What Communication Skills Do Employers Want? Silicon Valley Recruiters Respond

By Stevens, Betsy | Journal of Employment Counseling, March 2005 | Go to article overview

What Communication Skills Do Employers Want? Silicon Valley Recruiters Respond


Stevens, Betsy, Journal of Employment Counseling


The purpose of this study was to analyze the satisfaction levels of Silicon Valley employers with the communication skills of newly hired college graduates. Employers reported that oral and written communication skills needed improvement in several areas, including the use of vocabulary and self-expression. College graduates' skills are not always adequate to perform the tasks required on the job. Employers said students needed stronger writing skills; more training on professional uses of e-mail; and additional education regarding self-expression, impression management, and avoidance of slang.

**********

Employment counselors are well aware that communication skills are in demand in the workplace. Successful careers require the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing; these critical competencies will become more valuable as technology intensifies the significant role of messages in the workplace. Language is a powerful force. People in the workplace need to communicate quickly and effectively in messages sent by e-mail and handheld instant messaging devices; in meetings and dyadic encounters; and, of course, in letters, memorandums, and reports.

In this study, I analyzed the survey responses of 104 Silicon Valley employers regarding their satisfaction with the communication skills of their newly hired college graduates. Results showed that employers were less than satisfied with overall communication skills of their new hires and recommended that students receive more training in both oral communication and written communication skills. In addition, they indicated the need for increased facility in using electronic media, such as e-mail and PowerPoint, and training in self-expression and promoting a positive self-image.

Reports from the Department of Labor's Secretary's Commission on Achieving the Necessary Skills show that employers rate communication skills as a top priority for both securing and retaining employment (North & Worth, 1996, 1998). Strong indicators continue to come from employers that oral and written skills are in high demand. Another analysis of Department of Labor data regarding future workplace skills determined that communication skills are essential workplace tools for the 21st century (Locker & Kaczmarek, 2001) and have been correlated with career success and increased financial rewards (Fisher, 1999). College alumni have ranked communication courses as the most important courses that led to their advancement and promotions (Gustafson, Johnson, & Hovey, 1993; Hinkin, 1996; Murphy & Hildebrandt, 1988).

Research shows that people employed in business require strong speaking and writing skills to manage multifaceted and rapidly changing environments (North & Worth, 1998). Electronic communication calls for high levels of writing skills and the ability to communicate precisely. Writing style must be concise and direct, and assiduous editing is required to achieve this. Both employment counselors and professors need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their academic programs; better educate their students to prepare them to work in fast-paced, high-tech environments; and help students maximize the return on their educational investments. Among the best sources for understanding the necessary changes to meet these needs are those who employ newly graduated students.

A systematic search through the Business Communication Quarterly, The Journal of Business Communication, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, and Management Communication Quarterly from 1990 through 2002 yielded very few studies of employers' perceptions of the communication skills of the new hires. Indeed, business communication journals seem to have moved away from examining employers' needs. However, one study surveying Gulf Coast area employers reported that oral communication skills, problem solving, and self-motivation were the three most valued workplace competencies, and a second study found that the ability to follow instructions, listening skills, and conversational skills were highly rated in the workplace (Maes, Weldy, & Icenogle, 1997).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Communication Skills Do Employers Want? Silicon Valley Recruiters Respond
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.