Communication skills are especially critical in a virtual work environment.
By Robin Reshwan, Contributor
EXEMPLARY COMMUNICATION skills are a key selection criterion during the interview process – and they have grown in importance with the surge in remote work. Communication skills allow people to effectively exchange information, either verbally, nonverbally or through writing. These skills are especially critical when colleagues no longer have body language and other in-person visual cues to interpret your message.
Professionals with strong written and verbal communication skills are in high demand. Hiring companies are also looking for impact, which comes as a direct result of effective communication. Candidates who show how they use their written and verbal skills, in general and specifically to persuade and collaborate, give employers a much better gauge of qualifications.
Before you simply list “exemplary communication skills” on your resume, here are tips on how to reflect these must-have qualifications on your resume.
– Remote communication.
– Written communication.
– Verbal communication.
– Interpersonal collaboration.
– Analytical expression.
Remote interaction and meetings can be trickier for many to forge relationships and get maximum results, so capturing your comfort and success with these platforms is a must. Be sure to include how you have used communication tools such as Teams or Slack to support your value in virtual or remote work settings. It is also critical to show your comfort with video and conference call meetings and tools like Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts.
Your resume is the first sample of your writing – so make sure it is well written, well edited, concise and coherent. In addition to demonstrating excellent resume writing, look for opportunities to describe any written communication in your experience and the impact of your work. Show both what you did and why it is of value.
For example, have you updated training materials, handbooks, policies, or procedures that made the onboarding of new employees or customers more efficient? Do you compose the monthly newsletter, blog posts or other forms of internal or external updates that help to create an inclusive brand? Is your written analysis of data and reports used to make business decisions quickly? Do you create professional presentation decks that are a staple in board meetings?
The ways writing can impact results and daily operations are numerous. Capture how your written communication adds the most value to help a potential employer see how you could complement their team.
While the interview process will truly test your verbal communication, there are many options to weave verbal communication strengths into your resume. When thinking of verbal communication, most people limit their content to public speaking or presenting in front of large groups. However, for most professionals, the real value is the everyday verbal communication needed to update, guide and influence co-workers, managers, direct reports and customers.
Some often overlooked examples include your contributions in one-on-one, small group and/or common productivity and status check meetings. It is helpful for the reader to know if your experience is primarily in person or if you frequently communicate via phone, video or more formally hosted meetings. Be sure to include if (and how frequently) you present your insights and analysis verbally. In addition to highlighting the types of interactions, also show the positive impacts from your contribution.
According to a recent LinkedIn survey of most desired skills, persuasion is one of the five most in-demand soft skills that requires both written and verbal communication.
Persuasion is “changing a person’s (or a group’s) attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s), by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination of them,” according to Businessdictionary.com.
Your resume is an ideal place to show how your skills of persuasion make you an asset. For example, were you able to change a previously accepted practice or institute a new process that had a positive impact? Did you play a role in improving work culture or recruiting talented new employees? Did you convince management to invest in a new productivity tool even though it was not approved initially in the budget?
Any evidence of when you used your communication to achieve optimal results displays effective (and desired) persuasive ability.
Almost every job description lists “cross-functional collaboration” as either part of the role, a required qualification or both. “Collaboration” is the modern day “team player.” The ability to understand, exchange information and effectively work with a diverse range of colleagues and customers is a must-have communication skill.
To show your collaborative chops, both in-office and via virtual settings, examine your responsibilities and results through the lens of the people with whom you relate – i.e., those involved in the work you are describing. Some questions to ask: With whom do you meet to get the necessary information needed to produce monthly reports? Which departments set the service standards and update the customer relationship management content that you relied on to hit your criteria in your customer service role? Who attends the quarterly meetings for which you create the agenda, book the conference rooms and build out the slide deck?
As you draw attention to the range of colleagues, customers and stakeholders with whom you work, you create a multidimensional picture of your collaborative ability. Highlight how you interact with globally distributed teams. Coordinating schedules across time zones, communicating clearly with co-workers who have vastly different priorities, roles and even languages is a modern business challenge. A track record with complex communication that welcomes diverse viewpoints, beliefs and backgrounds is a highly desired qualification for every industry.
Data driven decision-making is an often requested competency for many roles today. While many people claim to use data to make informed decisions, your resume can be an opportunity to show how you use the insights you gain to influence or guide teams and decisions. Give examples of how you communicated your analysis – in reports, meetings, using graphics or presentation. Include the results of your assessments. Were key decisions made or best practices adopted? Show key questions you analyzed, how you shared your knowledge and what benefits your company or clients gained to help you prove this skill and stand out.
Communication is a deceptive word. It seems so simple, yet it has so many layers, forms and nuances. The great news is that many job seekers have highly developed communication qualifications; what they lack are specific examples of those strengths in action. To increase the effectiveness of your resume, expand on your written and verbal communication as well as how you persuade and collaborate. The quality of your communication skills will be assessed in your writing, your results and during your interview.