Developer. Head of Innovation. Intern. CEO. Junior Software Engineer. Salesperson. It doesn’t matter what type of job it is, every single one of them has something in common — you need practical communication skills. It’s how you can understand people and how they understand you so you can work together.

It isn’t just that, either. Speaking and listening is only a part of it, as you need to have empathy, observe, give feedback, speak publicly and so much more. Then to break it down further, you need to understand how they all differ depending on how you communicate, ranging from in-person to emails.

If you want to become a better communicator ahead of landing your dream job, here are the communication skills you need to be aware of, what they mean and how they work in a real-life setting.


Responsiveness is how long it takes you to respond to someone and the quality of your reply. It’s essential when you work as part of a team and it’s most common when you receive a phone call or an email and you need to reply. The best communicators respond in a timely manner and with well thought out, effective answers.

An example of this could be a teammate emailing you for an update on the project. A bad communicator would read the email and ignore it, potentially jeopardizing a project’s success. To be a good communicator, you should think about how long your reply will take. If it’s quick, address it as soon as possible. If it takes a while, you can acknowledge that you received the email and reply later.

That goes a long way.

Active listening

This is a communication skill where you pay close attention to the person speaking to you. It’s another critical communication skill in the workplace, as it shows you have empathy and respect for the person.

An example of this could be any conversation at work or even via video conference if you work remotely. If somebody is talking to you and opening up to you, you shouldn’t come across as distracted or disinterested. That means don’t look at your phone, emails or anything that comes across as rude. 

Focus on the speaker and respond thoughtfully to what they say, so they know they can confide in you.

Body language

Not all communication is verbal. Body language, eye contact and facial expressions are all effective means of communication, and understanding nonverbal cues are what will make you a fantastic communicator.

An example of this is if you spot a teammate looking stressed and their body language gets weaker and more hostile by the day. Here, approaching them and asking what’s wrong or lending a helping hand goes a long way. Ignoring them isn’t the answer. The same goes for the body language you show, as it’ll rub off on others.


Friendliness is when you show goodwill, warmth and kindness to those around you. It’s a trait necessary in everyday life but also the workplace. When working with your team, approaching every interaction with a smile on your face, an open mind and a positive attitude will make you come across as a friendly presence.

An example of this is the small gestures you can adopt. Ask people how their day is going. Smile when you talk to them. Praise them when they do good work. Doing all of this will help you come across as friendly as you build strong relationships with your teammates.

It also makes you come across as approachable. Regularly chatting to and mingling with your teammates is great, whereas sitting alone in the corner five days a week suggests you’re unapproachable and aren’t friendly.


Respect is how you treat someone or think about them in high regard. The more polite and kind you are, the more respect you’re likely to gain from your peers. A lot falls into respect as a whole, including listening, empathy, apologizing and showing gratitude. All of these — and more — combined create a sense of respect.

An example of this in the workplace could be respecting people’s time. For instance, apologizing if you’re late to meetings, being complimentary when people do good work or acknowledging other people’s ideas and input. It’s also about setting the standard and showing up in a way that positively influences others.


Empathy is all about understanding the sharing the emotions of people around you. Having compassion means your listening and communicating skills will help you choose the appropriate responses without letting a situation spiral out of control, regardless of whether it’s teamwide or on a one-on-one basis.

An example of this in the workplace could be if somebody you’re managing is showing frustration or anger. Having empathy will help you understand their perspective and diffuse the emotions they’re showing. Not having empathy skills means there’s always a danger of ignoring them, making the problem worse, saying something wrong and letting their feelings spiral out of control.


A strong communicator is not only able to receive feedback but also deliver both excellent feedback and constructive criticism effectively. If somebody at work is critical of your work, having good communication skills means you shouldn’t take it personally and understand it isn’t an attack on your character.

The same goes for delivering feedback. It’s vital to give it so the recipient knows it’s a fair view of their work, not them personally.

Volume and clarity

Although self-explanatory, volume is how loud or quiet your voice is and clarity is how clear you sound. Failing to be skilled in either of these won’t make you an effective communicator, especially when working within a team.

There’s no way around it — you must be clear and audible when speaking. The important thing is to know when you need to adapt to certain situations. For example, mumbling isn’t effective as nobody can hear you. Still, it’s crucial to speak quietly if you’re discussing a sensitive subject with someone, rather than being so loud it comes across as disrespectful.

Read the room, understand the situation and know how to adapt your volume.


Confidence is when you believe in yourself and the ideas you bring forward. If you ever pitch an idea at work, a nervous approach wouldn’t have people believing in you. Confidence isn’t just about who shouts the loudest, either. It combines many aspects, such as eye contact, sitting straight, shoulders wide and looking unfazed.

The job interview is a perfect example. If you have confidence listed as a strong communication skill in your resume, you need to showcase that in the interview so the recruiters believe in you. That involves speaking clearly, maintaining eye contact, speaking at the right volume and showing that you’re prepared.

All of these communication skills are essential in the workplace. Identify where you need to improve the most and try to work on your communication habits. For example, you could set yourself a goal of delivering one piece of feedback each day if that’s the area where you struggle the most.

As long as you’re clear, concise, show empathy and be calm and consistent, you’re on your way to being an effective communicator at work. For more support on highlighting these skills on your resume, register with VanHack today.

The platform is designed for tech professionals to showcase their true potential. Sign up to create and complete your in-depth profile, film videos to help recruiters know who you are and complete challenges to showcase your skills.

If that wasn’t enough, the VanHack Premium Academy is the go-to stop if you need help preparing for your interview with mock questions, answers and more. Get started today to land your perfect job.

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