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Good Communication Skills? Apparently not!

One of my “cringe” phrases to read on a résumé is “good communication skills.” What does that even mean?

Liz Ryan, CEO of AskLizRyan.com, says, “Anyone who says he or she has ‘excellent communication skills’ evidently doesn't! Because, if you had them, you wouldn't use trite words to describe those skills. Instead of saying ‘strong communication skills’, say you built the company's newsletter from scratch. That fits within a bullet point and it says a lot about you.”

On a résumé, be sure you are giving concrete examples of your communication skills, such as documents you have created, presentations you have given, or results from your negotiations. Empty phrases like "excellent communication skills" just take up valuable real estate on your marketing piece and have no added benefit to the employer. Remember, on a résumé, be specific and think accomplishments over tasks or generic soft skills.

But communication skills go far beyond the résumé. Almost every part of our lives, from the job search to our work environment to social situations to family life, is influenced by how we communicate, verbally and nonverbally, with the words we choose to use and how we use them, with our body language, and with the communication tools we implement. Exercising the following communication tips may help you to be more effective and productive in life, work, and play.

  1. Be an active listener: we cannot understand what someone needs or wants if we are always thinking of our next response or if we assume we know what the speaker is going to say. Give people your undivided attention!
  2. Be mindful of what you want to say and how you will say it.
  3. Be genuine: no one wants to talk to someone who is fake, is looking past them to the next person, or has an agenda they are pushing.
  4. Be prepared: do your research, practice your responses to common questions, and know your audience.

Come learn more Communication Tips with a representative from Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina this Tuesday, August 27, 10:00-11:00am in the Business and Job Center. Topics include: how to effectively start a conversation, tell your story, promote your career brand, network in a crowd, and answer interview questions.

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