9 CV Strengthening Communication Skills

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Refined communication skills increase your chances of being hired. Here are 9 communication skills you need on your CV, how to demonstrate them and how to bring them to life at the interview.

Key points

  • The strongest candidates prove their communication skills in their CV, not just list them
  • Communication can be a quality – it can be earned through experience or demonstrated through style, tone of voice, organisation and brevity
  • It’s hard to show critical communication skills like empathy, flexibility and friendliness in a CV but it is possible – read on to find out how

What communication skills do employers want?

A perfect CV pitch gets your foot in the door, but what makes a CV completely irresistible to employers? Exemplary communication skills.

More than a list of achievements and work history, it’s a gateway to your personality. A big part of how well you perform, or how well-liked you are, is how you communicate.

Your communication style through this short document causes a gut reaction, much like an instinctive reaction when you meet someone for the first time.

Some employers will know from just a quick glance whether you’re a good fit for their culture and team. Subconsciously, they’re looking for these 9 communication qualities:

  • Clarity
  • Receptiveness
  • Focus
  • Confidence
  • Empathy
  • Friendliness
  • Respectfulness
  • Open-mindedness
  • Flexibility

These communication skills make you a great human to work with. HR and potential managers want two things:

  1. Someone who can express themselves constructively and persuasively
  2. Someone sensitive, collaborative and observant, who’s easy to work with

If you can demonstrate that you have good communication skills in your CV, you’ll get an interview.

9 CV strengthening communication skills

Here are the 9 communication skills you need in your CV. Let’s discover what they are and how to evidence them.

#1 Clarity

“Clarity comes from making complete statements – what, why and how, said with brevity,” explains TSW’s Head of Leadership and Management, Andrew Wallbridge. “Mark Twain once said, ‘if I had more time I’d have written shorter letters’, but brevity is difficult and takes rehearsal and preparation.”

Clear, well-paced sentences are easier to understand and digest. Use easy to understand language and avoid jargon and buzz words at all costs.

What does a clear CV mean to an employer? “That when they meet you, they’ll understand you. There’s no risk of misinterpretation,” says Andrew “and you mean what you say.”

#2 Receptiveness

Show that new techniques and processes are your lifeblood by naming the techniques you use to gain personal success.

Acknowledge that thought-leadership and other authority sources have shaped your personal approach to work. It assures prospective employers that this isn’t a one-person show. It proves you are receptive, humble, experimental, inspired and interested.

#3 Focus

Prioritise your CV to prove that you’re focused.

  • Put your achievements at the top of your CV in bullet points.
  • Emphasise the outcomes of the project, not the task itself

It illustrates that you’re goal-orientated and can boil down a complex project into a digestible number. Focus gives a swan-like and effortless impression.

#4 Confidence

A CV that radiates self-belief is trustworthy.

It assures potential employers that you can act with conviction and faith in the cause. How can you project a confident version of yourself without saying ‘I am confident’?

  • Make a big deal about the career changes that took courage
  • Shout about the projects that demand resilience and determination
  • Showcase your ability to raise morale
  • Point out when you had responsibilities

What are business communication skills?

Stellar professional communication skills give you influence, trust, approachability, empathy and success at work. Channelling energy into improving your communication skills won’t go unnoticed – if you contribute positively to the culture and can use your skills to improve efficiency and productivity, it sets you apart.

#5 Empathy

Achieve empathy in your CV by understanding the position of your employer, the role you’re applying for and making it personal.

Your potential employer is busy. They’re snowed under with CVs. They’re bored of leafing through long-winded, meaningless boasts, but they’re under pressure to hire someone. What makes them stop at your application? It’s brief, to the point and easy to understand.

Go one further. Work with your recruiter to produce an application that’s a breath of fresh air and a pleasant distraction – perhaps it’s a video, a live digital landing page, or a Tik Tok dance.

#6 Friendly

Friendliness should be at the heart of your CV. You can be warm, without being overly familiar.

Use a tone of voice tool, like Grammarly, to assess your work as you’re writing it. Its AI capabilities identify the engagement and delivery of your CV. If it’s friendly, a smiley face will appear at the foot of your document.

#7 Respectful

Prospective employers need to see that you know how to connect with and inspire people. If you’ve been a team leader or a line manager, use phrases like ‘mentor’, ‘guide’, ‘advise’ and ‘coach’ when you talk about managing.

It shows that you have an eye for potential. You care about the people around you and you want to invest in talent.

Not only does that imply you’re a respectful member of the team, but it also shows that respect must have been reciprocated.

#8 Open-minded

Show employers that you’re open to ideas presented by other people. Point out your role in organising and leading one-on-one meetings, performance appraisalspersonal development plans and motivational activities.

It proves you can listen and that you’re self-aware within a group. That you’re honest and available for discussions.

#9 Flexibility

Your new manager needs someone they can rely on to be calm and dynamic if the goalposts change.

If they say ‘we need to pivot’ your communication skills are intuitive enough to respond, attempt to understand why, but not sulkily challenge.

We’ve all encountered tight deadlines and time-sensitive projects. We’ve also worked with groups of workers with various abilities.

Show that you’ve delivered work at a demanding pace, or you’ve altered your approach to support the people around you. Those two experiences alone will show that you know how to be flexible.

Interview communication skills

Your body language should bring to life the communication skills you’ve worked hard to demonstrate in your CV.

Confidence coach, Allie Morgan from What Comes Next Coaching, says you should practice what you preach and show off all of these skills at interview:

“You’re bound to feel nervous but if you can, try to actively listen to what the interviewer is saying to you, rather than trying to come up with your next answer.

“By tuning in to what the interviewer is saying, you’re forming more of a connection with them, instead of getting distracted by your own thoughts.

“Make eye contact with them and listen to their questions carefully, then take a moment to think of your answer before you start speaking. If you’re unsure exactly what they’re asking you, don’t be afraid to paraphrase the question back to them for clarification.”

Listening is the hardest of all the senses to perfect“, adds Andrew. “Listen with your eyes and do not interrupt or think you know what they’re saying, you probably don’t. Let people finish. In the absence of doubt, playback what you heard “can I just confirm what I think you’re telling me?” “Can I just check my understanding?” Or ask probing questions to get clarity. It demonstrates you’re trying to listen and it demonstrates empathy.

“Don’t slouch!” says Andrew. “Be as tall as you can be without looking like you have a pole inside your shirt. Hands out front, either on your lap on a table. Let them be seen and don’t be afraid to use them to support your statements.

“Some may find eye contact uncomfortable, but don’t avoid it. Look at someone’s temple or the bridge of their nose. Make that connection with everyone. And, smile.”

“Don’t be afraid to pause as silence can be golden. Speak as it the person opposite is hard of hearing – don’t shout, be slow and project your voice accordingly. Keep your head up as you speak. Face your listener.”

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Sue Hampson
Sue is TSW Training's Business Services Training Advisor for ILM Leadership and Management. Sue regularly writes about leadership and management techniques.
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