Communications and Employability

How to get employed and communicate better!

Personal Attributes valued by employers

There are a lot of personal attributes that employers look for in candidates for a job. These come in three categories:


Specific skills: Technical knowledge, health and safety, working attitudes

General Attributes: planning skills, organisational skills, time management, team working, verbal skills, written communication skills, numeracy and creativity

Attitudes: Determined, independent, integrity, tolerance, dependable, problem-solving, leadership, confidence and motivation


Specific skills

Skills such as technical knowledge are vital for a candidate to have. An employer needs to know if you have an understanding of what software and hardware is being used so that you can do the job effectively and efficiently. Health and safety is also a skill that is required since there are a lot of health risks in any working environment. The employer needs to know if you are able to make a safe working environment. This is done by tucking away wires or putting away equipment after use. A candidate needs to have good working attitudes to be able to get a job. If someone isn't motivated and determined to do the work as effectively as possible they have a lower chance of securing a job.


General Attributes

Employers look for different attributes in candidates. A lot of them are required to work in a technical environment. Planning and organisational skills are key for a candidate. This is because jobs must be done as efficiently as possible. Planning how something is going to be carried out can make things much more efficient. This is tied in with time management. Managing your time well can save you a lot of time for other projects or tasks and tasks would also be completed more effectively.


In some cases, a candidate may have to work in a team. For this, they need to be able to work with others to get a job done. Communication skills (whether that be verbal or written) are essential in a team task. Communicating with your co-workers is essential to find out what tasks need to be completed, when and how. Also, people need to know who is doing what so no one does the same task twice or gets confused as to what they are meant to be doing. Bad communication can mean that a task is done inefficiently and this could mean that the deadline is not met.


Numeracy is a key skill, no matter what job you are looking for. A person needs to have basic understanding of maths and must know how to divide, multiply, add and subtract to be able to work. The world revolves around numbers so having this key is essential. Creativity is also a good skill to have. This is because there will be meetings where people are asked to brainstorm new ideas. If a person is creative, they will be able to bring up a lot of ideas that could benefit an organisation.


Attitudes

There are many attitudes that people must have when looking for a job. A person must be determined and confident in their ability to show their skills and show that they have what it takes to carry out tasks and complete them effectively. A person must also be motivated to complete the tasks at hand. If they aren't they are more likely to leave things until the last minute and end up rushing things. This could lead to tasks being completed inefficiently and a lot of time being wasted.


People need to be independent when in a job. The employer needs to know that people can rely on themselves and be confident to do a task instead of constantly asking for assistance. However there will come a time when people need to work as a team on a huge task. This is where a person may need to show their leadership skills. This means they would have to communicate well with everyone and hand out tasks to the correct people. People need to be dependable. This ties in with leadership, as an employer needs to be able to depend on someone to lead a team to carry out a task. Problem solving is a key attribute. If a problem arises, a person needs to know the best way to solve the problem as effectively as possible.

Principles of Effective Communication

Communication is key in a business environment. There are three main principles of effective communication. These are:


General Communication skills: Cultural differences, adapting your voice and terminology, use of technology to engage audiences, Q&A

Interpersonal skills: Verbal exchanges, signing, lip reading, body language, use of intonation, positive/negative language, active engagement

Communication through writing: use of emoticons (whenever practical), letters, fax, emails, spelling and grammar, relevance, proofreading, taking notes


General Communication skills

When communicating with people, you need to take into account a lot of different factors. Cultural difference is a huge factor when communicating with other people. For example, if someone is on a business trip to an Asian country and they are from England, they might not know how to properly say hello to people and greet them, In some Asian countries, they don't use handshakes - they bow to each other. If one person went to shake the other's hand while the other person begins to bow, things instantly become awkward and this makes it harder to communicate. Knowing the cultural differences is a huge factor for international business trips.


Adapting your voice is something that you must be able to do. Some people can't understand what fast paced speakers are saying. This could be because they are not fluent in English. If you are communicating to someone who isn't fluent in english, you would have to slow down your voice so that they have an easier time understanding you. You would also have to change your terminology to something more simplistic. Some people don't know all of the technical words related to their field of work yet (this could be because they have just started) so you would need to speak with simpler terms when communicating with them.


Using technology to demonstrate what you are saying is great when communicating with an audience. For example, if you are showing a new product and it's features, you could use technology to show off the features to the audience and gain their attention. When talking to an audience you can also let them ask you questions about a new product so that they feel engaged and are able to find out little pieces of information that you would have otherwise left out.


Interpersonal skills

For communication to happen, two or more people must be present. Communication can be verbal or written, but messages are expressed through words, signs, signals and body/face expressions. Verbal exchanges are one of the main ways that people communicate. However those who cannot speak may sign a message. Deaf people can do this, but a lot of deaf people learn to read people's lips so they can still tell what the person is saying. Someone who has bad sight or is blind (or at the other end of a telephone line) can't see the other person's body language or facial expressions. The person can still hear pauses in speech and can sense emotion the the other person's tone of voice, and will identify emotion through intonation.


Body and face language can show a lot during communication. If someone has a raised voice, it shows more anger or impatience compared to a low tone of voice which shows fear or insecurity. Body language tells a lot, too. If someone has their arms folded this could show that someone is disappointed with another person. Leaning into someone while they are speaking can mean that you are interested and want to hear more.


Using positive language in a conversation is a good way to keep a conversation going and to make sure both people are interested. Using the word "yes" is a positive response to most questions. Negative language can make people think twice about carrying on about a conversation. Cutting in while someone is in the middle of speaking can be seen as irritating to everyone involved. Bad body language can act as a barrier to communication since people believe you aren't listening.


Communication doesn’t just happen when you are speaking: you can also communicate in several ways while the other person speaks. By paying attention and reacting to what the other person is saying (for example, with a nod or a frown) you are communicating that you hear what is being said.


Communicate in writing

Written communication is a lot different from verbal communication. It is a lot harder to show emotion through writing when writing formally (via a letter or business email). There could be templates that you have to use for emails and letters that the company or organisation says you must use.


Emoticons allow someone to show emotion in a written message. However, in most workplaces they are not permitted as they are seen as unprofessional. Emoticons are commonly used in text messages, internet forums and social networking sites.


It is important that any form of written communication is written using correct spelling and grammar. Mistakes make you look unprofessional and can also create confusion for the reader. There is software built in to Word Proofreading a letter can be beneficial so that you can check for spelling and grammar mistakes. While proofreading you can also check for any missing information or any incorrect information.


It is good to take notes with written communication, too. If you are handed a document that you need to remember certain pieces of information from, you may need to take notes. You can take notes by writing information on a seperate piece of paper, in the margins of a hard copy, or electronically by scanning the document onto the computer.

Barriers to Effective Communication

There are a lot of barriers to effective communication. Some of these are:


Background noise

Distractions

Physical barriers (walls, blockades/splitters)

Location

Lack of concentration


Background noise

Background noise can be a huge barrier to communication. If you are verbally speaking to someone face-to-face or over the phone and there is a lot of noise in the area, you would have problems hearing what the other person has to say. This could result in you taking the wrong information. Even the slightest background noise can distract a whole audience.


Distractions

Distractions such as someone entering a meeting late or leaving unexpectedly, or a mobile phone beeping, can be huge distractions and can interrupt the trail of thought of an audience. When this happens, the main speaker feels the need to repeat what they have said to make sure that everyone has heard the message.


Physical barriers

Physical barriers like walls or room splitters can stop communication. You can't effectively talk to someone through a wall or splitter, so this would mean you would have to move from your desk or workstation to talk to someone, which can be inconvenient.


Location

Your location can really affect communication. If you were talking to someone else across the room, you would have to raise your voice for them to hear you. This would be problematic as you would be distracting other people in the workspace. If you were trying to talk to someone in another building verbally, you would have to use a phone or take the time to go into the other building and speak to them, which can waste a lot of time.


Lack of Concentration

If an audience or someone you are speaking to isn't concentrating, information would not be relayed effectively. It is important to maintain concentration in a conversation so that the other person doesn't have to repeat themselves.


There are different mechanisms to reduce the impact of these barriers.

Background noise - Soundproof walls, designated meeting rooms/lecture rooms.

Distractions - Turn off all electricals that aren't in use or not needed so there is less noise distracting people, make sure no one interrupts a meeting.

Physical barriers - Have specific places to meet and talk to people about work.

Location - Have everyone in the same building or closer together.

Lack of concentration - Short conversations that get straight to the point.