Important Communication Skills for Resumes & Cover Letters

Two businesswomen using their communication skills to discuss plans.
••• Ezra Bailey / Getty Images

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.

As with any other skill set, your communication abilities are demonstrated by your professional employment 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.

What Are Communication Skills?

It may seem simple enough to say, “I know how to communicate.” However, those with little experience communicating with people from different walks of life don’t realize how complicated communication can be.

How many times have you ever said or written something to someone that they took the wrong way? This happens in the workplace all the time. The best employers need leaders that can exercise care in their ability to listen and respond to customers and fellow employees.

Employers look for applicants with superior written and verbal communication skills for almost every job they hire for.

Types of Communication Skills

© The Balance, 2018

Written Communication

Writing well is a major component of your professionalism. Many talented people often do not write well. Poor writing not only makes an exchange of ideas and information less efficient, but it also makes you look unintelligent. 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.

  • Advertising 
  • Business Storytelling
  • Content Management
  • Content Strategy
  • Correspondence
  • Editing
  • Emailing
  • Microsoft Office
  • Speech Writing
  • Technical Writing 
  • Writing

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 communication skills are probably most important for those in sales, customer service, and public relations, anyone who has to interact face-to-face with supervisors and colleagues needs to be able to express themselves clearly and succinctly.

  • Articulating
  • Clarity
  • Concision
  • Convincing
  • Explaining
  • Multilingual
  • Negotiation
  • Persuasive
  • Presentation
  • Promoting
  • Public Speaking
  • Telephone Etiquette

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication includes vocal tone, eye contact patterns, body language, and more. Nonverbal communication often carries more weight than verbal communication 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.

  • Confidence
  • Expression
  • Life Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Quick Thinking
  • Visualization
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Emotional Intelligence

Reconciliation and Conflict Management

Simple friendliness, politeness, and respect go a long way to create rapport and improve communication. Part of conflict management is simply being kind and considerate with everyone so that they can model your behavior. Say “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” as needed. Remember to ask people how they’re doing and listen to their answer. As the workplace becomes more diverse, conflict management is a communication skill increasingly sought after.

  • Collaboration
  • Courtesy
  • Diplomacy
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Negotiation
  • Empathy
  • Friendliness
  • Interpersonal
  • Motivation
  • Open-Mindedness
  • Social Skills
  • Team Building
  • Teamwork

Communication Mediums

Communication can be in person, “snail-mail,” email, telephone, through text message, or 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 prefer to avoid phones.

You have your own preferences, but part of communicating well is being able to identify the preferred medium of the other person for any given situation.

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.

  • Artistry
  • Creative Thinking
  • Imagination
  • Logical Thinking
  • Social Media
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Mobile Devices

More Communication Skills

  • Brainstorming
  • Marketing
  • Versatility
  • Flexible
  • Encouragement
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Negative Reinforcement
  • Psychology
  • Mentoring
  • Human Resources
  • Leadership
  • Specific
  • Vocal Tone
  • Coaching
  • Interviewing
  • Teaching
  • Integration
  • Project Management
  • Research
  • Mediation
  • Paraphrasing
  • Approachability
  • Integrity
  • Bearing
  • Moderator
  • Biometrics
  • Lie Detection

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add Relevant Sales Skills to Your Resume: As you scan the job posting, highlight the specific qualifications and skills mentioned and be sure to incorporate those keyword phrases into your resume.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: Take the time to write a quality cover letter that focuses on your most relevant skills for the job.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: Are you comfortable talking with people in different settings? If you know this is not your strong point, be sure to prepare for the interview in advance.

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