Wanted: A grad who can talk


Jennifer Walton - Guest Column



Communication is something to talk about as graduates ponder their future pursuits.

Memorial Day marks the peak of graduation season and students are undoubtedly contemplating where their journeys now go. As they ponder their next steps, they would be well-advised to ruminate on their ability to communicate.

Although the title of orator does not pop up when Googling hot job fields, both high-school and college graduates will find that that communication skills are important in making the grade no matter what route they pursue.

Various studies show that communication skills are among those most valued in new employees. The No. 1 skill employers seek in new hires is regularly oral communication, often followed closely by interpersonal skills and the ability to work in groups. Among other regular top-10 attributes in new employees are flexibility and analytical skills. All of these traits are directly or indirectly related to communication.

Supervisors state that they can teach the specifics of a particular job to a new hire. However, employees must come already equipped with communication and self-awareness skills.

Many people have good ideas. The ability to clearly and persuasively articulate that concept will help employees stand out among their peers and can even lead to promotions. Also, once you have ascended to that next rung on the career ladder, strong communication skills will set you apart as an effective leader and not just an average manager. Skilled communicators are viewed as being capable of leading others.

No matter an individual’s situation, communication skills are valuable. Effective communicators are good listeners and possess self-awareness. They tend to better understand what motivates people and, in turn, are better able to persuade others. From clients to supervisors, those who communicate convincingly can also connect with and sway others.

For those going off to college, communication skills are essential in making that adjustment. These students are viewed as classroom leaders, and their ability to listen well allows them to see how they fit into the bigger picture. Further, the field of communication studies offers a range of possible career options that respond to a changing job market and is a strong choice as an academic major or minor.

Beyond the classroom, communication skills are important in adjusting to new settings and making new friends. Communicators understand non-verbal cues, and others are naturally drawn to them. This ability to ‘read’ other people and situations is pivotal in navigating life-changing moments.

With the prevalence of social media, the “soft skill” of effective communication can be increasingly hard to find. In this age, with so many individuals glued to their screens and often using their phones as a crutch to avoid social interaction, the ability to connect with others and engage in meaningful face-to-face dialogue with others is especially valuable.

So, as graduation season ushers in a new chapter in the lives of many, skilled communicators may find themselves a step ahead as graduates begin their next journey. That is something to discuss.

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Jennifer Walton

Guest Column

Jennifer Walton is a professor of communication and media studies at Ohio Northern University. She has spent her academic and professional careers studying communication and its effectiveness in various academic, professional and social settings.

Jennifer Walton is a professor of communication and media studies at Ohio Northern University. She has spent her academic and professional careers studying communication and its effectiveness in various academic, professional and social settings.

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