List of Communication Skills for Resumes

Two businesswomen discussing plans
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Regardless of the job you're applying for, employers will expect you to have excellent written and verbal communication skills. Depending on the position, you will need to be able to communicate effectively with employees, managers, and customers in person, online, in writing, and on the phone.

How to Showcase Your Communication Skills

Employers look for applicants with superior written and verbal communication skills for almost every job they hire for. What's the best way to show them you have what they need?

Your cover letter will often be the first place an employer will review your writing abilities. In addition to demonstrating your grammar skills, you will also be showing how you can compose a letter that is to the point and, hopefully, interesting to read. Take the time to write a quality cover letter that focuses on your most relevant skills for the job.

A face-to-face or phone interview is where you will demonstrate your verbal communication skills. Are you comfortable talking with people in different types of settings? If you know this is not your strong point, be sure to prepare for the interview in advance. The more practice you have, the easier it will be to demonstrate how well you can communicate. 

And, as with any other skill set, your communication abilities are demonstrated by your professional history. In your application materials and your interview, you can draw attention to how your prior experiences exemplify your communication skills.

Some jobs require different skills than others, so review the job posting to see what the employer is seeking in applicants. Then take the time to match your credentials to the job requirements, so you can show the employer you're a strong match for the job.

Finally, as you scan the job posting, highlight the specific qualifications and skills mentioned there and then be sure to incorporate these keyword phrases into both your cover letter and your resume. Although doing this may seem like unoriginal “parroting” of the job listing’s language, many employers now utilize applicant tracking systems that are programmed to rank job applications based on the number of targeted keywords they incorporate. You’ll find lists of the most commonly searched resume keywords in the sections below.

Review this list of in-demand communication skills you can highlight in your application materials and job interviews.

Top Communication Skills for Resumes

••• © The Balance, 2018

1. Written Communication
Writing well is a major component of your professional presentation. Many people who cannot write well are very talented in many other ways, but people often mistake an inability to write well with a lack of intelligence. Poor writing not only makes exchanges of ideas and information less efficient, but it also makes you look bad more quickly than almost anything else. Learning to write well has an important side effect; because clear, readable text is also well-organized, straightforward, and concise, learning to write also teaches you to speak and to think better.

Related Resume Keywords: Advertising, Business Storytelling, Content Management, Content Strategy, Correspondence, Editing, Emailing, Microsoft Office, Speech Writing, Technical Writing, Writing.

2. Verbal Communication
Verbal (also called “oral”) communication skills are essential for those with jobs in a traditional workplace and for employees whose tasks include extensive use of telephones. While verbal communications talents are probably most important for those in sales, customer service, and public relations roles, anyone who has to interact face-to-face with supervisors and work colleagues needs to be able to express themselves clearly and succinctly.

Related Resume Keywords: Articulating, Clarity, Concision, Convincing, Explaining, Multilingual, Negotiating, Persuasive, Presentation, Promoting, Public Speaking, Speaking, Telephone, Verbal Communication.

3. Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication includes vocal tone, eye contact patterns, body language, and more. Nonverbal communication often carries more information than speech and has a much greater impact on rapport and trust. Learn the nonverbal signals you need to present yourself well. And if you have non-standard body language (for example, if you are on the autism spectrum or have a physical disability), you will have to find ways to avoid or correct misunderstanding.

Related Resume Keywords: Confidence, Expression, Life Skills, Listening, Quick Thinking, Visualizing.

5. Friendliness and Respect
Simple friendliness, politeness, and respect go a long way to create rapport and improve communication. Part of this is simply being kind and considerate with everyone. Say “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” as needed. Remember to ask people how they’re doing and listen to the answer. Remember birthdays and preferences—take notes if you need to. But some signs of respect are culturally variable and not always intuitive. You have to learn those as you go.

Related Resume Keywords: Collaboration, Conflict Management, Courteous, Diplomacy, Empathy, Friendliness, Interpersonal, Motivation, Open-Mindedness, Social, Team Building, Teamwork.

6. Picking the Right Medium
Communication can be in person, by snail-mail, by email, by telephone, through text message, or by video. Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages, and each adds something different to the message you are trying to convey. Some messages are better suited to particular media than others. For instance, most people prefer to have bad news delivered in person. But people also vary widely in how they respond to different media.

For example, people who lack confidence in their written communication prefer talking on the phone. Others prefer the slower, more thoughtful pace of email and actively avoid phones.

You, of course, have your preferences, but part of communicating well is being able to identify the preferred medium of the other person for any given situation and be versatile enough to use it.

Communicating well is one of those abilities that is often overlooked, and yet those who have it are at a substantial advantage to those who are not. Fortunately, many communication skills can be learned.

Related Resume Keywords: Artistic, Brainstorming, Creative Thinking, Imagination, Logical Thinking, Marketing, Social Media.