Communication Is In The Eye (Ear) of the Receiver
Penny Sallberg-Carrillo, Co-founder and EVP, CPGjobs
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these days about communication. I think that’s because over the past few weeks it has become apparent to me that we have done an inadequate job of communicating the benefits of CPGjobs’ services to our candidates. How do I know? Because so few of you are taking advantage of them!
The situation reminds me of something George Bernard Shaw famously said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” And therein lies the challenge.
How many times have you experienced a situation in which you feel certain you’ve communicated only to find your meaning or message has been completely misunderstood by the receiver? If you’ve managed staff, you’ve probably had this experience. If you’re managing a job search, I know you have.
For candidates, the issue of communication weighs heavily in job search. Right from the start of the search process, candidates must not only craft their personal brand – but must communicate it consistently and effectively in a variety of mediums – from LinkedIn profiles to resumes to email and telephone contacts with recruiters.
The game of job search has clearly shifted over the past 5 years, but the rules of engagement for effective communication have pretty much remained the same. There is a place for electronic communication; tweeting, texting, emails and the like, yet there comes a time when face-to-face time is essential.
In his recent article, Avoiding Nasty Communication, Tom Bolt cites the ten common communication situations that need attention in our professional lives. I think this list of ten is particularly helpful to both managers and job seekers. To paraphrase several of Bolt’s points;
Making Job Interviews Meaningful. An interview is a dialog form of communication in which both the candidate and recruiter should get something out of the experience. The candidate must learn something about the job expectations and company environment and the interviewer must “see” the candidate as an employee, fitting into the position and contributing to company goals. One-way dialog in interviews yield nothing valuable for either party.
Ignoring the “Social” Part of Networking. According to Bolt, “Failure in openness in an age of openness makes for sterile and boring messages.” To me this means that if you are a job seeker with a growing social media presence, you must strike a balance between being who you authentically are and keeping your comments and communications to a professional level. This doesn’t mean that you should steer away from controversy – only that you demonstrate skill in how you communicate your ideas. That openness also means admitting mistakes and working to rectify them.
Improving Telephone Communications. One of the biggest interruptions to our day is the telephone – yet the telephone is one of our most important tools. Bolt wisely reminds us to remember that your call – regardless of its subject matter – is essentially an intrusion on someone else’s day, so make it count. Leave a message if your call rolls to voicemail. When you leave your message, clearly state the reason for your call and the level of urgency. If you are calling someone who doesn’t know you (like a recruiter), spell your name and repeat the callback number both at the beginning and end of your message. “There cannot be any further communication without a callback, so make it as easy as you can for the recipient of your message.
These are just a few of Tom’s excellent points; you can read his entire post here.
Perhaps one of the toughest communication issues to navigate today is the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of the various technologies we have at our disposal for communication. CIO.com reports survey results stating that 67% of senior managers and executives worldwide believe their organizations would be more productive if superiors communicated more often by personal discussion rather than through technologies like voice mail and email.
“Personal discussion is the foundation of communications,” said one survey respondent. “Once this foundation is established, it enables all of the other forms of communication. Having a personal connection builds trust and minimizes misinterpretation and misunderstanding.” From a job search perspective, I suspect this is one of the reasons why personal referral is still the number one recruitment tactic – ahead of all other hiring methods. And I should interject here that this is the primary reason CPGjobs makes personal introductions to hiring managers on behalf of our candidates.
Social mediums are great for quick information distribution, micro-chatting and demonstrating expertise. Email is a perfect tool for scheduling appointments and distributing documents. The telephone is great for quick two-way communication. Memos and printed material are appropriate when a lot of background information must be given. In-person meetings are for true dialog and reaching of consensus.
Don’t ignore the importance of face-to-face networking in your career or your job search. No matter how tough it may be for you, in-person networking opportunities are the perfect way to connect with others, listen, learn, and tell your story through reciprocal exchange.
Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could sit down in a face-to-face meeting and engage in direct dialog with each one of you. As things are, the only way I have to communicate is through email and our website. But you can pick up the phone and give me a call. Our staff and me are available to you – to answer questions and to help you with your job search.
So register on the site, pick up the phone and call me at 626-535-0143. I look forward to talking with you…as close to face-to-face as we can get!