The one skill that can set you apart (and how to develop it now)
There is a simple truth in today’s labour market – to be successful in the job search you need to be a good communicator. Studies have consistently shown, when employers are asked the top skills they seek in a candidate, communication is typically at the top of their list. Why? Employers need team players who can communicate effectively with managers, customers and other employees. Communication supports all aspects of a business and no organization can exist without it.
Whether it is by e-mail, telephone, or in person, communication is everywhere. In many ways, technology and social media has limited our quality of communication. Think about it – why talk face-to-face when you can e-mail, text, or tweet a message? Sometimes this just leads to more questions.
Candidates who can do it all – read, write, speak and listen effectively have a huge advantage over those who don’t. Communication is key to success in job networking and getting your resume noticed by employers. Maybe it’s time we all brushed up on our communication skills!
Here are five ways to improve your communication skills:
Get to the Point – Do you ever think people just talk to hear their own voices? When communicating with someone be as specific and brief as possible. Present single ideas that are logical and easy to understand and follow. Respect another person’s time when conversing. Conveying information in a simple, clear, condensed format is best. Hence, why ‘elevator pitches’ are so important in the job search!
Be Mindful of Body Language – When talking with someone face-to-face think about your body language and the message you’re conveying. Do you look away when someone speaks? Are your arms crossed? Are you slouching? This type of body language may signal that you are disinterested or not credible. As well, it’s important to understand the other person’s body language to see clues as to their level of engagement.
Show Enthusiasm – If you are not interested or passionate about what you have to say, why should someone else be? Enthusiasm is contagious. Believe in what you say and be truthful. While someone may not agree with your point, your discussions will be well served if you show conviction in your points and passion in your tone. Remember to smile!
Listen Carefully – Many people think they are good listener, when in fact the exact opposite holds true. Being an effective listener does not mean just letting another person speak, but being active and attentive during a conversation. Good listeners truly want to hear what another person has to say. They look at the other person, avoid distractions, nod and smile to acknowledge points, and don’t interrupt.
Practice, Practice, Practice! – Communication may come naturally to some, but more often than not being a good communicator takes practice. Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Go on informational interviews, do public speaking whenever possible, and consider writing for a blog on a regular basis.
It can take a lot of effort to communicate effectively. Good communication is essential in the workplace and employers know that quality communication is what makes the difference to having a successful organization. Don’t underestimate the power of communication as a cornerstone of success in the job search!
Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of DirectoryOfCareers.ca. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.