“Excellent communication skills.”
Admit it, this looks familiar. Chances are, you’ve used it in your resume.
As January rounds off, some of you may be looking to make the leap to greener pastures. Before you start mass-sending that resume from 2 years back, you might want to give it a bit of a polish.
One of the biggest ironies of self-marketing is to brand yourself as a “master communicator” on your resume yet communicate otherwise—putting such clichéd phrases on your personal marketing document (read: the very tool that is supposed to open doors of opportunity to your dream job, the paper pitch that will set the trajectory for the REST of your career) will not help set you apart very well.
Other no-no phrases include “effective communication skills”, “able to communicate effectively” and … you get the idea.
Resume writing is not about clearing the lowest bar, and great resume writing services are about setting yourself apart from the competition. But you can also DIY. Here’s 4 ways to actually show that you are, in fact, the “effective communicator” the job position is looking for, without mechanically slapping it onto your resume like 98% of job applicants.
1. WHO did you communicate with?
Do you interface with clients in your job? Squeeze as much value as you can into your description—instead of “Liaised with clients,” TRY “Liaised with Fortune 500 companies/ MNCs/ start-ups including A, B and C.”
Instead of “Led a sales team,” TRY “Motivated under-performing sales team toward achieving $20 mil sales target.”
Instead of “Delivered sales presentations,” TRY “Delivered sales presentations at national sales convention attended by over 3,000 participants.”
Other selling points and corresponding implications:
- If you collaborated with cross-functional teams in your work= adaptable, able to work in teams
- If you are a junior-level executive who has held dialogues/ discussions/ meetings with senior management executives = confidence, able to hold your on
- If you liaised with business partners across diverse nationalities/ languages= cultural awareness, able to bridge linguistic and racial differences.
2. WHAT did you communicate?
But merely stating who you communicated with is not enough. Revealing the type and complexity of information you conveyed will add weight to your resume by indicating the depth of your expertise.
If you are an IT consultant, don’t just say, “Pitched proposals to clients,” TRY “Communicated complex $3 mil business solutions to potential client.”
Or, if you are on the change management force, don’t just say “Successfully migrated entire department to new system,” TRY “Built consensus among 40-odd staff members in successful implementation of new work system.”
Perhaps you are an educator. Instead of “Discussed students’ progress with parents,” TRY “Identified learning difficulties/ areas of improvements with parents and created more effective teacher-parent collaborations.
3. WHY did you have to do that, and what was the difference made?
Giving context to your content provides the significance of your communication skills. What was the situation that necessitated your sterling communication skills? What was at stake? How did you impact the organization you worked at?
Instead of “Liaised with client on ABC project,” TRY “Successfully salvaged a major account from being terminated by client due to ABC project mismanagement by former project manager.”
Instead of “Managed client relationships,” TRY “Managed client relationships: successfully allayed supply concerns post-Fukushima nuclear disaster; retained all accounts.”
The more succinctly you come across on paper, the more convincing your professional profile is to the hiring manager. Stick to the pointers above, and you’ll not need to resort to eye-rolling, over-used phrases like “strong communicator” or “excellent interpersonal skills” to get your message across. You’ll also give the hiring manager or recruiter a break.
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