Interpersonal skills, motivation, ability to work in teams, creativity, honesty, and organizational skills – these soft skills matter to employers! They matter to the extent that some employers would rather hire candidates with weak hard skills and strong soft skills rather than the opposite.
When forced to rank them by importance, employers say that communication is the most important soft skill a new graduate can have. Given this, how can we improve our communication skills and prepare ourselves to show off these skills in our video resumes and interviews?
I’ve selected a few very wise people in my life that have superb communication skills and noticed that they have a few things in common. Think about the people in your life with outstanding communication skills and maybe you’ll note the same things too:
- They are honest and open-minded in their communication. Most of these people are great leaders in their field, yet they’re not afraid to admit when they don’t have all of the answers. They can honestly admit when they are at a loss for an answer or when they made a mistake. They’re not afraid to brainstorm out loud. They’re not afraid of receiving constructive criticism. And they don’t inflate or exaggerate (or they will at least preface a statement by telling me that they are going to exaggerate). In short, they are people that I can reliably count on to tell me how it is. Good leaders have open and honest communication skills; good leaders do not always have the right answer.
- They listen even when I’m not speaking. Somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. We all know that good communicators are good listeners, but great communicators are also good at picking up on non-verbal communication too. Body language is an incredibly powerful way to speak. Being attentive to the gestures, expressions, postures, and eye movements of those around us is imperative to understanding what they’re thinking and feeling. It is also important to be aware of our own body language signals in order to understand the potential impressions that we may be sending to employers or others.
- They are empathetic. This empathy comes as a byproduct of the way that great communicators listen. They do not just listen to words. They engage with them. When great communicators listen to a story, they visualize it happening, image themselves in the situation, and engross themselves in the setting. When you take listening to this level, it makes sense that empathy comes as a byproduct.
So what about yourself? Can you say that these three statements are true for you? If so, great work on your communication skills thus far. If not, keep these three tips in mind as you continue to improve your communication and other soft skills.
Regardless of what stage you are at, start creating your video resume today as a way to help gauge which areas of communication you need to work on the most.