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Benchmark Reports

Association Director of Communications: Position Benchmark Reports

Posted by Mitch Corlett on June 10, 2015

When faced with a stack of resumes, what's the best way to differentiate the top performers from their peers?

Based upon hundreds of interviews with hiring managers and candidates, this Position Benchmark Report will help you identify the factors that are most likely to drive performance in a role like this.

What does a typical association Director of Communication role look like in this market? What should you expect to see from a Top Performer?

Employers usually tell us they want to see some combination of the following from candidates (note that hiring requirements vary widely and are unique to each employer’s situation):

  1. Is the candidate a member of the leadership team? Do they work directly with senior leadership? Are they comfortable working with all levels of an organization?
  2. Do they create the strategy for communications, for programs, for multi-messaging? How do they contribute to the development of the comprehensive strategic communications plan?
  3. Have they led a national campaign across multiple internal stakeholder groups? Do they work cross-functionally with internal staff to execute initiatives?
  4. Do they have integrated marketing experience?
  5. Do they have experience communicating with groups? Do they interact with members or other external stakeholders? Do they have experience working with volunteers, vendors, and committees?
  6. Have they created and delivered the value proposition? Developed targeted branding campaigns?
  7. Do they have public relations or media experience? Have they had direct interaction with media contacts?
  8. Have they managed a budget and created the communications plan around it? Can they prioritize, allocate, and plan effectively to operate within budget?
  9. Have they led and managed a functional team? Can they tailor staffing to fit the needs of the organization?
  10. Do they have a broad understanding of all facets of communications -- advocacy, crisis, branding, legislative, membership? Does their experience including international or exposure to different cultures? Do they have exceptionally strong writing skills?


What are the key factors that distinguish Top Performers from their peers?

The most common reason candidates do not move forward in this kind of role is because they are perceived as not having deep enough experience as leaders in the communications field.  

Additionally, pay close attention to these factors:

  1. Candidates have to be versatile, an expert in every facet of communications. Organizations are looking for someone who understands how to use a wide range of communications strategically for a diverse audience.
  2. Organizations are interested in people who take leadership roles both in terms of managing people and advancing initiatives. Contributing to strategy development and decision making as part of the leadership team and working cross functionally across the organization indicate readiness for a Director level role.
  3. Executive directors do not want to manage or provide direction to director level staff. Candidates have to demonstrate a track record of spearheading strategy, building programs, and initiating message development. Associations want someone who will partner with the leadership team and work well with staff and members.

So, as a hiring manager, what can you do to make hiring more personal?

How can you get the attention of top candidates? As the job market tightens and recruiting becomes more challenging, how can you update your hiring process so you are not trapped in the land before time? How can you organize your recruiting efforts to appeal to the most selective people?

Most job advertising budgets are wasted on ineffective ads that don't reach the right people. Effective job postings attract the right people for the right reasons, so you spend your time interviewing people who will fit into your culture and stay long enough to deliver results.

Download “6 Steps to Writing Job Descriptions that Attract Great Candidates to learn how to make your job postings twice as effective:

How to Write Job Descriptions to Attract Great Candidates

Topics: Position Benchmark Reports