Identifying Your Skills

What employers want – Communication Skills

Regardless of the type of job that is on offer, we all know that employers are looking for a fairly standard set of skills that allow candidates to be productive and work with colleagues and clients.

Knowing this gives you, the candidate, the edge.  But how do you use this information to your advantage.

This is another post about these skills and set you a task to help you respond to selection criteria or interview questions.  This task has two components.  After reading the post I would like you to reflect on how you have demonstrated that skill during 2020; and then turn that reflection into a story.  You will then be able to use your story in your application or interview.

Today’s skill is Communication

What are communication skills?

Communication has four elements – listening, speaking, reading and writing – and you need to be competent across all four elements. Communication skills is one of the broadest skills group categories because it can cover everything from having a conversation with a manager, colleague, client, supplier or other business related person, to writing a letter, a report, a memo, a business case or giving a presentation to a small work group or a full auditorium at the annual conference.

In essence communication is about the way you interact with other people, not just about sending messages, but also the way you hear the message and respond.  Communication is a two way process both in the verbal and written domains.

Verbal communication skills are used to

  • Resolve conflicts
  • Provide advice and guidance
  • Give instructions
  • Negotiate an outcome
  • Ask questions
  • Persuade
  • Explain a concept
  • Offer words of comfort
  • And so much more.

All jobs need communication skills – you may be required to:

  • Make sales calls
  • Respond to customer enquiries
  • Run a meeting
  • Provide advice
  • Interview job seekers
  • Negotiate services or prices
  • Write a report
  • Develop a case study
  • Draft an agenda and write the minutes
  • Undertake research and present your findings
  • Write a speech
  • Develop a press release.

Managers want to know that you have appropriate communication skills in relation to who your audience is and that you can prepare and present information appropriately to others.  You must be able to listen for meaning, seek understanding and respond appropriately as well as overcome any communication barriers.

So, what is your communication story?  When during the last year have you needed to communicate well?  How do you make a story from these experiences?

To get you started you might like to develop a response to one of the following potential interview questions:

  • Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult client who had made a complaint?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to explain something complex to somebody that had no knowledge of the subject matter?
  • Provide an example of a report that you wrote that contained advice or recommendations?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to get agreement from people outside of your team?
  • Describe a time when you had to correct a miscommunication?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to really listen for meaning.  Why was it important and what did you learn from the experience?

Use the SAO method to develop your experiences into a great story which you can recount at interview or place into your cover letter or selection criteria.  Your story should be specific enough that it provides sufficient detail for the interviewer/reader to understand:

Your framework is:

  • What the situation was
  • What action you took; and
  • What the outcome was.

Write it down and refine it.  Then save it away in your interview question database.

If you need help to develop your cover letter or selection criteria – contact me for assistance.


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