Employers Want “Excellent verbal and written communication skills”; They Mean It!

by Bornheimer, Kathy Friday, August 27, 2010
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With today’s 24/7 technology, written and verbal communication formats have expanded. Those with superior skills are often the ones selected for employment and/or promotions (45 Things blog (8/2), emails and voice messages) and HR Capitalist, The (7/27) “Hire the Write Candidate”). Both of these articles address the writing abilities of candidates and the impact it has in regards to resumes/cover letters, emails and voice mail.
Voice mail and emails are now leading in how people communicate with each other. Using these forms of communication in a business setting is very different than personal usage. Here are some simple rules:
•Use complete sentences in all emails, especially with your supervisor, vendors or customers. It could be forwarded or the information used for a second purpose.

•Use spell and grammar check; it’s there for a reason! In a multicultural world spell check will be in “hyper drive” with proper names, so take the extra effort to make sure these words are correct. While grammar check is useful, become more skilled in this are yourself since you’ll need it for direct verbal communication.

•Do not use texting abbreviations at all.

•Be aware of attachments and do not over use (potential abuse) this feature.

•Be sender and time sensitive; be mindful of where, when and how they will receive the message. Make sure that the level of urgency is indicated accurately.

•Voice messages must contain some critical areas: Rate of speech (people may actually have to write the information down!), volume (can they hear you?), clarity (we have become a nation of “mumblers”). This is even more critical when English is the second language on either side (sender/receiver). Leave your name and phone number twice; at the beginning of the message and at the end. This reduces the need to replay the message.

Writing skills in document form Your resume and cover letter are the first direct examples of your writing abilities. Remember to put them in the proper perspective; they have to be good enough to get you in the door and keep you in the running. Your potential employer will start evaluating you at this level.
Additional things to consider are forms of documentation you’ll be using or providing in the scope of the job you’re applying for (new employment or promotion). Will you be developing manuals, policy/procedure documents, literature for vendors or customers, etc.? One thing to be mindful of is that many people tend to write like they talk. This is all the more reason to evaluate your skills. Do you really know and more importantly use basic grammatical rules (subject/verb agreement, use of pronouns and do you “dangle your participles) correctly? What is your use of slang or even more critical profanity; especially in verbal conversation? These areas are most noticeable again when English is the second language.
People who are skilled in communication get noticed for the write reasons and are more desirable to a manager. They are more confident in you; the candidate in that you will reflect positively upon them and you will not require extensive training or development in this area. In other words, you’re making their job, thus their life easier.
In an interview situation bring examples of written documentation to prove your skills. Make sure that there is no proprietary information from your current employer if this is for a new employer. If the interview is for a promotion or a better job with your current employer, don’t assume “they should know this already”, bring examples.
Some employers actually require a “writing test” in the interview process. How prepared are you: how are your vocabulary, spelling and grammar skills without a dictionary or Thesaurus? If you have this advantage; use it. If you don’t have it; get it! Obtain accurate and honest feedback for people who have these skills.

Practice makes perfect The more you do, the better you become with coaching. I have been writing professionally now for almost 15 years. As I go back to some of my earlier work I see my own progression and improvements. The information from my earlier works is still accurate; I’m conveying it more effectively. Read other people’s information to see who does a good job and ask them to help or coach you. Remember, the ultimate goal is to obtain satisfying employment. This is another avenue to achieve that goal.