It seems like every job description on the planet lists “strong communication skills” in the requirements section. And dropping “great communication skills” onto your resume doesn’t seem like it’s doing the trick. With the increased focus on emotional intelligence in the workplace, employers are looking to add great communicators to their teams even more than before. So what’s the best way to demonstrate your communication skills to hiring managers?
Why do communication skills matter so much?
Communication is the grease between the gears of any high-performing business machine. The passage of relevant information from one team member to another is vital. Communication is key to meeting deadlines, reaching goals, and creating a healthy, productive work environment.
Because of this, employers want to be sure that they’re hiring someone who will succeed at their company and help improve productivity. There’s also concern about hiring poor communicators. These are people who (wittingly or not) create bottlenecks and cause confusion, resulting in tension within the team. Which is exactly why “great communication skills” appears in almost every job posting. It’s a vital skill across all industries and for any job title – from entry level to C-suite.
And despite this skill being so important, there’s really no way to truly capture the strength of your communication skills on a resume. Luckily, we’ve got some workarounds for you! Here are 5 ways that you can demonstrate your strong communication skills while job searching.
Use Active Listening
The basis of all good communication is listening. It is the foundation that all your other communication skills are built on! Active listening is the art of fully paying attention to what someone is telling you. Compare it to passive listening, where you’re only listening so you can start talking again. When you listen actively, you’re giving your full attention to the person talking. Active listening uses multiple senses, often signaling in different ways that you’re both processing and understanding the information being shared.
Use active listening both during your phone screen and onsite interview. When on the phone, give occasional verbal cues that encourage the hiring manager to continue. Accomplish this simply saying “yes” and expressing interest. Do it without cutting in before they’ve finished their thought. During your onsite interview, signal your genuine interest in the discussion by leaning in slightly when someone is speaking to you, nodding your head, and smiling when appropriate.
Ask Smart Questions
What better proves that you were using your active listening skills than a thoughtful question? Great questions not only show that you were paying attention, but they show that you’ve processed the information and what to expand and contribute to the discussion.
While listening, it’s perfectly fine to make a mental note of a question you’d like to ask the hiring manager. You can highlight this skill over the phone, in person, or via email when following up. Smart questions show that you were paying attention and subtly shows off your analytical thinking skills.
Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication that signals interest and engagement. When you meet your interviewers in person, make sure to look them in the eye. It helps build connection and trust.
Like most things in life, it’s about balance. Don’t over- or underdo. Constantly locking eyes is aggressive and will put people on edge, while avoiding their gaze will make you appear distracted or uninterested. Even though you don’t say a single word, your body language speaks volume about your ability to communicate.
Practice Emotion Control
It’s totally normal to feel flustered or stumble during an interview. The best thing you can do is remain calm, cool, and collected. It’s possible that your interviewer says something that you strongly disagree with. But letting your emotions spiral is a signal to employers that you can’t work well under pressure or handle criticism. Instead of breaking down or flying off the handle, take a deep breath and remember that it’s just a conversation.
It’s also totally fine to be nervous – it’d be a little strange if you weren’t, honestly! Showing some emotion during an interview is fine. Just don’t swing to either end of the emotional spectrum. Sharing positive authentic emotions (like excitement about the role) will help you form a bond with your interviewer.
The best way to grow is from honest, constructive feedback. After your interview, follow up with a thank you note. In your note, ask for feedback on how you did. This move establishes your desire to grow. And your ability to handle criticism! Both of which employers care about because they are invested in hiring people who can stay with the company long-term.
And if you receive a rejection email? It’s still good to ask for feedback on why you weren’t selected. Feedback gives insight on how you can improve your chances of landing other opportunities. No one likes rejection, but asking for feedback still gives you an opportunity to grow from the experience.
Make sure you’re doing more to prove your communication skills than just adding it to your resume. While there are many ways to highlight the strength of your communication, you can’t go wrong with these five. Active listening, good questions, positive body language, keeping calm, and asking for feedback all ways to demonstrate your communication skills while job searching.