to do those things early in your career will elevate you throughout your career. That’s what I mean by it.

Kyla:

We have some people in the chat here. We’ve got someone thanking you for your military service. Of course, thank you. And then we’ve got Gabriel saying, “It does rain that much.” He’s contradicting what you’ve said. I don’t know.

Angee:

What just did that so that he wouldn’t come back. Right?

Kyla:

Yes, of course.

Adam:

Gabriel. So what’s one step that someone can take now if they want to be more intentional in their career?

Angee:

Well, there’s lots of things you can do. But I think the one thing that is one of the most important things is really nurturing your network. And so I say for everybody, figure out a little, create a little habit. Like every morning, jump on LinkedIn. And don’t just like what other people say, actually send a private note. Just make a commitment to send a private note to at least a couple of people every day. That is just a genuine, authentic, congratulations or, “Just wanted to say hello. I saw your post. And it made me think of you.” Just acknowledge other people’s presence. And then once a week, try and just reach out and have a catch up call with somebody just to kind of strengthen that relationship. And once a month, once we are able to start going out for lunch or coffee again, go have coffee or lunch with someone in your network who’s not your coworker that you sit next to and have lunch with all the time.

Adam:

Kyla, [crosstalk 00:00:11:23]. Go on.

Kyla:

I’m sorry. Go ahead, Adam.

Adam:

I was just going to say, Kyla knows that I like listening to audio books that are narrated and pretending that I read. One of the ones I’ve been listening to is Michelle Obama’s, Becoming. And she talks about wanting to get out of her corporate law job and into something that felt more meaningful for her. But not knowing what that was. And so she spent months and months just talking to anybody she could in any kind of area to learn what would resonate. So it’s interesting. I think that’s kind of what you’re describing.

Angee:

Absolutely. I mean, I think the power of curiosity is another thing that’s going to propel your career, because I just always find it interesting how people kind of ended up where they are professionally and what twists and turns their career paths took. And I know I kind of geek out on it just because it’s what I do for a living. But I really think it’s interesting. Everybody has a good story and you learn so much from it. And you discover really cool jobs that you didn’t even know existed that can change your career path.

Kyla:

And it’s really interesting, I asked this question in a comms unity a couple of weeks ago. I asked what everybody’s background was, how they got into comms. And it’s so funny, so many people didn’t even know that comms was really a thing. But they ended up there. And all sorts of different backgrounds, which is so interesting. It really speaks to the profession that you… Not have to, but there’s definitely space to be a jack-of-all-trades and specialize in all different kinds of things. And it’s very attractive. One thing I also learned from comms unity yesterday, Jacinda, who is the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She has a background in comms.

Angee:

Really?

Kyla:

Hey, you could be Prime Minister of a country.

Angee:

That’s awesome. And she knows how to stay cool on camera. Did you see her the other day when the earthquake happened?

Kyla:

Yeah. Bless. Bless. She’s amazing.

Adam:

I saw that with the sound off at first and you really, if you just watch her, it’s barely, barely, she barely shakes. Very good.

Angee:

We’re having a bit of a shake or something like that.

Kyla:

That’s amazing. So one of the shifts that we’ve seen during COVID-19 is that organizations are finally recognizing the impact of internal comms. So what does that mean for people in the profession and what does that mean for their careers?

Angee:

Well, yes, thankfully, right? I mean, I think that internal comms has been elevated in recent years. I’m thrilled for that. But especially now, companies are recognizing that their most important stakeholder are their employees. And as we’re moving from this crisis mode into a transformational mode, and everything I’m reading, and one of my podcasts last week was an interview. And John Oneida talked about how this transformational period for organizations is not going to be a quick event. It’s going to be multi-year. And it’s going to require some phenomenal, not only communications to employees as they return to offices or continue to work from home. But then also what does that mean for the culture of corporate… The corporate culture when everybody is scattered and working from home? How do you maintain the culture of the organization? That’s going to require some really heavy lifting on the communicators part.

Kyla:

Yeah. And it’s not… You see in tech companies all the time, it’s about the ping pong table and the free beer or whatever. But, how are you supposed to do that when everybody’s working remotely or scattered? So it really comes down to what are the values of your organization? How do you make decisions? How do you organize? How do you treat people? Which I think when you look at a lot of these big organizations, when you really put people to the fire of these organizations, put their toes in the fire, it’s like, you might not measure up. You’ve been spending lots of money on these perks, but how you treat people, or your management style, or the way that you compensate people is just not up to task. So it should be a very interesting, interesting time.

Angee:

For sure. Yeah. And communicators, I think this is really an opportunity, I think for communicators to shine. Because for those people who can come in with a point of view and really have a seat at the table and talk about strategies that are going to help those organizations transform. They’re the ones who are going to rise. If you’re going to sort of sit back and not really talk about what you could possibly contribute to the organization during this time, you’re going to get lost in the weeds. So definitely step up, show your point of view and show how you can help the transformation. Because this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to communicators really affecting the bottom line of a business.

Adam:

That’s a really good topic. So you talked about internal comms has gotten more and more prevalent in the last few years. But moving forward, coming out of this, we have to hope that now that we’re really on a widespread scale, seeing the value of internal comms around the world, that that will have a ripple effect moving forward. And then maybe there will be a bit of a shift towards greater focus on that moving forward. So how can communication professionals be a part of ushering in that kind of change in your point of view?

Angee:

I think that communicators are going to have to be more agile than ever. If you’ve been primarily a PR person, media relations person, you need to bone up on your internal comms chops. If you’ve only been an internal comms person, it’s really going to be to your benefit, we all know this anyway, internal is external and external is internal. Nothing is only in one side of the spectrum there. So it’s really important to be as broad as you can be. But I just think sharpening those internal skills is going to be the critical factor. And understand the language of the business. We know this already, but if you can really get to the heart of the business goals and how you can help communicate to employees to achieve that, that’s where it’s going to work out.

Adam:

Now, speaking of organization and business goals, we’ve got someone who really should be a journalist, or a PI or something, Blaze Tracy. It’s the best name. So Blaze says, “Employee first is my philosophy as well. I’ve seen employee communications jammed into the marketing team or as an afterthought stuck in the HR group. Where do you think internal comms best sits in the hierarchy of an organization?”

Angee:

Okay, this is my opinion only. I’m going to be like Oprah. I’m only going to say my opinion. I absolutely feel like having communications under a very senior communication leader who reports to the CEO is the ideal situation. Of course, that internal comms person is going to just work side-by-side with their HR team. If they’re working on employer brand stuff, they’re probably going to be very close connection with the marketing side too. But they need to work… Communications is one strategy. Your internal and external messaging is the same. And if you have internal comms sitting over with HR, and they’re not part of the broader comm strategy, that’s not going to work out. That’s not the best situation. So I say, put everybody under comms and work closely, cross-functionally

Adam:

Hear, hear. Now, when we come out of all this, we’ll face a different challenge, which is both in our organizations. And when we look for new work, we’ll have to illustrate the impact that we as internal communicators have made. Can you talk a bit about your advice in this area?

Angee:

Well, from a career perspective, I can’t give advice on how to do that. But I can say from a career perspective, measuring your work matters and being able to demonstrate how you moved the dial in any way, shape or form. When you’re talking to the C-suite, they all have measurements. The CFO has measurements, the CMO has measurements. So what are the measurements that you need? And track the progress, whether it’s doing pulse surveys, or full employee surveys, focus groups, whatever the case may be. Make sure that you’re tracking your progress.

Adam:

Now, for internal comms, what kinds of measurements have you seen people regularly incorporate into their work to do just that? Now, you’ve mentioned a couple focus groups, pulse surveys, which are great. Obviously, through Bananatag, we’re big advocates of regular pulse surveys. Any other advice that you’d give to folks who are operating as internal communicators and want to demonstrate that value?

Angee:

Well again, I’m not an expert on that particular side of the fence, because I’m more about the career side. So I’ll just say, know how to talk about the measurements that you’ve used. And then know how to tell the story behind the measurement. Data’s only good if you have insights to go with it. And so that’s where communicators shine. And that’s going to also cross over when you’re interviewing for jobs or talking to your boss about moving up to the next level within an organization. It’s really just showing what you’ve done and telling the story behind it.

Kyla:

And I’m curious, so obviously with COVID, there’s been this light sort of shown on internal communications and internal communicators. And there is a lot of people losing their jobs right now. I mean, thankfully I don’t think it’s as bad for communicators, because they’re seen as essential in these organizations right now. But if people are looking to get into communications, how do they buff up their skills? You’ve talked about networking before, but what should they be focusing on if they want to get into comms?

Angee:

So are you thinking of someone that’s already mid career or just newly minted?

Kyla:

I would say mid career. Yeah.

Angee:

Well, I think that, like you said earlier when people are networking and they sort of stumble into communications, I think you have to have some basic skills, of course. Excellent writing skills are top of the list for me and for the hiring leaders that I work for. Writing is essential. I think people sometimes think of communications as a fun kind of career. And I plan all of our holiday parties for whatever. And that’s not really what communications necessarily is. So definitely strong writing. And really being able to connect the dots, because I think one skill set that communicators bring is they have a lens of how messages land on stakeholders. And so having that kind of skill to connect the dots of what’s happening, how are you telling that story? And how is that story going to land on the key stakeholders, whomever they are?

Kyla:

And I was reading, I think it was yesterday, I’m subscribed to the Reagan Communications newsletter. And they’ve been doing a daily newsletter since COVID came out. It’s an incredible, actually everyone should go subscribe to it. It’s really great. They have lots of good stuff in there. But one of the articles that they posted to is saying that they’re expecting that organizations that are not doing so hot in communicating or treating their employees well during COVID can expect some big attrition when people have the opportunity to leave. So if you’re a communicator, and you’re working for an organization, and you’re not feeling super hot about what’s going on and you don’t feel like you have a voice, when do you know it’s time to leave? And how do you take that next step, especially when things do seem really uncertain right now? And it doesn’t feel like maybe there’s a guaranteed job at the other end of things.

Angee:

Yeah. I think it’s such an individual decision just because we all have circumstances. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed, things like that. If it were four months ago, I am a big proponent of create your career vision, and then make it real, and figure out your dream job. And right now I’m telling people, you might have to take a job, not the job. And we have to survive. And that’s just the reality of things. And it is an uncertain time. But I would say that whatever job you take or whatever job you’re in, make the most of it, expand your skills the best you can, use it as a stepping stone. Even some people are taking roles right now when it’s a step back a little bit from where they were just because they need to have employment.

                And I think that’s going to be fine too. If you’re making a career decision that may not be the perfect resume builder, don’t worry about it. This is a time where you’ll get a hall pass. And it will be fine to skip back to where you were when things kind of calm down a little bit. And use this time to just really bone up on whatever skills you need to sharpen. And so I guess that’s what I would say about that.

Kyla:

Yeah. That’s great advice. That’s great advice.

Adam:

If you’re trying to explain the blip like that in your resume, the answer is 2020. Very defensible.

Angee:

Exactly. Exactly. I had some college students, I was talking to college students that didn’t get internships this year because internships just disappeared. And one of them said to me, “Well, I’ve been told since I started college that if I don’t have an internship between my junior and senior year, I won’t get a job next year.” And I was like, “No, 2020.”

Adam:

Yeah.

Angee:

No one will blame you.

Adam:

Absolutely.

Angee:

But, if you’re in a job that you hate, I think I didn’t really answer the question. If you’re in a job you hate, and you’re feeling like your employer’s not appreciating you. Is it time to make a move? If you have an opportunity to make a move, sure. But, know that companies are taking a long time to hire. And some of them have positions on hold just because they don’t have the bandwidth to even bring somebody on right now.

Adam:

I’m trying to think about onboarding in a different kind of world. Yeah. So we’ll have a chance to get to your audience, comments and questions in just a minute. We do have Sophia saying, “Very fresh perspective, Angee. Thank you.” We agree. But for now you, one of the things you help people do is get work. But for people who are already in jobs, what are some of the mistakes that you see, or some of the challenges that you see your clients in internal comms facing? And how do you work through those with them?

Angee:

Tell me more. That’s such a broad question. I don’t want to go off on a tangent on something.

Adam:

Incredibly. Are there any examples, any anecdotes that you can share of when you’re working with clients to help them be more intentional in their careers, any barriers that they face to doing that and how do you help them?

Angee:

I think one thing is sometimes we get blind spots about ourself. I mean, self-awareness is so critical in how to be intentional in anything in your life. But if you are… Just demand like, “Hey, I’ve been here two years and I want to get promoted right now.” And you’re going to your boss saying, “I deserve a promotion.” I think this is a common thing people think. Well, I’ve been here a certain amount of time. Therefore, I should get this promotion. And I hear that a lot… People come to me a lot to work on how to level up their career.

                And so we create a strategy on how to have a good career conversation with your boss. Find out where you are as it relates to that next level up. Where are the gaps in your abilities, or experiences, or skillsets? And then how can your boss become your champion and help you develop those, fill in those gaps, gain the experience you need so that you are eligible for that promotion. That way you’re showing a business case basically on why you deserve that. It’s not just because you’ve been there a certain amount of time. It’s because you’re doing the work that really elevates you to that next level.

Kyla:

Well, that’s great. And this is actually a great transition. We’re down to our last seven minutes with you, Angee.

Angee:

Okay.

Kyla:

And you know what that means. It’s the Bananatag Tool Tip Of The Day.

Angee:

There it is.

Kyla:

You have a great tool tip for us today that everyone’s going to love. Why don’t you tell us all about it?

Angee:

So I’ve sent you the career action plan. And basically the career action plan is a document that you can just fill out. It’s what you can do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually, to be more intentional in your career. It gives you a few little ideas, but also just think about the things that are important to you. Annually, one of the things I do to be intentional in my career is I re-look at my career vision. And I rewrite it. And every year I kind of look at it, did it come true? What do I need to work on? Where is it? And once a quarter I meet with at least one of my mentors. Because that’s really important for me to maintain that relationship. So what do you want to do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually?

Kyla:

That’s great.

Adam:

I love that.

Kyla:

So we’ll provide a link to that. I think we’ll put it in the chat. And everybody can get their paws on that. Very cool.

Adam:

Yeah. We’ll link to Angee’s website where you can find out more information in general. So a few announcements before we come back to you, Angee. Friday on the show, we have Anthony Vaughn, host of the E1B2 podcast. A podcast designed to put employees first and business second. We’ve been so lucky to get amazing guests like Angee and Anthony on the show. I think we’re at something like the show 22 right now. It’s just crazy how fast it’s gone. And if you like the show, help us grow. Give us a like on Twitter, @Bananatag. Follow us on LinkedIn so you never miss a show. And every now and then if you want to feel compelled to share one of our posts about the show, we wouldn’t be mad at you.

Kyla:

And of course, we’re very excited today to announce that Bananatag is officially more than email. That’s right. This week we’re launching our multichannel features, which means that we’re now integrating with third-party employee communication channels, like Slack and MS Teams. That means you can create and schedule messages to Slack. And soon you’ll be able to integrate with Microsoft Teams as well. And that’s all on top of our amazing collaboration features that have already launched, which means you can stop the back and forth and all of those approval chains and just get everybody in that darn email. Get everybody putting their content in, editing, doing what they got to do so you can make your content better. And you can get it out faster. In our most collaborative email designer on the market. And if you’re interested in that, definitely check out the chat.

                We’re going to have a link there to have a demo with one of our account executives. A friendly member of our Bananatag team who is going to show you all of that cool stuff. And all the other amazing features that would just take me forever to explain right now. So just go get a demo. It’s going to be great. I promise. Angee, you’ve been an absolute delight. It is always a pleasure to talk to you. It’s always a pleasure to connect. I hope that we get to connect in person sooner rather than later. But, do you have any final words before we leave?

Angee:

Thank you for having me here. I love Bananatag. And I love all of the people that… Internal communications is such a fantastic field. Every time I get a search that’s for internal communicators, I get to meet some of the most incredible talent. And so thank all of you out there for being like that.

Kyla:

That’s great. Yes. Internal communicators are the best. I feel like I’m so lucky. I didn’t know much about internal communications before I started working at Bananatag. And then of course, like as a writer, I started obviously doing research and talking to people in internal communications. And I’m like, this has got to be the best audience to create content for ever. Just like the friendliest, happiest, greatest, most appreciative bunch.

Angee:

They really are.

Kyla:

They’re really awesome. Well, thank you everyone for tuning in. It’s always a treat. We’re going to be back here on Friday. Make sure you’re here. Go ahead into the chat, go back and check out all those links that we’ve put up there. There’s so much good stuff to check out. And of course, thank you for tuning in. We love having you and we’ll see you on Friday. Remember we’re all in this together. Take deep breaths. You can do this and we’ll see you next time. Bye.

Angee:

Bye.

Adam:

Bye. So a lot of us had police sirens in our background today.

Kyla:

Yeah.

Adam:

What’s going on out there?

Kyla:

It’s a wild world.

Angee:

Hey, my dog didn’t bark. That’s the good news.