When it comes to getting hired, there is one crucial skill a recent college graduate needs regardless of his chosen field. Employers are looking for recent grads with strong oral and interpersonal communication skills, according to a study published online on May 25 in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly. Your talking skills might just land you the job.
This does not mean that employers overlook an employee’s other skills, but about one-third of them prioritized stronger verbal skills more than visual, electronic or written communication skills. This may be due to the usage of oral skills in all aspect of a job.
“We talk a lot more than we write and we talk almost subconsciously; it’s just something we have to do to get work done,” says lead author Tina Coffelt, an assistant professor of communication studies and English at Iowa State University. “The other forms of communication are more focused, more strategic. Certainly, some of oral communication is strategic as well, but the day-to-day work of talking on the telephone, with a co-worker down the hall or a customer who walks into a store – there’s just more oral communication.”
On the other hand, electronic skills, which include using email and phones, only ranked second among the most valued skills. Employers rarely look for visual communication skills, possibly because it is not that important in many jobs or it may be due to the fact that it only supports other forms of communication.
The researchers recommend educators to offer online quizzes or additional assignments that entail grammar rules or correct sentence structure. Nevertheless, some universities in the US, including the Iowa State University, have begun to combine oral, written, visual and electronic communication lessons into one course.
The findings are gathered from 52 employers in health sciences, social work, business, and engineering. Their responses included the type, frequency and manner of communication a new entry-level employee or an intern would use during the whole workday.