Digital communication has become ubiquitous, especially for success in the workplace. In 2002, cell phones and the Internet replaced the television as the second-most indispensable technology, according to the Center for Public Education. Career-minded individuals can tap into digital communication skills to increase efficiency, network, or implement innovative business solutions.
One of the primary career advantages in refining digital communication skills is that they are highly valued by employers. In a July 7, 2012 Forbes.com article, “Why You Should Be Hiring Millenials,” Matt Miller reports that employers consider workers with links to top social media platforms to be company assets because it increases “a company’s digital reach” in terms of promoting a brand or product. Younger workers have proven extremely adept at juggling digital communication venues; Miller reports that “millenials” (individuals born between 1976 and 2001) switch between digital communication tools such as smartphones and laptops 27 times per hour, as opposed to the 17 times per hour completed by older workers.
Mastering digital communication skills also demonstrates efficiency, a major bonus for employers when considering worker productivity. Employers want to know that employees are effectively delivering information to wide audiences. Understanding digital communication makes it easier to deliver content and information in more sophisticated ways; for example, layering an embedded product video in an email with a hyperlink to the company website. Digital communication platforms can also help boost career goals internationally – a much broader consumer base can be achieved without exponentially increasing the bottom line. Career-minded individuals could use this consumer accessibility to their advantage.
Digital communication skills can help reinforce traditional communication to seal the deal when making a presentation or working with clients. When a client wavers between two options, for example, using a digital whiteboard to expertly showcase the product differences not only demonstrates knowledge but timely, customer-oriented interaction. Developing a reputation as digitally competent and customer-minded can propel a career forward.
In a fairly litigious business world, digital communication provides a stable foundation for documentation. When used correctly, digital communication can easily provide documentation of correspondence, conversation, and collaboration. This sword cuts both ways, however. Career-focused individuals should remember that many companies monitor business email accounts, so digital communication should never translate to informal or unprofessional communication.
Another reason why digital communication remains so important relates to perception. Technophobes and digital dinosaurs might make light of their inability to check their voicemail, send a text, or navigate social media platforms – but this doesn’t reflect well in a forward-thinking organization. Demonstrating knowledge and appropriate or innovative use of digital communication tools helps employers see workers as tapped in, linked up, and culturally savvy.
Although employers increasingly value digital communication skills in the workplace, well-rounded employees don’t forget that traditional, in-person communication skills remain important factors in workplace success. Writing for Boston.com, Chad O’Connor recommends taking a communication class to reinforce interpersonal basics like listening, making presentations, and understanding non-verbal cues such as body language or tone.
- Jerald, Craig. Center for Public Education: Defining a 21st Century Education, July 2009.
- Miller, Matt. Forbes.com: Why You Should Be Hiring Millennials, July 3, 2012.
- O'Connor, Chad. Boston.com: Self-Improvement: 6 Things You Can Do to Enhance Yourself and Career. September 12, 2012.
- School of International Service: Skills Institutes.
- BigFuture.com: Major: Digital Communications and Multimedia
- Iowa State University: College of Business Center Responds to Employer Call for Better Communication Skills. April 22, 2011.
- Kreuger, Vicki. Knight Foundation: Teaching Journalism Skills in the Digital Age. October 10, 2012.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images