5 essential skills to become a better communicator

Our lives are about communicating; be it to convey information via the written word or feelings via body language, or even to communicating emotions through art and music. We rely on communication on all its levels to navigate our lives yet we rarely consider it a skill that we can cultivate. Yet truly taking the time to develop good communication skills can benefit you in all aspects of your life, especially professionally. In addition to the ‘hard skills’ you gain during vocational training, employers also look for so called ‘soft skills’ such as writing, organisation and communication skills. In fact, communication skills were recent ranked the second most desired ‘soft skill’ by employers. Although these skills do not come naturally to all of us, the great thing about ‘soft skills’ is that they can be learnt just as ‘hard skills’ are. Taking the time to foster skills in the ability to communicate effectively and you could find yourself excelling in both your personal and professional life. To get you started, here are 5 key skills that can help you to become a better communicator:

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1: Be concise and direct

Your audience often doesn’t need all of the details in order to understand the message you are trying to communicate, and including them can often obscure your central message. Often, the simplest version is sufficient, and if more details are required then they can be requested. Being succinct will help you to become a better communicator by eliminating time spent on unnecessary discussions allowing you to spend more time on other matters.

2: Select the appropriate method of communication

In a professional setting where multiple means of communication are used; phone, email, meetings etc different methods are appropriate for different tasks. An email, for example, can be more useful for conveying the same simple message to many people at the same time. Ideally this would also be used when any discussion can be solved simply. When the message is more complicated, or will require considerable discussion but needs to be amongst many people, a meeting is more appropriate. Choosing your communication method badly can be often be tedious and inefficient, whereas good skills will lead to increased productivity and satisfaction within the workplace.

3: Listen

Communication is not just about what you do, it’s also about what you don’t do. Listening to people during face-to-face conversation, both in what they say and how they say it is important to resolving matters as efficiently as possible and avoiding unwarranted disagreements.

4: Be assertive

Clearly expressing your views or ideas is a key communication skill by promoting confidence and decision-making, thus increasing employee satisfaction within the workplace. Importantly though, assertive is more about honesty and being able to calmly expressing opinions in a respectful manner rather than being demanding or aggressive.

5: Staying calm under pressure

Emotions can easily cloud judgement which will hinder good communication. A good communicator will be skilled in keeping their emotions from affecting their ability to express their intentions clearly. In stressful situations they may be careful to take the time to think before delivering a verbal or written message, or may use tactics to stall conversation to give themselves time to collect their thoughts.

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Cyber Security Predictions for 2017

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Even the most dedicated of luddites does not need to be told how entrenched digital technology is within our society. The way we watch TV, manage businesses, control our finances and socialise has been rapidly revolutionised and will no doubt continue to be radicalised as digital technology becomes increasingly sophisticated.

But, along with digital innovation comes threat innovation. Viruses and malware may have been in our awareness since the early days of computing but we’re now entering a whole new era of cyber threats. When viruses first entered our radar, digital technology was an optional addition to regular life. Damage to files as a result of a virus was more of an inconvenience than a danger and the data that could be obtained was most likely to be of little value. Take now however where the line between ‘real life’ and ‘digital life’ is becoming increasingly blurred, and data is clearly of greater value than it ever has been before.

Obtaining access to bank accounts, naturally, comprises a large amount of cyber crime. However nefariously obtaining data can serve more than the obvious means, too. For example, rival companies, political adversaries and military opponents can all benefit from gaining access to their competitors data.

Evidently, data is the new currency of this era and the industry is on to it. Until now, on average less than 3% of capital expenditures has been allocated towards security but this is beginning to change. In 2016 security sales increased by 17% for Cisco and 18% for IBM. Likewise Obama has proposed to allocate $19 billion towards the nations cyber security. Over the next 5 years, it is estimated that worldwide spending on cyber security will exceed $1 trillion, and that average spending of capital expenditure on security will exceed 12%.

So, with more money being allocated towards defense against cyber threats what changes can we expect to see in cyber security over the next year?

One aspect of cyber security that has been slowly appearing over the last year or so is the use of additional or alternative methods of providing passwords. Think pattern based passwords, finger print readers on phones and computers or face recognition software. Once it may have seemed a thing of the future, but now it’s here and it’s looking as though it may be a more common way of replacing or using in conjunction with standard password-based access systems.

Another, albeit more subtle, aspect of society that is predicted to enter our awareness over the next year is introducing greater personal control of privacy settings. For many years, the more cautious among us have known to shred all items of paperwork containing personal information on lest it end up in the wrong hands. Yet, many of us do not pay the same attention to our online behaviour. Consequently, a large amount of the data exchanged daily is unknowingly left scattered around the internet ether ready for collection by anyone who cares to take on the task. This is a potential risk to personal security but also for cooperations when employees combine their personal actives with cooperate activities. It is thus anticipated that users will be made more aware of instances where their privacy is not secure, and users may also increasingly be expected to pass ‘confirmation’ walls in order to access pages where their behaviour may not be private.

Benefits of outsourcing recruitment

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1 Reduce cost per hire

When directed in-house, the costs of recruitment can quickly mount up. Advertising on job boards, dedicating HR staff to read and screen CVs and conducting interviews all make a significant dent to company funds. Depending on the level of the job vacancy, as some may require several rounds of screening and interview, these costs can be significant. For example, an Oxford Economics report estimated that replacing a high tier employee can cost upwards of £30,000. Outsourcing recruitment streamlines the process and allows you to combine all of these costs into one simple and often cheaper fee. In addition, you only need to pay the recruitment fees while you are using them meaning that if your company employee turnover is low, you may only need to pay a one-off fee every few years rather than maintain a dedicated team in the HR department.

 

2 Allows your employees to focus on their key roles

Unless you have a dedicated recruitment team, chances are your recruitment is taken on by members of management alongside their other tasks. Although filling a vacancy is important to your business, this takes valuable time away from your employees that would otherwise be spent fulfilling their standard obligations. By allowing your staff to focus on their main duties, and outsourcing recruitment you can save on company time and increase your businesses efficiency.

 

3 Recruitment agencies can obtain better quality hires

Recruitment consultants are – by name – professionals at recruiting. They are skilled in identifying attributes of protective candidates that would be an asset to your company, while efficiently weeding out those that are not appropriate for the role. As experienced recruiters, they can also provide advice on aspects that you may not have considered to be important for the role or offer alternative attributes that it may be worth seeking from your candidates.

In addition, when a company conducts their own recruitment they are usually relying on the right person for the job seeing the job advert at the right time. Recruitment agencies on the other hand will already have access to a selection of candidates that are suitable for the role and can contact them directly. This increases your chances of filling your vacancy with the best person for the position.

 

4 Time efficient

Conducting your own recruitment is not only expensive, but is also very time consuming. You may, for example, wish to leave your adverts open for a long period of time to increase your chances of obtaining a good quality candidate. Then, there is the time it takes to screen candidates and conduct interviews. The longer this process takes, the longer your company must cope without an employee fulfilling the roles of the vacancy which can put incredible strain on your team. Outsourcing your recruitment, however, cuts out all of these stages and can often mean a vacancy is filled in a matter of days other than a matter of weeks when the hire is conducted internally.

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A career in telecoms: why the future is so bright

Given the outstanding growth in the telecommunications industry over the past 10 years, it seems outrageous that it could continue to grow. But according to recent forecasts, it will. At an unprecedented rate. Currently, the telecoms industry capitalises on a market of 1.7 billion internet users and 4.6 billion mobile users. Yet it is estimated that this is going to increase to 4.7 billion internet users and 6 billion mobile users. Connectivity matters more now that it ever has before, and will form the basis for the acceleration of the telecoms industry over the next 10 years. Within the next decade, we will also begin to see a new wave of technology designers enter the industry who have been in a digital world their entire lives. This increase in global usage of telecoms technology and demographic change has the potential to take the telecoms technology into unparalleled realms.

The prospect of the new technology that is going to emerge in the future is exciting. But, for anyone working or interested in working in the telecommunications industry, the future of careers in telecoms is the real attraction. The primary reason for this is that a larger market of telecom technology users means that a greater number of jobs will be available purely in maintaining telecoms access to millions of customers. And, in addition, new technology opens up the prospect of new careers in all stages of design, manufacture and distribution of telecoms products. Likewise, new technology opens up the space for telecoms entrepreneurs that design software utilising new technology in original ways. Most of all, the current projections for the future of telecoms mean one thing: career stability. Now that telecommunications technology underpins both business and personal communication, a telecom professional can be sure that there will always be a need for their industry.

Take for instance, mobile communication. According to Cisco, in 2015 alone, worldwide mobile data traffic grew by 74%. The main reason for this is the rapid uptake of mobile technology in new regions. Of the mobile data growth in 2015, the highest growth rate was in the Middle East and Africa at 117% closely followed by Pacific Asia at 83% and Latin America at 73%. Following these trends, worldwide mobile data traffic is estimated to increase 8 fold between 2015 and 2020. Successfully capitalising on new markets in the mobile telecommunications sector could mean thousands, if not – hundreds of thousands – of new jobs in this sector.

In addition, in the next 10 years it is anticipated that we will experience growth in the Machine to Machine or M2M sector which utilises automatic telecommunication between machines. Currently, M2M is primarily used in technology to automatically report automotive collisions but also has the potential to be developed for integration with mobile technology for automatic payment systems among others.

With telecommunication now being such an important part of modern life, it’s somewhat unsurprising that now is a better time than ever to consider a career in telecoms.

Contact us today to discover a career in telecoms.

5 tips on how best to prepare for an interview

1. Dress to impress

Interviews are all about first impressions, and what you wear to an interview will speak volumes about your commitment and enthusiasm for the job – not to mention your ability to appropriately present yourself in a formal situation. Never worry about being overdressed; if you’re the only candidate in a suit and tie you will stand out above the rest.

2. Tell your story

The focus of the interview will be on you, so be sure to have your relevant stories, experience and qualifications to hand. Make sure what you say in the interview matches your CV and cover letter, as they will likely have these documents in front of them as they question you.  Write down why you think you would excel in the role and as part of the company, and practice saying it out loud:  now is not the time for modesty!

3. Know the company & role

Showing that you’ve taken the time to research the company and role you’ve applied to work at will reassure the interviewer that you would take the job seriously and perform to the best of your ability. As well as your knowledge, showing your admiration for the organisation can also be an effective way to make a good impression – as long as it’s not insincere or over the top, few people are immune to flattery. Allow AT LEAST an hour in preparation on the company and another hour on the role, and you’ll be in good shape.

4. Prepare your questions

Always have two or three POSITIVE questions prepared in advance that show you to be inquisitive and interested in the company you potentially are going to work for. Positive questions are those that delve deep into the fibre of the company, and could be – “Tell me about a recent client win”, “what is the company’s strategy for growing over the next 12 months” and “tell me about the last person you’ve hired who has exceeded expectations”. Avoid negative questions like what are my working hours and how many holidays will I get?

5. Ask for feedback

It’s normal to become flustered under pressure, but the single most important thing to ask in an interview at the end is for feedback. This question allows you to address any concerns or reservations the client may have about you, and gives YOU the opportunity to address there and then. Assuming there are no concerns, ask for next steps, timescales and process. Again it shows you’re genuinely interested in what’s going to happen.

And don’t forget if you’re not used to asking for feedback – PRACTICE asking the question out loud!

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Essential Presentation Tips

(1)MinTextMaxImagery1 Minimal text, maximum imagery

There’s a reason that you are giving a presentation in person, rather than sending all of the attendees a word document detailing the contents of the presentation. The audience is there to listen to what you have to say. Although it’s tempting to overload your slides with large blocks of detailed text, even the best multi-taskers find it very difficult to listen at the same time as reading complex text. So, unless you’re planning on providing your audience with an awkward pause to read a block of text, provide details verbally and use your slides to provide interesting imagery that supports your point.

 

 

 

(2)KeepStyleSimple2 Keep your style simple and consistent

We’ve all attended one of those presentations that look as though the speaker has a dedicated graphic design team. Chances are, if you’re reading this list, that you don’t have a graphic design team. While aspiring to having a slick and well designed presentation isn’t a bad thing, it can easily become overcomplicated and overthought which leads to the design detracting from the point of the presentation. So, although showering your presentation slides with different typefaces, colours and animations may feel like you’re making your presentation look more interesting – it may be doing more to distract your audience from listening to you. What’s best, especially if you’re likely to be giving the same presentation again and again, is to pick a simple style and stick with it. Bells and whistles can be easily added verbally or with adding interesting images to your slide, and will save you a lot of time rather than messing around with adding animations.

 

 

(3)PracticeWithoutScript3 Practice without a script
It is tempting to follow a script when practicing, especially if you’re nervous about public speaking. But even for the most nervous of speakers, explaining your topic naturally is not only easier for the audience to listen to but also enables you to be more adaptable to your audience.

AIB

Featured in Aib Business

We’re delighted to have been asked by AIB, who are one of Ireland’s leading retail & business banks, to provide some insight into how organisations can derisk the hiring process. Based upon our experiences, and what we do every day in the technology sector, we’ve come up with some recommendations to follow. Or not as the case may be!!

Hope you enjoy it, and let us know if we can help.