Why communication skills matter to everyone

Hired!

I don’t remember how long ago it was, but I remember a friend telling me about the local newspaper having two openings at the time. They had 104 positions in the newsroom at the time. For those two openings, they received 120 resumés.

If you don’t already know it, resumés are not really for getting a job; they are for eliminating candidates. If you make it through to the interview stage, you are qualified for the job, and so is everyone else who makes it through. I’m not saying the skills are unimportant. I’m saying that if they’re talking to you, it’s a given that you have the skills (at least on paper). So the decision about whom to hire will hinge on other factors.

For those two positions with the 120 resumés, they were able to eliminate about 60 of them right off the bat as not being qualified–mostly for not having the requisite experience. But that still left 60 or so candidates for two positions, and all 60 were qualified.

So they made the final decision on whom to hire based on the candidates’ likelihood to fit into the existing newsroom–to get along with their peers, to carry their weight, to be professional with colleagues and with the public.

Skills matter. But they’re not enough. You have to be able to effectively communicate about what you do. People who can do what needs doing are plentiful. People who can exercise the skill and work well with the team and the public are much rarer. Which do you think will help you more?

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Author: Donn King

Donn King works with people who want to forge top-notch speaking skills to increase their influence and impact so they can advance their career or business. He is associate professor of communication studies at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.