A successful job search is a match between what an employer wants and what a candidate wants. That match is made based on what is communicated. While an interview is structured a specific way, at its core it is a communication between job seeker and employer. While networking has its standards and rules of etiquette, at its core it is about communicating via listening, speaking, writing, and so forth.
The six-step process will give you the tactics that are particular to interviewing, networking, and other job search–specific communications, but the successful job seeker needs to have solid overall communication skills in place in the following areas:
Communication occurs at every stage of the job search.
Table 2.1 Communication Skills Needed for Each Step of the Job Search
|Job Search Step||Written||Verbal||Presentation||Listening|
|1. Identify Your Target||In the introspective work||In articulating your interests||To advice you are getting|
|2. Create A Powerful Marketing Campaign||In the creation of your material||In your networking pitch||In the design of your material and sample portfolio||To responses to your pitch and other marketing|
|3. Conduct In-Depth Research||To keep track of your information||To gather information||To information shared|
|4. Network and Interview||For scheduling, note-taking during meetings, and thank-yous||Before, during, and after meetings and interviews||During specialized interviews||During meetings and interviews|
|5. Stay Motivated and Organized and Troubleshoot Your Search||To keep track of your data||During support group and mentor meetings||To support and feedback|
|6. Negotiate and Close the Offer||For offer letter revisions||To advocate for what you want||To close the deal with senior management||To employers’ needs, wants, and constraints|
You need communications skills for more than understanding and developing rapportCamaraderie, ease, familiarity. You have developed rapport with someone when they feel comfortable around you. with prospective employers. You will also need communication skills on the job, so the way you communicate in your search is a sign of the way you might communicate on the job.
Many employers also look at communication skills in general as a proxy for attention to detail. If you are sloppy with your job search communication—leaving rambling voice mails, sending e-mails with typos or grammatical mistakes—then you likely do this on the job. Why should employers assume you will be more careful after you get the job? If you don’t double-check your communication now, you probably won’t start once you are hired.
Finally, your communication skills underscore your logic and reasoning. If your interview responses are scattered or unrelated, that could be a sign your thought process isn’t logical or structured. If you can’t get to the point in regular conversation, maybe you bring this disorganized reasoning to your work.
Look at your history to see your current communication strengths and weaknesses, so you know where you need to focus as you prepare for a job search. If you know that you are better at written over verbal communication, you might choose e-mail over phone calls in situations that call for either approach (e.g., when you try to get a networking meeting). But you can’t avoid a method of communication entirely, so the verbally challenged should allot extra time to practice interviewing and perhaps take the time away from drafting cover letters, which play to their writing strength. For someone with more verbal than written strengths, they will structure their search differently—practicing different areas and budgeting more time in weak areas that may take longer to strengthen.
If you have already selected job targets, incorporate the communication requirements for your target as you plan your job search process. Some fields, such as education, law, sales, consulting, and public relations, heavily emphasize communication, so each and every correspondence has extra weight. Your job search communication becomes a proxy for your potential communication on the job.
The communication requirements may influence the structure of the process. For communication-focused fields, a presentation as part of the interview process may be required. For other fields that are not communication heavy, such as accounting or IT, you likely will not do a presentation (you may for senior roles, but not generally). Start brushing up on presentation skills now if your job search may specifically require this.
Now you know the general ways communication skills enter the job search equation, as well as specific ways that different fields may use communication skills to evaluate potential job candidates. With the importance of communication skills in mind, you can deliberately focus and practice to improve your communication skills: