A failure to communicate is the difference between finding a job and gearing up for another week in the unemployment line. Most of us believe we already know how to communicate since we do it on a daily basis, but telling a potential employer that you’re the right person for the job is a lengthy process, and an important skill you must demonstrate from beginning to end.
How important is communication these days? When assessing job candidate skills and qualities, employers rate verbal communication skills the most important, according to the latest job outlook report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Using a five-point scale, verbal communication skills score a 4.63, ahead of teamwork (4.62), the ability to make decisions and solve problems (4.49), and being able to plan, organize, and prioritize work (4.41). Communicating is routinely among the most desired skills looking at past outlooks. After all, if you can’t communicate your good ideas, how can the company benefit from them?
“Strong communication skills make you more productive and more effective,” explains Pamela Skillings, co-founder of Big Interview, in a recent article. “When you communicate well the first time, you save a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted on clarifying, answering questions, correcting wrong perceptions, chasing people down, and fixing mistakes. Great communication skills can set an employee apart. At the very least, they can mean the difference between the potential for advancement and a stagnant career. Communication skills are also key to getting hired in the first place.”
Finding a new job requires written and verbal communication skills. A well-written cover letter and resume are vital in a job search. They are your first impression to a potential employer. Your cover letter is a teaser to your resume, but shouldn’t regurgitate your resume. It needs to clearly show why you’re a good fit for the company, your understanding of the company’s values, and what you bring to the table that can’t be explained by bullet points on your resume. Your cover letter should be less formal than your resume so you don’t seem insincere or robotic.
You have roughly six seconds to impress or disappoint a hiring manager with your resume. Make sure your resume is formatted so it’s easy to read. You should stick with professional fonts (Helvetica, Calibri, Garamond, Arial, etc.), and break up big blocks of text by using bullet points. Instead of focusing on previous job responsibilities, highlight your achievements and results. You should even include a link to your previous projects if possible. CareerBuilder finds 21% of employers say a resume with a link to a candidate’s portfolio, blog, or website makes them pay closer attention. Words like “achieved,” “improved,” and “managed” also attract positive attention.
The job interview is the true communication test of the hiring process. Sitting across from a hiring manager is nerve-racking, but the words leaving your mouth need to be effective and applicable. Interestingly, the interview begins with the small chit-chat before the official discussions begin. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology says this “rapport building” can set the tone for the rest of the interview. Once the official discussions begin, make sure you make eye contact (look between the interviewer’s eyes) and speak clearly, especially when answering the toughest interview questions.
Often, simply avoiding the biggest interview blunders will keep you in the running for a new job. Make sure you avoid communicating faux pas by researching the wrong answers to five job interview questions. Believe it or not, the hiring manager doesn’t want to hear how much you hate your old boss or how you’re a workaholic. Also, an interview isn’t a one-way street. When you’re asked if you have any questions for the interviewer, you better make sure to have at least a couple so you appear truly interested in the company.
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