What Do Employers Really Mean When They Ask For “Good Communication Skills?”

What Do Employers Really Mean When They Ask For “Good Communication Skills” ?


If you’re on the job hunt, you have probably found “good communication skills” listed as a requirement for almost every job out there. But what do employers really mean when they ask for “good communication skills”? I’m breaking down the main elements of communication that employers are seeking and the skills that you will need to demonstrate in order to meet their expectations:

  • Listening Skills: In order to be an effective listener, you need to be an active listener. This means being engaged in the conversation even when you aren’t the one speaking. Lean in, focus, and make eye contact with the speaker during conversations and in meetings. When the other person is done speaking, respond in a way that acknowledges that you have not only heard but listened and absorbed what the other person was saying. Rephrase the speaker’s main points to make sure that you understood the point they attempted to make.
  • Speaking: In order to be an effective speaker, you need to be able to organize your thoughts and articulate them clearly and concisely. This often means thinking before you speak instead of feeling pressure to immediately fill in silent gaps during conversations. If you need to, take a breath and collect your thoughts before speaking. This is especially true under pressure situations like job interviews and/or during heated discussions.
  • Body Language: Your body says more than your words. Slouching, crossing your arms, and looking down are all signals that you are uninterested, bored, and/or uncomfortable in your situation. This is often a deal breaker in job interviews. Display confidence by sitting up straight, making eye contact, and uncrossing your arms. Leaning in when you’re listening to a speaker or in a meeting signals that you are interested and eager to hear what the speaker is saying.
  • Attitude: Even the most qualified individuals won’t get hired if their interview suggests that they have a pessimistic attitude and low enthusiasm for working hard. Prepare to answer your interview questions in a way that promotes you as a positive, glass half-full type of person. Focus on the positives and on taking charge of challenging situations instead of fears or negatives associated with hard work and overcoming obstacles. Every employer wants to hire employees with a “can-do” attitude and positive energy.
  • Written Communication: You can be an above average oral communicator and well qualified for a particular job, yet having a poorly formatted or sloppily written resume will always prevent you from getting hired. Recruiters and employers will take an automatic pass on resumes that are poorly written. Sloppy writing suggests a sloppy individual who won’t take the time to perform the tasks required to perform his/her job correctly. Invest the time and resources now into understanding what separates a good resume from a bad one so that you can use your resume to land you an interview.

These communication skills are necessary requirements for most jobs and are all skills you can acquire through practice and simply by paying attention to how you currently communicate. If you aren’t already demonstrating that you are an effective listener or speaker through your words and your body language, then take some time to practice. Sit up straight, make eye contact, and engage fully in conversations. Demonstrating that you have all of the above skills during a job interview will take you one step closer to nailing the interview and landing your sought after dream job.

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