Communication: The Soft Skill Your Career Can’t Live Without

MITCONS-corporate-training-program-communication-skillsCommunications are in a work environment. And as many young professionals have discovered, it is also crucial in your job search, while you’re networking, on the phone, at the interview, and while you’re out and about.

Because in the Social Age, you’re always “on” – and effective and focused communication is always vital.

If you haven’t given thought to your communication style and efficiency, you must. Specifically, you must think about how it affects the aspects of your education, job search, and your professional life.

Let’s take a close look at the various forms of communication… and their impact on your career.

Your Verbal Communications

Take advantage of any opportunities you have to present in front of a group. As scary as it may seem, you will be better prepared for the workforce. Try to ignore your fear and think of this as part of your education.

Your Non-Verbal Communications

You’re not only communicating with your mouth; you’re also communicating with your body language, facial expressions, and voice intonation. The more animated you are (within reason) the better your message will come across. Some believe effective verbal communications is 80% presentation.

Your Written Communications

When you write expository papers for class, learn to be concise, yet informative. The working world prefers ideas presented in writing that are as short as possible. This includes emails, proposals, marketing literature, whitepapers, etc. I remember a marketing manager saying to me, “Brevity is the key to success.” She was right.

Your Networking Communication

Networking is an essential part of your job search and requires excellent face to face and written communication skills. It’s by networking that you will penetrate the Hidden Job Market, which is a topic in itself. Your goal is to become known by people who matter.

While networking, important forms of communications include:

  • Your ability to articulate your talents and goals; speaking clearly about your unique value proposition is essential
  • Listening to the people with whom you’re networking is critical; in fact, active listening is a key component of just about every interaction, especially on social media

When It’s Time to Put Your Networking to Work

Once your networking and verbal communications have led you to the decision-makers of organizations, it’s time to put your written communication skills to work. You’ve already created a strong online presence and resume templates (plural) that outline your education, experience and skills; now it is time to speak to that employers’ exact needs. Tailor your resume to the culture of the company, the job description – and even the hiring manager.

The result, if all goes well, is the job interview. It’s at the interview that you’ll have to shine with answers to the tough questions; where you’ll have to come across as confident and affable. This is the culmination of all your efforts so far; where ultimately you’ll have to demonstrate every communication skill at your disposal.

The result: an amazing job offer!

Communicating with Colleagues and Supervisors

Congratulations, you landed a job. Now is the time when your communication skills will help you to perform well and progress through the ranks. At this point, your colleagues and supervisors will expect nothing less than articulate and clear communications in all forms.

Company meetings are a great example of how important it is to present clear ideas. Let’s say you have to report on the social marketing campaign you’re working on. The group of twenty people, including the director of the organization, want to know the specifics of the project. To your credit you’ve come prepared. You walk to the center of the room (don’t sit) to deliver your PowerPoint presentation. You flip through each slide, talking about how you’ll employ Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to promote the organization. 

Your body language demonstrates confidence, the tone of your voice is upbeat, you smile and communicate effectively with your hands. You notice that the director is smiling and nodding while you’re talking.

You’ve nailed it. You’ve established credibility. And you are now a trusted colleague – all because of the hard work you’ve put into your communication skills.

Bringing It Together

Communications constantly ranks high on employers’ lists of essential skills. There’s no secret why. Throughout your career, you will demonstrate your communication skills in a variety of ways.

Throughout your professional life, continue to work on your communications skills. Join Toastmasters. Take an improv class. Or advance your writing skills through college or online courses. After all, communication is the one skill your career can’t live without.

 

Bob McIntosh AuthorAbout the Author: Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center. Jobseekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Follow Bob on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

 

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