Employers are always on the lookout for candidates with effective communication skills. Job seekers who can express themselves through writing or verbally can quickly impress hiring managers and land great jobs.
1. What Are Communication Skills?
Communication skills are abilities that allow you to clearly convey ideas, whether it be through writing, talking, or signing. They’re usually soft skills, but some are considered hard skills (like public speaking or fluency in a second language).
Individuals with strong communication skills can explain complex concepts in ways everyone can understand, and translate technical jargon into something easy to digest.
If this sounds like you and you’re looking for work, understand that your skill-set is highly prized by employers. The 2017 GMAC Corporate Recruiter’s Survey Report found that four of the top five desired skills for business-school graduates were tied to communication.
2. Top 10 Effective Communication Skills
There are many types of communication skills, and each type is marketable. Incorporating these skills into your job applications and showcasing them during interviews will undoubtedly lead to more job offers.
Here are the top ten communication skills for landing work, as determined by our in-house recruitment team:
#1. Written communication
Writing a clear sentence isn’t something everyone can do consistently, so let employers know you have writing chops. List writing accomplishments on your resume and ensure every sentence in your cover letter highlights your skill.
#2. Verbal communication
Verbal skills are important when working with other people, presenting information, or speaking on the phone. Let employers know you can get the point across when talking to others, regardless of the situation.
#3. Technical communication
Technical communication skills are a must if you talk regularly with tech departments or work in IT, but they’re also vital in industries that require specialized skill sets such as health care or manufacturing. Use your resume to demonstrate that you can clearly communicate about highly technical topics to a variety of audiences.
If you can communicate in a way to inspire others, you’re more likely to be tapped for leadership positions in the future. Show off your leadership communication capabilities by including relevant team-leading experiences on your resume.
Marketing calls for a specific set of communication tools. If you can talk or write about a product or service in a way that makes people want to buy it, you’ll be a valuable team member!
Talking about data without making it boring or indecipherable is a serious skill, and employers look for this strength when hiring anyone who needs to turn data into decisions. List certifications and skills you have in this area, such as statistical process control or Six Sigma.
Decks and slide shows remain a constant in the business and marketing spheres. List presentation software you’ve mastered on your resume and link to portfolio work if possible to show off your ability to communicate in slide format.
#8. Public Speaking
Not everyone with great verbal communication skills can wow a crowd, so include your public speaking skills on your resume if you have them. Provide a list of successful speaking engagements to back up your claims when possible.
#9. Web Communication
Customer service and sales organizations communicate over the web, so if you’re an experienced CSR with chat capabilities, show it off on your resume. Keeping up with multiple chat windows without confusing customers is definitely a specialist skill.
#10. Phone Skills
The phone is still an important tool, especially for front office, sales, administrative and customer service staff. Let employers know that you know how to work high-end phone equipment and that you’re able to communicate clearly over the phone.
3. Three Tips for Showcasing Your Communication Skills
If you really want to impress a potential employer with your command of communication, then quantify and qualify. What does that mean? Provide proof to back up your claims: If you’re a computer programmer, then provide a list of the coding languages you know and your proficiency in them, along with links to examples of your work.
Communication expertise is sometimes difficult to express directly, so you have to put some real work into both your resume and writing your cover letter to prove it.
After all, these are two prime examples of communication skills in action, so you can’t list communication as a strength on your resume if your resume and cover letter aren’t written well!
You can use the resume skills section to list communication skills. But you still need to make sure to back up anything you claim throughout the rest of your resume.
While there’s nothing wrong with summarizing valuable attributes in a quick list employers can scan, take time to properly showcase your communication skills throughout your resume and cover letter. Here are a few tips for doing so:
Tip #1. Place skills within the context of your actions
Use action verbs and narrative language to provide information about how you put your communication skills to work to solve a problem or achieve a result. Perhaps you created a presentation or wrote a sales email that had a high conversion rate. You might have used your verbal and leadership communication skills to bring disparate teams together for a common goal.
Tip #2. Choose one accomplishment or communication skill to highlight in your cover letter
If you’re applying to a position where communication isn’t just important but is a hard prerequisite, make sure you highlight your skills in your cover letter. Choose your best communication-based accomplishment and devote a sentence or two to it, but don’t forget to follow other cover letter best practices when doing so.
Tip #3. Make solid communication an inherent part of your application
No matter what is required for the application process—a resume, cover letter, video, or other media—take time to ensure your communication skills show up throughout.
Make sure every sentence is clear and makes the point you want it to, and proofread your work so a silly typo doesn’t make employers question your ability to communicate.
Communication skills are important for every applicant, but how much you emphasize them depends on your industry and the position. Always include skills that are relevant, and back them up with the details included in your resume and cover letter. Learn more about how to wow employers with your experience and knowledge by checking out our comprehensive guide to skills for resumes.