Yes, Great Resume, Oops, Oh no, Communication Skills!

So you are on the lookout for that hardcore technology developer with the 2 skills your Client is calling you down every day about; “Paul where are you on that search …? We are really under a lot of pressure …” You drop everything again, to re-focus on the search and finally;  in the depths of a search, through 5 referrals of a referral, you get the “Killer Resume” that hits your email and, you know that it's going to blow down your Client’s door, because of the excitement of the find, like a raw diamond not yet cut to precision- but precious.

The resume just hot off the laser printer and you’re on the phone quickly dialing 3 times as your fingers are dialing faster than they should to get this super candidate on the phone.   You connect ...,  and after, “ Hi Chris my name is Paul  and I wanted to talk to you about a new developer opportunity and I was really impressed with your background la la la …”  You experience, a “Rick Perry Oops moment” … Because you are not expecting the response from the candidate to be anything but great, atleast a 7/10 if 10/10 is ok, instead you get  verbal communications skills that are say 5/10  … Now my scale is pretty reasonable, I listen to candidates all day who come from all over the world, we know exactly what our Clients’ needs are from a verbal communications perspective.

Unlike my colleagues south of the border, working in Canada we have 2 major languages French and English for the purposes of this blog let’s focus on the English Language.  It’s assumed that if you work for a Company where the major language is English and where their clients also speak English, damn, customer support is in English, improving your verbal communications in English makes a lot of sense.  It seems, some candidates whose Mother tongue is not English, still don`t get that, Rosetta Stone works – ok so I need to brush up on my Spanish for when I head to Florida to play golf in the winter.   Speaking in English at home can also go a long way in improving those skills.  If you’ve got an iPhone use it. You can record your voice and play back.  Practice makes perfect, and, if you don’t have an iPhone … well ...  

Why is this such a huge concern for Recruiters?  Our clients want and need Recruiters to deliver on a few things:  Candidates with solid proven experience and qualifications, interpersonal skills and yes, verbal communications.    Great verbal communications skills can separate you from the pack – takes you out of the ``just sit there and write the code`` corner.  You don`t need to be at the level of delivering the “King`s Speech” but you must be clear.  Jokes aside – Great communications skills allows you to be more promotable, makes you stand out,  and if you hope to lead or manage people one day great verbal communications skills is a key component.    So let’s work on those verbal communication skills -we don’t want to have any more Oops moments. 

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Comment by Megan Bell on December 19, 2011 at 11:32am

I fully agree!  I become so frustrated when the resume and the person don't match; or when Administrative Assistant Candidates send me cover letters full of errors; or everything looks perfect but then when I call they drop swear words or slang in the interview.  I wish people would focus on proper English grammar and professional communications more, save the slang for your friends.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 19, 2011 at 1:18pm

@Paul, excellent post.  Something all of us run into particularly in the IT field.  I don't know if it is because we talk slowly in Texas and hear slowly but i have hell understanding candidates who are not native English speakers.

I have found that if i stop them and ask them to speak more slowly sometimes some of the communication problems can be resolved.  But your advice is so important for very bright people to be able to advance their career.  We have to be able to hear you and understand you so help us to help you.

Comment by Paul Alfred on December 19, 2011 at 1:33pm

Thanks for the feedback Megan.  I totally agree with you there.   @Sandra, yes I had to write this blog based on a recent experience .. "Talk slowly and hear slowly"  you're so funny .. It's a pity our clients don't have as much patience ... Hope all is well it  has been a long time ..

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 19, 2011 at 2:43pm

All is well in the great state of Texas.  Watching weather, 14 to 16 inches of snow predicted for today.  No rain or snow in a year, I plan the one trip in a year and a half voila, blizzard on the way.  I  may be sitting in a snow drift with one damn Christmas candle and a bottle of bad champagne writing blogs and singing Deck the Freaking Halls.


Comment by Paul Alfred on December 19, 2011 at 3:39pm

Snow in Texas ... Wooow ... That is pretty weird ... Might need to add a few more bottles ... LOL.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 19, 2011 at 4:37pm
We actually normally get a lot of snow in the northern part of the state usually jan. feb and early march. At Christmas not so much. When we get these puppies they blow in with 40-50 mile an hour winds that gives wonderful drifts about six to eight feet. Going out for more champagne as we speak. If you want to know what the weather is in my part of the world you look out the damn window every hour. Blizzard today and tomorrow, 50 degrees Wed. Explains a lot about west texans. :)
Comment by Paul Alfred on December 19, 2011 at 4:45pm

Well I guess... One can learn something new everyday ... 

Comment by Emer O'Callaghan on December 19, 2011 at 5:32pm

Verbal communication skills are often overlooked in the search for the elusive technical skills.  Yet it is so critical that developers can communicate - how else are they to write code that actually delivers software that users can actually use and that meets their needs?  How will they achieve that if they are not communicating with those users or with the business analysts.

Megan - I completely agree with your comments on the need for good English grammar, correct spelling (spell check - there is no excuse!!!!) and professional language.  Email is still business communication and is not the same as texting your mates!  Call me a pedant but I think there are basic standards we expect professionals to uphold.

Comment by Paul Alfred on December 19, 2011 at 5:51pm

Thanks for the feedback Emer ... We still live in a world where one can still get away with writing code without having to do Business Requirements gathering - where you are forced to use verbal communications.  This is changing however ...

Comment by Emer O'Callaghan on December 19, 2011 at 6:03pm

Yes, the 'anorak' brigade can still get away with sitting at their desks with their ipods in their ears!  But I agree with you that better communicators truly do stand out from the crowd.  When I worked for a large bank some years back - it didn't matter how good your technical skills were, if you couldn't clearly communicate, you weren't even considered.  That also included screening out 'wafflers' - i.e. they could speak clearly - just talked too much and wasted others' time!  The bank got a great product and it was a buzzing IT department!


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