The ability to communicate effectively is important in any area of life.
When it comes to looking for a new position, it may mean the difference between landing your dream job or not. In fact, nearly every factor of your productivity and success relies on being a good communicator. If you’re in the middle of a job search, here are some things to consider as you work to improve your level of communication.
To start, know that communication comes in verbal and non-verbal forms.
The verbal form is what everyone thinks of in terms of the words that come out of your mouth. But non-verbal is a significant way to communicate too. This especially applies to job interview situations. Think about your posture, body language, eye contact, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Each of these impact the receiver of your communication and has an impact on what someone thinks of you.
When we communicate, actively listening to our audience is a foundational skill.
To listen actively means that you are making the effort to hear and understand what your potential employer or recruiter is trying to say. The keys to active listening are:
Making the choice and having the time to actually listen to the other person
Being in a space without distractions
Allowing the other person the space to tell their story
Making eye contact (put down your phone) so that you show interest in what’s being said
Using your body language to respond
Making sure you “hear” them by asking, “Could you explain more?”
Continuing to ask more questions and to elaborate such as, “Sounds like you’re saying that…”
Paraphrasing what you hear them saying
Watching body language and listening for emotions
Following their lead in terms of where they want the conversation to go and asking what is important to them
While you can listen actively in interviews, the same isn’t true for communicating through the written form like your resume and cover letter.
When everything is on paper, you must rely on your ability to impact another person in writing. To do this, first take a good look at the job description. If it gives you enough information, you can tailor your whole cover letter to answer or fit their needs. Next, try to figure out who is your audience for the letter. Is it HR or is it your potential manager? If it’s the latter, you might be able to use much more specific industry language and examples than if it’s a general HR representative. Finally, use your resume as a guide for what to expand upon, tailor each cover letter for each job (do not use a generic template), and take this opportunity to show off how well you can write.
All throughout the job search process, you are building relationships—from the person who first reviews your resume to the trainer your first day on the job.
So, communication is key to growing these relationships you are forming. Beyond active listening (which is definitely critical), it’s important to remember that everyone comes from a different background that shapes their thinking. Practicing the skills of communicating your ideas clearly and efficiently also helps. Be interested in other people and how they feel about things going on at work and in the world. But no matter what, you’re bound to encounter conflict, so here are some ways to overcome common challenges in communication.
Don’t be reactionary. It’s not unusual to have a strong reaction to something negative, so taking a minute to calm down is important so you respond rather than react.
Don’t have biases. While it’s important to treat everyone fairly, some people will need different forms of communication to be effective. So this balance is vital.
Don’t assume. Just because someone nods their head at you in agreement doesn’t mean that’s how they really feel or that they really understand you. So digging a little deeper to make sure you are not misunderstood helps communication.
Don’t talk too much. Again, remember to listen and ask questions. The more open-ended questions the better and not just “yes” and “no” questions.
So, are you in a job search and feeling stuck—unsure where to look next or what to pursue?
Work on your communication. It can play a pivotal role in the process and in your life in general. Start simple with something like paying attention to your eye contact when others speak or listening more than talking. Focusing on the communication aspect of your job search will never be a waste of time.