Language Students: You Have an Advantage Over Other Job Candidates When It Comes to This Coveted Workplace Skill–Communication!

MP900309656Here’s an example of poor workplace communication that language students would instinctively know to avoid:

You’re new to a committee (or a job!)  and in the first meeting you are told: “Let me know if you don’t get future memos.

Language students have had enough experience with frustrating communication or embarrassing miscommunication to instinctively know to include the most important details.

Here’s proof: language students sometimes ONLY communicate the most important information.  What language learners haven’t found themselves saying, with great emphasis, things like:

Where church?

Two tickets. 9:30 a.m.

One coffee. Milk. Sugar.

Whatever you do–convey the most important information.

So here’s what happened to me after the “let us know if you don’t get future memos” incident.

I asked: “Who do I let know that I didn’t get the memo?

Answer: “The link is in the memo.

Me: “What?! You mean the memo I didn’t get?

This kind of communication is the thing employers tell every survey over and over and over that they don’t want to see in their new hires.

Here’s a link to an earlier blog post that I wrote about this.

Today’s Wall Street Journal did a piece on colleges offering a new exit test to judge job-related skills (Google to find the article–a link leads to the paid content).

There is a persistent miscommunication going on in this conversation that is making news (ironically, the conversation is about communication!)

Employers say, “we want employees who can communicate clearly and effectively.”

Colleges and universities say, “Yes! That’s what we do! That’s all we do! Students produce 20 pages of written communication per semester in our humanities classes. They do verbal communication in midterm and final presentations.”

What’s lost in this conversation is the fact that what universities are talking about  are communication skills that revolve around textual  analysis (or something similar)–can you deploy a given concept to show you understand its use in 19th century literary texts?

Employers are frustrated because they get employees who say things like, “let us know if you don’t get future memos.”

At least, that person should add “by 5 pm next Tuesday” so the new committee member could follow up after that time.

Even better would be a display of the communication and organization skills that would allow you to say:

I’ll add you to the distribution list and after I send out the next memo, I will follow up with you to make sure you received it.

Then after the next memo goes out, the new person gets an email that says, “I just sent out a memo. Let me know only if you did not get it.”

That’s the kind of communication employers want to see!

Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in training students to highlight their language studies so they standout in the job search and workplace. For one-on-one coaching or to set up a workshop, contact Darcy:
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