Although it was published just over a year ago, Job Outlook 2016, published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, has something important to say to job seekers—especially those just out of school.
It’s this: know how to communicate verbally, inside and outside the organization. That ranks ahead of technical knowledge, the ability to plan, the ability to work on a team, the ability to analyze quantitative data—even above the ability to solve problems. The survey of 201 NACE employers asked that each skill on a list of 10 skills be given a value between 1 and 5. Verbal communication skills edged out every other category.
Now how can that be? Presentation Skills Expert Ellen Finkelstein suggests there are two reasons:
- Communication is important for most of the other skills employers seek
- Employers don’t see good verbal skills in their candidates today
“Believe me,” says Finkelstein, “if they saw great verbal communication skills they’d be worrying about something else.”
And that spells opportunity for the job seeker. If you master the skills of communication, you will have the edge on most other candidates. You will differentiate yourself. If you know how to make effective presentations—including presenting yourself effectively during in an interview—you will, in short, be distinctive.
Remember, marketers have for years practiced the art and science known as “positioning.” They determine where their brand exists in customers’ minds in comparison with competing brands. The goal of positioning is to make your brand distinctive—to make sure it’s nowhere close to anyone else’s brand.
So if most job candidates are lumped in the smart-but-can’t-communicate category, you need to be in the smart-and-can-communicate category.
You won’t have much company—and that’s the goal.