New Biz Study: Job Seekers Can’t Write or Speak Well

Capital Region business leaders say about two-thirds of their job applicants have fair or poor verbal and writing skills. Just one percent, they say, are excellent. This revelation (and others) “bolsters the concern of the skills gap in the community,” said Michael Tucker, a top area voice on the economy, speaking to the Business Review.

A new Siena Research Institute survey of area business executives indicates good communication is lacking in the “communication century.” Though we are consuming information at an unprecedented rate, our ability to make the most of the Internet age needs vast improvement.

This problem can be fixed. First, our schools have to regain their focus on the basics, writing and speaking. Too often, our schools are tugs of war over social engineering and advocacy. How many stories have you seen on bullying in the news? How many have you seen on poor writing skills? That’s not to suggest bullying is acceptable, it isn’t, but more emphasis is needed on core skills.

Recently, a college student of mine complained because I took points off her writing assignment for poor grammar. “You didn’t say that would count,” she protested.

Second, we need to lead by example. In fact, the press release (see below) announcing this survey presents an enormous “improvement opportunity” — a product of poor clarity, graphically challenged and real work just to read.

Business leaders should consider more investment in communication training, for themselves and their team. I’ve seen many senior executives perform ineffectively when given the luxury of a large audience. We must see attention as a commodity, especially today.

Technology has given us a wonderful set of tools to communicate, but being interesting is a skill. All of us play a role in enhancing the skills needed for a stronger economy and a better society.

 

The writer is an award-winning communications trainer and a longtime adjunct media professor.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Dazzle Your Prospective Employer!

Many people take the wrong approach to the job search and you may be one of them.

The resume is often where trouble begins. Leading with your “objective” is a waste of the few valuable seconds of attention your prospective employer gives you while zipping through resumes. Employers care little about what you want. They want to know how you can help them.

Get into the employer’s head. Good research is not so much about knowing when the company was founded. It’s about checking around to see if you know anyone who knows your interviewer and discovering the emotional buttons that will produce the best response.

Start with a summary that clearly describes what you bring to the table. What are the things in your background that make you valuable to the employer? Be plain spoken and avoid bureaucratic jargon.

List accomplishments, not titles or duties. If you were V-P of this or that for four years, show what you got accomplished while there. Employers want to see proof. Be prepared to produce it. Example:

Wrong:
Supervised a sales staff of four, offered strategic advice and provided input on various areas of operations. Blah, blah, blah.

Right:
Supervised a sales team that produce a 67% jump in sales in three years. Our staff  turnover rate was cut in half under my supervision.

On salary, never tell them what you are making. If they ask, say ” I feel that is proprietary information I wouldn’t like to share.” If they ask, “What would you like to make, respond with, “What salary range do you have in mind?” Do your best to get them to put a figure up first. It may be more than you were hoping for. Career consultant Maggie Mistal recommends you don’t bring salary up until you have convinced them you’re a superstar. They may then be willing to go for a higher salary than they anticipated.

Remember, nothings sells like passion. Show enthusiasm for what you do and how you can help.

The best way to catch trout is to fish in a trout stream, so swim in the right streams. Network where you have the chance of making the contacts that will help you.

Don’t forget to follow up with a note if you are still interested in the job. A real letter beats an email every time.

There is something special about each of us. Don’t keep it a secret. Knock ’em dead!

The writer runs a communication consulting and coaching business. Do not hesitate to contact Mark for help.

 

 

 

 

Want a Job or Promotion? Use Good Grammar.

“If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use ‘it’s,’ then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with.” – Kyle Wiens

Kyle Wiens

IFixit CEO Kyle Wiens won’t hire people who use poor grammar. Wiens gives all job applicants a grammar test because he finds people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also “make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.”

A new analysis of the writing in LinkedIn profiles draws a correlation between good grammar and professional success. The higher up you go, the better the grammar gets.

Consider these statistics:

LinkedIn Profiles Studied: Grammar Mistakes per 1,000 Words
Director Level or Higher – 8
Below Director Level – 20

Grammarly conducted the study and its CEO, Brad Hoover, said the study “clearly supports the hypothesis that good grammar is a predictor of professional success.” Of course, there are many other factors that lead to professional success. But the report should make us think.

I’m a strong believer in conversational writing that omits much of the bureaucratic speak that bores us to death. But casual writing and good grammar are not mutually exclusive. Why not make good use of them both?

The writer owns a communication business and is an adjunct college professor. Don’t hesitate to contact him for communication help.