Employers Want Verbal Communication Skills in New Hires
By Janice Burch, Co-Owner, Pro Resume Center, LLC
Maybe you look brilliant on paper or graduated near the top of your college class? Perhaps you ran circles around your classmates with research and discovery and received an award for your final project? That sounds fantastic…but how are your in-person verbal communication skills?
If weak, it’s time to get cracking on changing that and here’s why….
Verbal Communication Skills Key for Most Employers
When asked to assess candidate skills/qualities, employers are rating verbal communication skills as most important.
According to several studies, including a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE),while employers typically look for evidence that a job candidate has the knowledge base to be effective in a position, and has displayed some proficiency in prior jobs or college coursework, they also are looking for a key skill that some believe is taking a hit due to the impact of social media. Another recent study out of Iowa State University, published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, also showed employers identified strong verbal skills more than written, visual or electronic communication skills as a top hiring trait sought in new hires.
We live in an era where today’s young adult population has been raised on a host of communication methods which in many instances, has replaced the need for verbal and in-person communications.
Today, we tend to text versus call, or send an email instead of swinging past a colleague's office. Moments and emotions are shared and plans are made via messaging apps or Twitter. Pictures are snapped and sent, instead of talking to one another. This reliance on technology shows no signs of slowing down.
According to a recent report by Common Sense Media, the social media savvy teenager often spends more than three hours a day on social media networking sites and that number grows exponentially each year. Some say the heaviest users among today’s teens spend up to nine hours a day on social media, and that does not include homework or time dedicated toward school activities.
This is our future workforce.
We are at a point in history where we are literally AWASH in technological advances meant to help us improve and speed up communications.
In so many ways, it is working. But, without the development of communication skills, which includes learning how to read verbal AND nonverbal cues, some social scientists believe we are actually MORE disconnected from one another than ever before. We are hiding behind our laptop and phone screens and therefore, not learning how to develop that sixth sense of reading others, something that naturally occurs with ongoing verbal exchanges.
Clearly, possessing strong social media skills can be a valuable asset for most jobs in today’s world, but if accompanied by a lack of experience and understanding in how to conduct effective face-to-face communications with supervisors, clients, and teammates in the business world, your career climb could be held up, or worse – you won’t get past the interview.
So how can you improve your in-person communication skills?
Step away from the phone and laptop once in awhile. Engaging with your network of friends more often – in person – is a start. There are a number of ways you can take it up a notch to really help prepare yourself for success in the business world:
- Toastmasters (Visit www.toastmasters.org to find your nearest chapter) This group offers a non-pressure way to hone your public speaking skills in a nurturing environment, and learn how to take the pulse of an audience or group during meeting situations. It will help you learn how YOUR communication style impacts others. Mentors and group members offer constructive feedback to one another.
- Local Meet-Ups – (Visit www.meetup.com and plug in your city to find groups that meet, in person, with a common interest in developing communication skills for business) A recent peek at a few major city offerings showed group names such as: Developing Soft Skills for the Business World; Communication Skills for the Awkwardly Shy; and more. If there is not a group, start one! Ask a few prominent local business people to serve as mentors or speakers for the group meetings to kick things off as you build your own network.
- Local technical colleges or area recreation departments usually offer adult learning courses to help improve communication skills and navigate the business world for very little cost.
- Work with a professional career coach to learn how to better handle face-to-face communications and engagement with ease. We have worked with clients from junior through senior levels to help them communicate better with colleagues, media, teams and management. This is a strong investment in your future and career. Do your homework when selecting a coach to be certain they have a business background coaching individuals at your career level.
In today’s competitive job market, every single thing counts.
So, step away from the phone and computer once in awhile, and work on your in-person communication skills. Learn the importance and nuances of body language and voice inflection. Understand how listening and asking the right questions – at the right time – can help you better connect with colleagues, bosses and clients.
All of these skills, when put into play, will help you best present yourself in face-to-face engagement and boost your opportunities for a job offer or promotion.
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