Whether you are talking to a friend, speaking with a coworker, preparing for an interview or conversing with a client, your communication and the way you come across is very important. No pressure. Your words and actions help you to portray a certain image when you are speaking. It is important to be mindful of who you are talking to and how the best way to communicate with them is. Whether you are an excellent conversationalist or more on the quiet side, it doesn't matter. You still have qualities that will help you in your communication, but there are a few things to keep in mind, even for the best of the best.
How to improve your communication skills:
- Know what communication is.
Communication is a technique for expressing ideas effectively, the technology of the transmission of information.
In this definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, take note of the words "expressing" and "effectively." before you can begin to improve upon your communication skills, you must understand what communication is and from there you can move onto how to improve.
- Be aware of how you already act.
Knowing your current actions and how you communicate with others is key to seeing what you may need to improve upon.
- Try not to change to many things at once.
Make it your goal to change one or two things at a time. If you try to change your communication skills all at once, you may forget certain things down the road. It is more important to create positive habits that will last and soon automatically become part of how you communicate.
- Communication is a mutual understanding.
In addition to understanding what communication is, it is important to realize that the point of communication is to reach a mutual understanding. Remember that there are at least two parties involved and that contribute to the communication.
- Maximize positive personality traits.
When you take a step back and look at how you communicate, you identify your weaknesses and strengths. Your weaknesses are what you are improving but don't forget your strengths. Use your strong points to your advantage .
- Express yourself.
In order to express your ideas, you must say what you think. It is OK to have an opinion and to be confident about your opinion or your comments. Having the courage to express yourself is half of the battle when it comes to communication.
- See other points of view.
Communication is a lot easier if you are able to take into consideration where everyone else is coming from. If you only see things your way then part of the communication is already lost. Allowing yourself to have an open mind and to be able to understand the thought process of someone else will allow for greater and more successful communication.
- Use "I" messages.
Instead of always saying "you" this and "you" that, try saying "I" instead. That way the person you are speaking with doesn't feel threatened and is more at ease. With the other person's guard down they are more likely to hear what you are saying and more likely to see things from your point of view.
- Practice makes perfect.
Be social. Talk to your friends and family. Talk to random strangers, though perhaps you shouldn't share your address or phone number (unless he/she is really cute). However the point is to be comfortable with yourself, your thoughts and your words.
The other half of communication is listening. Communication is not a one way street. As much as you have something to say, so does the other person. When you listen, you get an idea as to who you are really talking to and how you should approach them. By listening, you are actually making communication easier for yourself.
- Make eye contact.
Sometimes it is hard to do, but eye contact shows you are confident and assertive. It also shows the other person that you are listening and the the conversation is worthwhile. Making eye contact does not mean to stare deeply into their eyes for long amounts of time which sooner or later (sooner I am guessing) will become creepy. It really is OK to look away from time to time, just be aware you are not completing averting eye contact.
- Gestures and body language
Using gestures while speaking helps to encourage and reiterate your words. It shows passion and allows the conversation to flow freely.
Keep in mind your body language as well. Standing with your arms folded may allow you to look closed off and unapproachable. With your arms comfortably at your side, you are more open to those around you, making it easier for them to approach you with questions, concerns or even a simple conversation.
- Be clear.
When you speak, make sure that your point is clear. Adding details is fine, but unnecessary information clutters the conversation and makes it hard to follow. Try to be orderly in what you are saying.
Another way of being clear is to enunciate and pronounce your words clearly. With clear speech it is easier to follow the conversation. Speaking slowly and clearly will allow you to get further with your conversation and to help improve your communication skills.
- Use the right words.
By choosing your words wisely, you are able to keep your conversation clear and precise, allowing the other person to follow along.
- Use enthusiasm and the appropriate volume.
Using animation in your voice allows for an exciting conversation and also keeps the person or people you are speaking to interested in what you are saying. Having a monotone voice will put anyone to sleep, just think of your worst college professor...you know what I am saying. Also, using the appropriate volume is key. If you are close together using a six inch voice may be better than using a voice you might use while giving a presentation in front of a large group of people.
How to Choose Your College
Choosing a college can seem very daunting for some, especially with the large amount of choices that exist. However, you can make it easier for yourself by following these tips.
Choosing a college can seem very daunting for some, especially with the large amount of choices that exist. It is not to be forgotten however, you can make choosing a college into a systematic process, allowing you to come to a final decision through a much more controlled process. Many high-school graduates also have problems when choosing their college as the amount of different opinions that exist on each college one vary widely from person to person. It is often much easier and much more strongly recommended to build your own opinions through research of various kinds.
Top Tips to Choose Your College
- Visit - Hearing about colleges through other people even when it´s close friends that have gone their is never a good idea. You should always try and build your own opinion. By visiting multiple colleges you will begin to get an idea of what you want and do not want. For example you may start noticing patterns weather you prefer a smaller or a bigger college. Visiting a college also allows you to gain a first hand impression of their facilities and the people that are attending there. This is worth more than many think and visiting more than one college even if you are not sure you want to go there will help massively with college selection in the long run.
- Don't base everything on rankings - Although it is a good idea to look at the rankings in order to get a feeling for how colleges have been compared to some others you know, it is not recommended to apply to one college over another because of it's ranking. Rankings, as done by the New York Times every year, often concentrate on the spending of a college on it's faculty, facilities, and classes or the amount of research undertaken. However, the colleges spending habits do not necessarily impact the quality of the education you will receive and the value of the people that you will meet while being there. This is why visiting colleges is so important, you may wish to go to a certain top ranked college, however after visiting it, you may decide it's not for you after all or that you definitely wish to attend that school. Keep in mind, it is often far more accurate to search for college rankings concerning themselves with your course or major specifically.
- Apply to 3 ranges of colleges - It is a good idea to apply to some "reach" colleges which you believe are just slightly out of your reach when it comes to results. It is possible that you will be pleasantly surprised if you are not completely unrealistic with your choices. Then apply to two or three colleges which you believe that you would really like to go to, choose these carefully as they are the ones you will most likely end up attending. Also choose a safety school, make sure you still like this school as much as your others however it should be a sure thing that you are getting in.
How to Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Screening Software
In order to diminish the numbers of applications some companies will automatically screen applications, make sure you do not get filtered out with these tips!
When bigger companies advertise the opening of a position, it is not uncommon for them to receive a large amount of applications for the respective job. While not all companies do this, some use applicant screening software in order to filter out the applications by a set of rules that are predetermined by the employer. However, this sometimes also causes problems for the applicants. If your resume or cover letter does not contain certain keywords related the to the job for example, it is possible that no one will ever see your resume. It is a good idea to format your resume and cover letter correctly, in order to avoid being eliminated before the hiring manager has considered you.
Use keywords - One of the main things that screening software does is scan the resume for certain keywords. Problems arise when, for example, the job description requires the ability to use a certain program, however, it is not mentioned in your resume even though you are able to. This is why it is important to include skills that are required or maybe even seem obvious as screening programs often filter resumes out that do not contain certain words, in an effort to only select candidates that are fully qualified.
Repetition - If the job seems to focus on a certain skill or function it is a good idea to include it multiple times throughout your resume. Screening programs will often filter out resumes that do not seem relevant enough to the job, this can be combated however, by using the words from the job description especially those which seem to play a large role in the job.
Job titles - Applicant screening software also often scans your employment history and checks its relatedness with the job you are applying for. This is usually the case when the job requires a certain amount of experience. Sometimes however, the software will not recognize a job title and class it as unrelated. It is therefore a good idea, if your recent or current job title does not match with the one you are applying for, to clarify or even put the new employers name for the same job in parentheses. It is not recommended to change the job title entirely as this would be seen as a discrepancy if questioned about it.
- Save in a standard format - It is often debated which format is the best to send out a resume as, when the company does not specify. Using nonstandard software or formats may cause your resume to be discarded by the screening process or the company may have trouble opening it. Due to the number of applicants the company will not alert you of this fact and your resume will also be discarded. Therefore when sending your resume it is suggested to use a PDF or Word (.docx or .doc) file as most companies will view these as standard.
Tips for Submitting an Online Job Application
Online applications can be daunting for some, however by following these tips will help you avoid the most common mistakes when applying for jobs online.
Online job applications are becoming much more common, however for many people the process is fairly new and unfamiliar. The adopting companies often prefer the paperless aspect of online applications as well as the fact that losing documents also becomes a non-issue. The overall application process may be similar to when applications are done in person but there are some crucial aspects that need extra attention when applying online. The idea of applying online for a job may be daunting but using the following tips as a guide may clear up some worries or questions.
Top tips for applying for a job online
- Know what you are applying for - One of the most common mistakes made when applying for a job online is not fully reading the job description or advertisement. Hiring managers that use online mediums to search for candidates often complain about receiving applications from job seekers that are under qualified, or do not have the necessary experience to obtain the job. Make sure you read the whole job description and know what is expected of you, just because an application is online does not change the fact that job requirements are often not flexible.
- Avoid errors in your application at all costs - Although this goes for all job applications it is even more important when you are applying online. Online applications are often stored even if the candidate was not selected, therefore if you provide content that includes errors this may reduce your chance of seeking another job with the same company in the future. Make sure to check all work before you press the submit button, also reading your text backwards often helps detect spelling errors.
- Create a job specific cover or motivation letter (if required) - Make sure to write a good cover letter if one is required. Instead of using a template or writing one that is not specific to the job you are applying to, use the guidelines in the link below to create a unique specific cover letter.
- Check your social media sites - If you are applying to a modern company that you know either uses a lot of social networking sites or even conducts checks of these sites as a part of the hiring process, be sure to check your account for any information you do not wish to share with your employer or anything that could deter them considering you as a candidate.
- Be aware of applicant screening systems - Many employers will not send your details straight to the hiring manager. Often companies use an application screening system that allows for employers to cut down on the number of applications they receive. The system works by scanning for keywords relevant to the position or company, therefore remember to use include all skills and abilities even if they may seem obvious.
- Use the STARR method when asked competency questions - Many firms like to ask competency questions on their online job application form. These are questions which allow the employer to learn more about you on their own terms. The STARR method is a great way to answer these questions, it consists of describing a Situation, Telling the employer what your task or role was, describing the Actions you took, discuss the Result and how you Reflected about it. It is always a good idea to use specific, concrete examples of past situations when applying for a job, when applying online competency questions provide you with the chance to do so.
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