Developing the skills graduate employers really want – Communication

  January 11, 2017

Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?

We've all been there, that embarrassing phone call on the train when whoever you're calling suddenly goes silent on the other end of the line. Even in this day and age, with all the tools available to us, communication is hard, harder in fact because of all of the ways we now have to communicate. For many graduates, talking face to face or even on the phone is quickly becoming and outdated form of communication, we generally prefer to use text or e-mail, and while these are commonly used in business, the best outcomes still come from speaking to people in person, because this is the best way to make sure we fully understand what is being said. Too much information can be lost or misinterpreted via text, but when you can use the tone of voice, and body language, getting to the true meaning of what someone says is much easier.

That being said, being a great communicator is about being clear and concise, no matter what medium you use. You need to think about your audience and what they already know (or don't know), and how to make things plain without being patronising. In a university presentation for example you wouldn't explain what psychology is to a psychology professor, but you might if you were presenting to a astrophysicist. In business it's the same thing, if you're an accountant talking to other accountants you would speak much more jargon than if you were talking to the IT team.

Good communication is also a two way process; you can never be sure that what you've said has been interpreted as you intended by the other person, so make sure you encourage discourse and questioning. It may seem annoying at first when you have to explain something one hundred times to someone, but trust us, that's far less annoying that having to explain to your boss why something wasn't done the way it was meant to be.

While we all communicate on a daily basis, this really is one skills where some people excel and others struggle; good communication doesn't come naturally to everyone, so if you are someone who knows they struggle to get their point across, or just point blank hates talking to people, you need to be aware of this. If this is the case, finding ways to develop this skill is essential, and while it may never be something you love to do, no matter what line of work you end up in, being able to communicate with others will be vital, so find ways to improve however you can – practise what you're going to say before sharing important information, write a script, send an e-mail to clarify salient information; whatever helps you will help others, and don't be afraid to tell people that you find communication tricky, most people will make extra effort to help if you just tell them.

Not sure if you're a natural communicator? Complete your HappyWork profile and find out, and get matched to a range of jobs that suit your communication style.