When writing a resume, most of us assume that employees only care about the hard skills. What software can we use? What processes do we know? What machines can we operate?

Believe it or not, though, 61 percent of employers consider soft skills to be equally important when making hiring decisions. 

Communication skills are the most desired soft skills – in fact, they’re a requirement for many positions.

Why? Because without strong interpersonal communication skills, it’s impossible to build relationships, resolve conflict, and achieve common goals. 

We’ve scanned over a million resumes and helped job-seekers optimize their resumes based on real job listings. We know exactly what skills hiring managers are looking for.

jobscan has helped over 1 million users build and optimize their resume

Communication skills are a must-have on your next resume – and we’re here to explain why.

Here’s the 101 on what communication skills are, how to include them on your resume, and which ones employers are looking for the most.

What Are Communication Skills? 

Illustration showing people using nonverbal communication skills.

The term “communication skills” is an umbrella phrase that covers a wide range of abilities, from verbal to nonverbal communication.

It’s not simply a matter of how articulate you are; communication skills involve active listening, emotional intelligence, and more. 

Some of the most common communication skills include: 

  • Active listening 
  • Clear and concise writing 
  • Public speaking 
  • Persuasion/negotiation 
  • Emotional intelligence 

As you can see, there’s more to being a good communicator than first meets the eye.

Employers want to know that you have the ability to not only communicate your own ideas but also understand and respond to the communication of others. 

Why You Need Communication Skills 

So, why are communication skills so important? Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons: 

  • Communication is how we build relationships – Strong communication skills are essential for maintaining positive relationships with co-workers, customers, and clients. 
  • Communication allows us to resolve conflict – When conflict arises (and it will), being able to effectively communicate with those involved is crucial for finding a resolution that everyone can live with. 
  • Communication lets teams achieve common goals – In order to work together to achieve common goals, we need to be able to communicate effectively with one another. 
  • Communication is how we give and receive feedback – Feedback is a crucial part of growth, both professionally and personally. Strong communication skills are necessary for giving feedback that is clear, concise, and helpful as well as being able to receive feedback gracefully.

As you can see, communication skills touch on all aspects of our professional and personal lives.

They’re essential for building positive relationships, resolving conflict, working together as a team, and continuing to grow and develop. 

Different Communication Skills To Highlight On Your Resume 

Communication skills can be divided into two main categories: verbal and nonverbal communication.

Let’s take a closer look at each one. 

Verbal communication skills 

Illustration showing people using verbal communication skills.

Verbal communication skills are those that involve using words to communicate.

This could be communicating in the form of face-to-face conversation, over the phone, or even in writing. 

Some verbal communication skills examples include: 

  • Speaking clearly and concisely – Employers are looking for candidates who can communicate their ideas in a clear and concise manner – people who can get their point across without beating around the bush. 
  • Listening actively – Active listening is a key communication skill that involves not only hearing what the other person is saying but also taking the time to understand and process it. This includes being able to ask clarifying questions when needed. 
  • Giving and receiving feedback – As we mentioned before, giving and receiving feedback is an important part of communication, and one that employers will be paying close attention to. 

Verbal communication is often what people think of first when they think of communication skills – but remember, there’s a whole other side to the story! 

Nonverbal communication skills 

Illustration with woman pointing out the top communication skills employers look for.

Did you know that more than 70 percent of our communication takes place nonverbally?

Some experts even estimate that as much as 93 percent of communication is nonverbal – so it’s a pretty big deal.

Nonverbal communication is any type of communication that doesn’t involve using words. This could be body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, or even the way we dress. 

Some nonverbal communication skills examples include: 

  • Reading body language – Being able to read and understand the nonverbal cues of those around us is a key part of effective communication. It allows us to better understand how they’re feeling and what they’re trying to say. 
  • Using facial expressions – Our facial expressions can communicate a lot about how we’re feeling, even when we don’t say a word. 
  • Maintaining eye contact – Without eye contact, it can be difficult to build trust and rapport with others. 

So, there you have it – some of the most common communication skills to be aware of.

But what specific skills or abilities are employers looking for in an interview? How can you explain your communication skills on your resume?

The Top 5 Communication Skills Employers Look For 

According to research from Capterra, up to three-quarters of large companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen resumes and job applications.

They’re looking for keywords to make the process easier – and those keywords are often related to specific skills. 

When it comes to communication skills, these are some of the buzzwords your employers might look for: 

1. Active listening 

It’s not enough to simply hear what somebody is saying in the workplace – you need to be able to understand and process it too.

Active listening involves taking in the whole message, not just the words, and responding accordingly.

This is a key communication skill for any workplace. 

Employers want to see that you can: 

  • Listen to and understand what people are saying 
  • Give your full attention to the speaker 
  • Ask questions to clarify information
  • Summarize or repeat back what has been said 
  • Show that you’re engaged in the conversation 

To show that you have active listening skills on your resume, try to include examples of times when you’ve used them in the workplace.

This could be anything from leading a team meeting to resolving a conflict with a coworker.


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2. Empathy 

Employers are more eager than ever to find emotionally competent employees.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.

It’s a key ingredient in strong workplace relationships, and it’s something that employers value highly. 

Some ways to show empathy in the workplace include: 

  • Being aware of other people’s feelings and perspectives 
  • Listening with patience and understanding 
  • Responding with sensitivity and compassion 
  • Asking questions to clarify someone else’s experience 
  • Avoiding making assumptions about others’ feelings 
  • Never talking down to someone 

If you want to highlight your empathy skills on your resume, try to include examples of giving constructive feedback or supporting a coworker through a difficult time. 

3. Confidence 

A good communicator is someone who is confident in themselves and their abilities.

This doesn’t mean being cocky or overbearing, but rather having a healthy sense of self-assurance. 

Some ways to show confidence in the workplace include: 

  • Standing up for yourself and your beliefs 
  • Speaking up in meetings and group discussions 
  • Sharing your ideas and opinions openly 
  • Being assertive without being aggressive 
  • Accepting feedback gracefully

To demonstrate your confidence on your resume, you might highlight a time when you gave a presentation or took charge of a project. 

4. Friendliness 

This might seem overly simple for a resume soft skill, but you’d be surprised how many job applicants come across as cold or unapproachable.

Being friendly is an important part of building strong workplace relationships, and it’s a quality that employers value. 

Some ways to be more friendly in the workplace include: 

  • Greeting people warmly when you see them 
  • Offering help or assistance when you can 
  • Asking questions about others’ interests and hobbies 
  • Taking an interest in new coworkers 
  • Celebrating birthdays and workplace milestones 

Remember, employers want to see your humanity, not just your higher education or long list of talents! 

5. Clarity and directness 

This is another soft skill that’s often overlooked but is very important in the workplace.

Being able to communicate clearly and directly is essential in any work environment, especially when it comes to giving or receiving instructions. 

Some ways to be clear and direct in your communication include: 

  • Speaking in a clear, concise manner 
  • Using “I” statements 
  • Avoiding ambiguity or vagueness in your language 
  • Giving specific examples to illustrate your point 
  • Asking for clarification if you’re unsure about something 
  • Listening carefully to ensure you understand what’s being said 

Clear communication is a key part of any successful workplace, so make sure it’s included on your resume with the rest of your work related skills.

Developing Communication Skills for Future Jobs 

If you’re reading the communication skills examples listed above and feeling a little lost, don’t worry. These skills can be learned and developed over time.

The key is to start practicing now so that you can be prepared for future opportunities. 

Here are a few suggestions for developing your communication skills: 

1. Join a Toastmasters club: This organization helps its members improve their public speaking and leadership skills. 

2. Take a class: Many community colleges offer adult education classes on topics like effective communication, business writing, and public speaking. 

3. Get a mentor: Ask a friend, family member, or trusted coworker to help you improve your communication skills. They can give you feedback and offer suggestions for improvement. 

It’s never too late to start developing your people skills.

By taking the time to improve these important abilities, you’ll be better prepared for success in your future career.

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