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Communication: Past and Present
Communication: Past and Present
No matter the time, it appears that communication in all its forms is important to companies looking to hire new employees. Whether communicating verbally or through script, employers expect new hires to be able to communicate intelligently, professionally, and without the use of slang. Nonverbal forms of communication, such as eye contact and listening skills have also seemingly always been important to employers. The relevancy of these articles stands true through time because few things have changed; those attempting to get hired should take heed to what employers are looking for in terms of communication because it is likely since so few things have changed that these qualities are still relevant. However, there are some grievances in the article, such as the use of slang, which can be used as a strength. Regardless, there are many relevant correlations throughout the articles that should be noticed.
Despite the eight-year difference in the two articles, each marks what employers are looking for in new employees. They have stunning similarities that appear to have stood the test of time. For example, Marshalita Sims Petersons’, “Personnel Interviewers’ Perceptions of the Importance and Adequacy of Applicants’ Communication Skill,” marked non-verbal and oral communication skills as key qualities employers desired in new hires . Verbal interaction was even cited as part of the interviewing process. However, it was found at the time of the study in 1997, that interviewers were only moderately satisfied with the communication skills of potential hires . Typically, the most significant inadequacies fell in technical communication, as well as non-verbal communication. Meanwhile, Betsy Stevens’ study, “What Communication Skills Do Employers Want? Silicon Valley Recruiters Respond,” taking place in 2005, showed employers also valued verbal and nonverbal communication in the workplace . Moreover, they considered it crucial for workplace advancement, as well as keeping a job . Another correlation between the articles is found in Stevens’ study when it states employers in 2005 are also dissatisfied with the communication skills of new hires, especially when concerning technology and proofreading .
Many things stand out in relation to the articles. Perhaps the greatest thing that stands out is that in the earlier article, proofreading is not a communicative issue, while in 2005’s study, proofreading is an employer-employee communicative issue . It is likely this is because in the eight-year period between the studies, many devices were introduced to younger generations that proofread documents for them. Proofreading was no longer a talent that was needed and, therefore, younger generations stopped practicing it in everyday life. This communicative issue was likely not an issue in previous communication exchanges because new hires were conditioned to proofread, rather than having their laptop, cell phone, or tablet do it for them. Furthermore, what stands out is that the remaining communicative issues remained issues for eight years. Employers continued hiring groups of new employees without correcting their behavior, or making it more widely known what they were looking for. It is only in the later article by Peterson that it is addressed whether school systems are adequately preparing students for employment, as well as whether vocational programs could be more rigorous with their training . Stevens’ article failed to ask if new hires were graduating school or vocational training programs underprepared communicatively, but if the question had been asked sooner maybe there would not be so many similarities between the two articles as there are today.
Each article made many valid points. New hires should be able to communicate articulately and professionally, both verbally and nonverbally. However, I disagree with Stevens’ aversion for slang . It is agreeable that, in many cases, slang is unacceptable in a popular setting. However, for some occupations such as marketing, slang can be an asset when communicating. It is all dependent upon the product, the method of marketing, and the way the product is being marketed. For example, if a product is a new energy drink and it is being marketed on a new website directed at teens and adolescents, a new hire who is able to communicate using slang that teenagers and adolescents would respond to could be an asset. Because it is an asset does not mean the individual should speak in slang, or write in slang, in professional settings. However, asserting their capabilities should be seen as a strength, depending on the context. Moreover, communicative issues found with proofreading are important, but cannot be held against new hires for several reasons. Many devices on the market, the very devices that disallow individuals of today the opportunity to develop a knack for proofreading, can proofread for the new hire. Essentially, it is no longer a necessary skill, but rather a quality that merely sets one individual apart from a batch of new hires.
Though there were some discrepancies found in the articles, I do largely agree with them. Silicon Valley recruiters admitted to desiring new hires that were better trained in oral and written communication with an increased ability to handle electronic media and promote a positive self-image . While proofreading specifically may not be as important as it once was, communication itself is a fundamental part of working as a cohesive team. Oral and nonverbal communication, particularly listening, is important to a fully functional workplace. As stated in Peterson’s article, “Ongoing satisfactory communication is critical to success.” A workplace cannot run successfully without each person communicating to the best of their abilities, and if each hire is not pushing them to convey clear messages and to listen, miscommunication or a high turnover rate could cause businesses to fail.
The information in the articles is relevant to all who read it. The studies were performed in order to ask employers and recruiters exactly what they were looking for in terms of communication in new hires. For example, Silicon Valley recruiters said many new hires and interviewees needed additional help with personal presentations, being interviewed and even business etiquette; this was seen as a weakness . After absorbing this information, one can be aware of what Silicon Valley recruiters are used to seeing, as well as what they are tired of seeing. Understanding this can allow one to be better prepared for an interview and, thus, be more likely to get a job.
Employers said students needed additional help in personal presentation, inter- viewing, and business etiquette.
Based on the results found in Peterson’s study, it is clear higher education such as colleges and universities could do more to support the employability of graduates by focusing on their communication competencies. The study found that many graduate and vocational programs lack communicative programs and may not be preparing graduates for occupational fields . Many colleges and universities focus too often on writing papers and answering questions, whether in the form of one word, a few words, or a few sentences. Anything longer than that is done through essays. Proofreading is performed on laptops and other electronic devices. Oral exams are only given to students who are disabled, and unable to write or type. Given these circumstances, unless a class has a discussion wherein every classmate is required to participate, communication is not a required skill that individuals must learn. Even communication classes do not require students to learn how to communicate effectively. At most, students learn how to give speeches and answer questions, rather than communicate messages and listen effectively. Colleges, universities, and vocational programs should have courses that focus more on communication that will be needed to retain gainful employment, rather than constantly focusing on regurgitating information, whether orally or through script.
In sum, the articles were very similar and relevant despite their time difference. They spoke to today’s generation’s inability to communicate, as well as the dissatisfaction employers feel because of it. However, employers have done little to voice their dissatisfaction. In turn, colleges, universities, and vocational courses have done little to prepare students for the communication skills they will need to retain gainful employment after graduation. While all communication complaints, such as a lack of proofreading skills, were not without qualm, most were relevant, and provided a map for the average interviewee on what to avoid and what to work on when attempting to get hired by today’s standards.
Sims Peterson, M. (1997). Personnel interviewers' perceptions of the importance and adequacy of applicants' communication skill. Communication Education, 287-291.
Stevens, B. (2005). What Communication Skills Do Employers Want? Silicon Valley Recruiters Respond. Journal of Employment Counseling, 2-9.
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