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  • Writer's pictureJohn J Lowe

Job descriptions and communication skills

Updated: Jun 1

When we read in the job description that the candidate needs ‘excellent communication skills’ we think, “What a shame. That rules me out as I’m more on the quiet, introvert scale.” Very often we interpret someone with good communication skills as one who is the life and soul of the party who can confidently stand up in front of people and talk spontaneously about most subjects.

Communication skills – what does it mean?

From my experience of interpreting job descriptions more often communication skills in our current technology-led environment mean emails, reports, analyses, interpretation, telephone conference calls and facilitating at meetings. Detail is king. The big picture concept has taken a back seat. In other words we know the destination and have an overview of the route but need the satnav to get us there.

Communication skills – we all have these

So do not be put off when you read advertisements which appear to over emphasise amazing communication skills. Read the detail and interpret the context for yourself. Does it incorporate training, advising, instructing, influencing and/or presenting? Is the audience internal or external, stakeholders or clients? Is the content for communication highly technical or of an easy interpretive nature?

Communication skills - examine their role

I am constantly reviewing job descriptions in preparation for generating an advertisement to be placed on the major job boards. I analyse the dominant tasks of the role and highlight the essential skills to perform the key responsibilities successfully. The advertisement will tell you how the role interacts with other functions and activities and for interactions substitute communication.

So in future interpret this communication skill factor in the context of its channel, application and context. And when you read an advertisement asking for a geek or nerd with amazing spontaneous communication skills you can be sue that this is not a realistic wish list.

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