Help Wanted: A Great Communicator

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Communication skills are important tools to have under your belt: they can help you land a job, enhance your performance on the job and make you stand out from the crowd

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Every employer is looking for a specific set of skills from job seekers to line up with the skills necessary to perform a particular job. But beyond job-specific, technical skills, employers in all fields are looking for candidates who can communicate effectively. By far, the one skill mentioned most often by employers as critical to a candidate becoming a productive member of their organization is the ability to speak and write well.

“Students need to know that communications skills will help them just as much, if not more, to succeed in their careers – wherever they end up working, and whatever they end up doing.”

While successful communication is critical to success in the workplace, employers are finding many applicants are coming up short in their ability to express themselves clearly, both in writing and in speaking. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2013, the ability to communicate with individuals inside and outside an organization is the top rated skill that employers want new employees to possess.

Patricia Bergh, Dean of the Humanities Division at Mott Community College, wants students to realize that communication skills involving writing and speaking with an awareness of the professional environment  represent a “value-added skill set that – can give students  the edge in landing and keeping those coveted high-wage, high-demand jobs  – many of which they can train for right here at MCC.

“We like to point out to students, particularly those who intend to transfer to a four-year institution, that by gaining experience and practicing their communication skills here at Mott Community College, they will also have an advantage over their university classmates who may not have yet associated the value of those skills in their interpersonal dealings,” Bergh said. “After all, competing for high-wage, high-demand jobs or graduate and professional school admission begins way before graduation, particularly in terms of making strong, positive impressions among faculty who can provide letters of recommendation, or in internships, where an employer has the opportunity to observe the student on the job. The positive impression a student makes in that arena may lead to a job offer or a strong positive professional reference.”

Some students fail to realize how important it is to develop strong communications skills before entering the job market.

Bergh continued, “They may have all the skills in the world and be the top student in their particular curriculum. But if they can’t present themselves on a resume over the telephone or in a face-to-face interview in a way that makes a prospective employer take notice of them, they will miss out on the chance to demonstrate those particular skills in a workplace situation.”

Many employers believe the ability to speak and write well reflects critical thinking, organizational and sound decision-making skills, and expect people to use language that’s professional and appropriate for a business setting.

“There’s a professional vocabulary for the workplace and when you’re interacting with a prospective employer,” Bergh said. “This requires an entirely different vocabulary than you would use if you’re talking to one of your best friends.”

MCC offers an excellent opportunity for everyone to improve their communications skills, with a broad range of courses. Every student is strongly encouraged to take Communications 131 – Fundamentals of Public Speaking.

“In Communications 131, students learn hands-on,” Bergh stated. “The course is not just limited to learning theories and it’s more than just learning how to speak in front of people.  It’s understanding that your spoken words have an impact on people. There is a lot of practice and application in the course; students learn through experience and by observing and critiquing their classmates’ speeches.”

Whether you’re applying for a position or communicating at work, your success can also hinge on your writing ability. MCC offers a number of courses designed to help people sharpen their writing skills.

“We offer technical writing — English 103 and 104 (Composition for Technical Fields I and II),” Bergh said. “They transfer and serve the same function as the English Composition 101 and English Composition 102 courses, but the technical and professional focus deals specifically with writing in the workplace.”

MCC offers more than 100 programs of study that can provide students with the necessary skills that can lead to a variety of employment opportunities – employment with a strong positive future. But students need to understand that along with those skills they’ve acquired to be proficient in their fields there are other skills they need, and communications skills are essential.

“No one should think, ‘If I have this degree or that degree, people will be lining up outside my door to hire me,’ “ she said.”Although that has been known to happen occasionally, it’s a relatively rare occurrence in today’s economy.”

“Students need to know that communications skills will help them just as much, if not more, to succeed in their careers – wherever they end up working, and whatever they end up doing,” Bergh added.

Many of the general education courses required by four-year institutions may be acquired within MCC’s Humanities Division and are fully transferable. These courses help students succeed in their college studies at MCC, when they transfer to other colleges or universities and in the workplace. For information about the courses and programs offered in the Humanities Division, call
(810) 762-0470.

Sharon Campbell

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