Effective Communication as a Strategy for Recent Grads to Get Hired
Acing all of your courses and getting an honors degree from an A-list university will not help you to get hired or to stay hired if you cannot assimilate information and communicate ideas. Effective communication involves more than just formatting your resume with the latest eye-grabbing tricks, loading a PowerPoint presentation with reams of facts and data, or writing multi-page business proposals that lose the reader after the first few paragraphs. Recent grads may be fortunate enough to land an interview with their preferred employers, but the grads that master communication will be more likely to get hired because effective oral and written communication is a critical strategy for getting hired in marketing or any other field.
Recent grads can focus on the following five skills to improve their oral and written communication abilities.
1. Write, and write some more.
In his autobiography, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, (http://stephenking.com/library/nonfiction/on_writing_a_memoir_of_the_craft.html)Stephen King observes that "if you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." Writing is a skill, and as with any other skill, you can improve your writing ability and your ability to communicate through your writing by practicing your craft. This may be an unpleasant reality for recent grads who had hoped to leave research papers and essays behind them after they graduated, but there is no substitute for practice. Grads who are looking for their first professional jobs can place this suggestion into practice by writing different cover letters and resumes to prospective employers. For a more creative approach, recent grads who are looking for marketing jobs can prepare marketing presentations that "sell" themselves to those employers. Writing practice should also continue after a recent grad receives that coveted job offer.
2. Learn to love self-editing
Writers take joy in creating written communications but then are often loath to change their first drafts. Effective communication requires a writer to put his or her first draft aside and then to return to it after the writer's ideas have settled and shaped themselves. This gives the writer an opportunity to recognize repetitions, grammar inconsistencies, and wordy or convoluted sentences. Recent grads who are seeking a marketing position should edit out superfluous passages that distract from the concepts they are attempting to communicate. Other self-editing tricks include focusing on the big picture over minor details, eliminating overused words, and developing rhythm through the details in the written communication. (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/insight-from-editor-tips-for-self-editing.html)
3. Speak in complete sentences.
A recent grad might look stellar on paper, but if that grad cannot speak clearly or communicate an idea through an oral presentation, his or her marketing career will be short-lived. Some recent grads suffer from a very common fear of speaking before an audience. Others have trouble articulating and idea or responding to questions and comments extemporaneously. Like writing, speaking, and making oral presentations are skills that a recent grad can develop and improve. Recent grads should think about oral presentations that have engaged them and identify the elements in those presentations that appealed to them. For practice, they can join and participate in local Toastmasters organizations (https://www.toastmasters.org/). Taking a video of an oral presentation and them watching that video, either alone or with a trusted coach, can help a recent grad identify strengths and weaknesses in his or her oral presentation skills. Those skills may do more to get a grad through a job interview than a handful of good grades in marketing courses.
4. Be careful of body language.
This principle is almost a cliche: non-verbal communication is as critical as written and oral communication. Recent grads who fidget, slouch, or fail to make eye contact during an interview will leave a negative impression that prevents them from landing their dream job. A self-video will help a grad to recognize counterproductive body language mannerisms. Apart from studying that video, the simplest technique to control body language is to mirror a more calm and collected person who is in the room. Developing a broader sense of self-awareness is also effective. (http://www.wisebread.com/you-are-what-you-do-16-ways-to-improve-your-body-language)
5. Know your audience.
A written proposal or oral presentation to a group of potential customers will be different from a technical presentation to engineers. Likewise, a who is seeking a new position should do research on the levels of contact in a prospective employer and then tailor his or her cover letter and resume to that contact's interests. This can be difficult at the first threshold, which is now often little more than HR applicant screening software that filters resumes for keywords and skills. Complicated resume formats with multiple headers or footers will jam HR screening algorithms, and a simpler resume will be more likely to clear this threshold. Resumes that mimic the language of a job description will also be more likely to get noticed. Recent grads may need to dig deeper to find someone in the company who can be an advocate to advance the grad's resume to higher levels and provide guidance on the keywords that a screening program will seek. (https://biginterview.com/blog/2015/03/applicant-tracking-system.html)
A recent grad's ability to get hired for a coveted marketing position or any other function might appear to be a function of good luck and random events, but all grads can shift that luck and those events in their favor by focusing on effective communication strategies. A continued focus on improving communication skills will then help that grad to advance his or her career in every conceivable job function and industry.