If you’re trying to get a job for the first time ever, whether it’s in a company, shop, for an individual or anything else, there are certain skills which would make it much easier to find your first job. One of the most important skills you can have when finding a first job is how you communicate.
Communication skills are important for almost any job, and have a wide spectrum and needs based on the job. But you almost always need them and they can help companies decide between two candidates with similar skills and experience.
There are two categories:
Verbal: verbal communication is how you speak. It is relevant at any job - from babysitter, shopkeeper, mechanic, pilot, gardener, to IT technician, and really anything else. You’re either working for someone or giving a service to someone when working for yourself, you always have to talk to people.
Written: written communication is common in many jobs these days but less so in more physical jobs, like a mechanic, shopkeeper, gardener, etc. Written communication can include text messages, emails, chats, posts, documents, presentations and more.
How can you make sure your communication skills stand out from other candidates?
Our world is moving fast. Most people don’t have the time or patience to listen or read too many details that are not relevant for the purpose of the communication.
This means you should make sure your communication is not too long, which can make it hard to follow and understand.
Have a purpose.
You need to know why you are initiating this communication.
Do you have a message you want to pass? Do you need someone to make a decision on something? Do you require more information?
Without a purpose, your communication is less efficient and organized. When you know your purpose, you reach your goals more easily.
You don’t need perfect, mother tongue level English (or other languages). You don’t need to be a major in literature. But you need to make sense.
People with all levels of language skill need to understand what you are trying to tell them.
Make sure your sentence structure follows some logic. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end to your stories. Make sure you know what you’re talking about before you start talking. And make sure you can recognize when your audience does not understand you, so you explain further.
Know your audience.
Different audiences require different language, different length of communication, different complexity, different tone and even a different way you look at them when you speak.
Make sure you know who is standing in front of you before you start speaking, and if you’re not sure, ask politely.
As a general rule of thumb:
The more senior the audience, the less time and context they have, and therefore the shorter and clearer the communication needs to be. The wording may need to be more high level, polite and politically correct.
The more junior the audience, the more time, less context and less prior knowledge or experience they have, and therefore the communication should be very clear but more lengthy and filled with explanations. The wording could be more direct and simple.
Do your homework.
Everyone appreciates someone who knows what they’re talking about. If you know you will need to communicate with someone on something, do some reading prior, prepare, and try to anticipate questions you may be asked.
When you don’t know something, don’t say ‘I don’t know’, write it down and say you will get back to them with an answer as soon as you can, and then try to come back with an answer that same day.
Watch your facial expression
Your face can show what you really think and feel. Make sure you learn to control your facial expressions and match them to the message you are trying to deliver.
Not every message can be delivered with a smile, and a serious face is not always a good fit.
Once you know what your goal is for communication, you can decide what facial expression may match.
If it is a serious, sad or emotional message, a more serious face may be required.
If it is good news, or you are trying to increase motivation and enthusiasm in others, then a smile can be useful to deliver your message more effectively.
Even the most successful people need to practice their communication before delivering it.
Make sure you practice common phrases, a presentation, talking about yourself, and anything else where the way the communication goes can have a major impact on you or your career.
You can practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, in front of family, friends and other close colleagues. Even practicing once can significantly improve your delivery of a message, and can also help with timing.
Following these tips can help you with finding a job.
This is not the only needed skill for most jobs, but it is a good start when you’re just beginning your career journey.
Now go get that job!