What Does “Excellent Communication Skills” Mean on a Resume?

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If you are an employer who has experience hiring new personnel, you have likely seen your fair share of “Excellent Communication Skills” thrown into the SKILLS section of applicants’ resumes. Likewise, applicants feel compelled to add it there because of job descriptions that read, “Must have excellent communication skills.” Unfortunately, there is often a canyon between what an employer means by excellent communication skills and what an applicant means.

Both parties typically mean the applicant can present themselves well and through speech can demonstrate proper use of the English language. Unfortunately, this expectation is then laced with a slew of implications that may or may not apply to the applicant or the position. The employer understands the inner workings of their organization, company culture, colleague dynamics, and other nuances not found in the job description of which the applicant has minimal to no awareness. Yet, they know the candidate they desire must already possess the communication skills needed to fit right into the culture to achieve company objectives. The applicant however, based on prior knowledge of the desired position, likely believes their ability to verbally communicate will be enough to start working and any additional communication skills needed can be acquired on the job.

To not get caught up in this misrepresentation, let me just offer a tip. A far better way for employers and applicants alike to articulate their desired and acquired communication skills level is to specifically detail the skill application rather than use an umbrella phrase like “excellent communication skills.” Such communication skill applications may include “the ability to verbally convey company products or services to consumers,” or “pleasant telephone etiquette and telephone customer service,” or “able to present in front of a variety of audiences with confidence.” By offering a clear, targeted communication application, employers are able to have fewer questions about an applicant’s communication ability and applicants are able to spotlight a skill they possess that is strongly relevant to their desired position.

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