You need to be able to express yourself concisely to impress graduate recruiters, but you also need to be a good listener and be confident enough to ask questions. Communication is more of a package than an individual skill:
- Communication is not just what you say; it is also how you present yourself.
- Being able to phrase the right questions is an important skill.
- Not saying too much is also part of good communication.
- Understanding your audience and tailoring what you say is essential to graduate job hunters’ success.
How to develop communication skills while studying for your degree
Your aim is to become used to communicating with different audiences and changing your style as appropriate – so seek out any opportunities that require interactions with others. For example:
- Take up a public-facing or customer service part-time job.
- Volunteer: for example, befriending elderly people or helping children learn will significantly help your communication skills.
- Undertake a communications role for a student society, such as managing the society’s social media feeds.
- Join a communications-based student society, such as debating societies, comedy clubs, acting groups, student newspapers or student radio.
- Write a blog or make videos.
- Don’t avoid giving a presentation as part of your coursework or during a seminar.
- Identify confident public speakers – for example, through watching TED Talks – and observe the techniques they use.
How graduate employers assess your communication skills
Graduate employers will assess your written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills during applications and interviews.
Different employers will place more importance on different aspects of communication, and some might surprise you; researching the role you are applying for thoroughly will give you an idea of which aspect to focus on.
How to demonstrate your communication skills on your CV, covering letter or application form
If you are applying via a CV and covering letter or are answering an application form question, you are composing a written argument for why an employer should hire you – or at least interview you. Your communication skills will partly be judged by how effectively you make that argument.
This means that you will need to make sure that your CV, covering letter and/or answers to application form question are tailored to the role. That is, you should provide evidence of the skills the employer seeks and, in your covering letter or in answer to an application question about why you are applying, demonstrate that you have researched the role and the employer. The effectiveness of your argument will also be gauged on what information about yourself you choose to include, how much importance you give it and how you express it.
How to demonstrate your non-verbal face-to-face communication skills
Your ability to communicate well will be one of the most noticeable things about you during the interview and assessment day process – and this includes how you act as well as what you say. So, smile and make eye contact. Shake hands and remember names. Prepare some ‘small talk’ and questions to ask graduate employees and the assessors. Be supportive of any other candidates, as recruiters will want to see that you are able to get on with others.
How to demonstrate your communication skills in a presentation
If you are asked to give a presentation, your communication skills will be judged by: what you say and how; how you organise and order your points; and the content and creativity of any slides. Pay attention to all three aspects, making sure that your argument is persuasive, your delivery style engaging, and your slides are attractive and contain the right amount of information (ie that they summarise or illustrate your points nicely while being easy to read). Practise your presentation in front of an audience as many times as is necessary to ensure a confident delivery.
Our upcoming event gradireland Live! will have workshops and networking opportunities that are the perfect way to put into practise what you have learned. Keep an eye on our events page for further details.