Communication gaps can create a world of problems whether they occur in the work place or in the process of finding a job. While conversational skills are a valuable asset, communication in the professional world can take many forms. If you aren’t experienced or trained in how to handle these interactions, it could reflect poorly on you in the application process or put you in the bad graces of your employer.
In the first part of our three-part series concerning “The Job Search,” we looked at simple ways you can become more efficient in seeking out a job. In the second part, we’ll look at some steps you can take to improve your communication skills in ways that will benefit you throughout your career–whether gainfully employed or on the market for a new position. And for recent grads or upperclassmen getting an education online, a few simple communication tips can give them a big advantage over other job seekers and help them avoid common mistakes.
Keeping communication direct and succinct
People are busy, and their time is valuable. As a job seeker and as an employee, you need to recognize that others around you are probably pressed for time during the course of their day. Communication is essential, but efficiency is highly valued by other professionals.
Although job seekers can benefit from showing their personality to prospective employers, cover letters and other written correspondence aren’t the time to do it. Being professional, direct and efficient will give the impression that you are an economical worker who understands the time constraints of others. Similarly, emails and other text-based communication should stick to the hard facts. Don’t waste time cracking jokes or trying to show off your wry sense of humor–personality is often hard to convey in writing, so it’s best left alone.
Taking notes to organize thoughts and discussions
In meetings, take time to write down key talking points and other topics you would like to discuss or address. Note-taking does two things: First, it keeps your head in the conversation and makes you a more engaged participant. But it also helps you organize key issues and subjects and gives you a road map for addressing them, whether that involves reaching out to other professionals and co-workers, having follow-up conversations with your boss or doing some research on your own. Communication is nothing more than hot air if it isn’t used to make progress, so put it down into writing and let your notes guide your actions.
Notes are also great during the interview process, allowing you to give yourself prompts for follow-up and keep track of important information.
Tracking conversations and communications
Keeping track of conversations, correspondence and other communications is always tricky–especially when you’re looking for a job and talking to dozens of leads every week. For job seekers, the best approach is to log every conversation and communication in a spreadsheet–this will make it easy to see where follow-ups are needed and what opportunities haven’t been seized upon.
In the workplace, keeping track of emails and writing notes as reminders of meetings or to-do’s brought up during verbal communications is the most effective way to keep track of the tasks resulting from conversations and correspondence.
If you tend to be flighty and forgetful, communication woes can be particularly frustrating and embarrassing. Employing organizational strategies is often the best way to make the most of your interactions and ensure you don’t overlook any important duties. And understanding the best approaches to communicating with current and potential employers will help you stand out among the crowd and earn the appreciation of your higher-ups.
About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.