How to Demonstrate Oral and Written Communication on Your Resume
Communication is a skill that will serve you well in life—and nearly every employer agrees. That’s why so many internship and job descriptions include “oral and written communication” as a must-have qualification. And the ability to communicate clearly and diplomatically is especially important for new college hires.
In fact, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2019 survey, oral and written communication is one of the four competencies that employers value most. The other three are critical thinking/problem solving, teamwork/collaboration, and professionalism/work ethic.
These traits show that a candidate is prepared to enter the working world. But how do you prove to potential employers that you’re truly a great communicator? In this article, we’ll show you how to demonstrate your oral and written communication skills on your resume.
What is oral/written communication?
Being able to communicate both verbally and in writing means that you can effectively articulate messages, information, and ideas to a diversity of people, leading to shared understanding.
If you have strong oral communication skills, you’re able to share your ideas and feelings in a way that others can easily understand. You’re also skilled in public speaking, which means presenting information with eloquence and confidence.
Those with strong written communication skills can write clear emails and reports, make complex ideas accessible, and edit others’ writing to ensure accuracy. Additionally, they know how to adapt their writing to different audiences, from managers to interns to clients.
Why are oral and written communication skills important in college hires?
Employers across all industries and employees across all roles value oral and written communication skills. Communication is the foundation of human life and strong relationships, so employers want to know that you can speak, write, persuade, and negotiate like a champ.
Think about how often you talk to other people every day. Now, think about how often you write an email or a text. Everyone communicates all day long, so it’s an incredibly important skill. However, not everyone knows how to communicate well.
The bottom line: If you have strong communication skills, you are able to speak and write clearly. If you can speak and write clearly, you can think through problems, share your ideas, and connect with other people. Communication encompasses all these crucial skills in one tidy package.
Additionally, people who are excellent communicators have leadership potential, as effective managers need strong interpersonal skills. If you can communicate, you can engage and inspire others.
For college students, being able to communicate well is particularly important. Interns and entry-level hires work closely with other employees as they learn the ropes, so they need to be able to build relationships and ask the right questions. Oral and written communication is useful in any role, but it’s frequently listed as a key skill for the following categories:
- Marketing and communication
- Advertising and sales
- Social work
- Event planning
- Human resources
Examples of communication skills
In addition to seeking excellent oral and written communication skills, employers look for great communicators through a variety of other keywords. To find these, look at the skills listed as “Requirements” or “Preferences” in the job posting. You can read more about relevant resume skills here.
For oral and written communication, other key skills to include in your resume and cover letter might include:
- Active listening
- Interpersonal skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Attention to detail
- Conflict management
- Public speaking
You can use all these terms to highlight your oral and/or written throughout your resume and cover letter, and bring them up during your interview.
Example resume bullets that highlight oral and written communication
If a job description emphasizes communication or any related terms, you want to include keywords related to these areas in your resume and/or cover letter. But you can’t just list “talking” or “writing” as skills; anyone can say that. Instead, you need to include specific examples of when you demonstrated your awesome communication skills in the past. To get past the ATS (applicant tracking system) and impress the hiring manager, try to incorporate the keywords themselves as well as specific past examples.
You’ll want to tailor your resume depending on whether the job description mentions oral communication skills, written communication skills, or both.
For oral or verbal communication, look to your experiences with public speaking, teams, debate and mediation, and customer service. Additionally, anyone who speaks multiple foreign languages can make a great case for their verbal communication skills.
For written communication, you can mention any experiences with creative or technical writing, marketing, peer editing, blogging, SEO, teaching or tutoring, or translating. You want to prove that you have a history of connecting with others through clear, concise communication.
Example 1: Marketing and communications
Albany, NY, October 2019–Present
Any role in which you’ve done marketing, writing, editing, or design speaks to your written communication skills. If you can highlight the positive impact your skills had on the business’ bottom line, like this applicant, all the better.
Example 2: Extracurricular activities
Jersey City, NJ, August 2017–June 2019
For any internship that highlights presentations or public speaking, this is a great resume entry. This candidate shares their strong public speaking skills, and backs it up by showing that those skills have had a positive impact on those around them. Who wouldn’t want that person on their team?
Example 3: Additional information
The “Additional Information” section of your resume provides ample opportunity to showcase your communication skills. The above three examples highlight the candidate’s writing and speaking talents.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Highlighting Communication Skills on Your Resume
Being Too Vague
When you list communication skills, make sure to provide specific examples. Avoid using vague or generic phrases like “excellent communicator.” Instead, give concrete instances of your communication skills in action. Did you lead a team to a successful project conclusion? Did you draft an important report or deliver a high-stakes presentation?
Forgetting to Quantify
If possible, use metrics to illustrate your successes in communication. For example, you might say, “Implemented a communication strategy that increased project completion speed by 20%,” or “Delivered a presentation to 100+ attendees at a major industry conference.”
Overlooking Soft Skills
Many people focus on their hard skills, like their knowledge of specific software or languages. However, don’t forget to include soft skills like emotional intelligence, active listening, and conflict resolution that are crucial components of effective communication.
Neglecting the Cover Letter
Your cover letter is an excellent place to demonstrate your communication skills. A well-crafted cover letter can show your ability to articulate your thoughts, showcase your writing ability, and convey your passion for the role.
Relying Solely on Job Experiences
Communication skills can be demonstrated through a variety of experiences such as volunteering, extracurricular activities, or coursework. Don’t limit yourself to just work experiences.
Listing Skills Without Context
Simply listing “oral and written communication” under a skills section without any context or further explanation does little to convince a hiring manager of your abilities. Be sure to show how you’ve used these skills in your past roles or projects.
Your resume and cover letter are the first examples your potential employer will see of your written communication skills. Make sure they are free of grammatical errors, typos, and awkward phrasing. Consider asking a trusted friend or using an online tool to proofread your documents before sending them out.
Failing to Mention Technologies and Platforms
In the digital age, being able to communicate effectively across various platforms (emails, video calls, collaborative documents, etc.) is crucial. Make sure to mention if you’re comfortable with platforms like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace, etc.
Avoiding these common mistakes can help ensure that your resume effectively showcases your communication skills, improving your chances of making a strong impression on potential employers.
Emphasizing your oral and written communication skills on your resume is crucial, given how highly employers value this competency. Remember to demonstrate these skills through specific examples from your work, academic or extracurricular experiences, and to quantify your achievements when possible. Your cover letter also serves as an excellent platform to further showcase these skills. By effectively demonstrating your communication skills, you can significantly enhance your employability and potential for success in your career.