This is where the jobs are.
There is a bright spot in the U.S. employment picture: the health care industry. Health care employers have been adding an average 27,000 jobs a month since December 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
"Finding work in health care is definitely getting easier, but the extra competition means you'll need more than credentials to land those jobs," advises Stephanie Roberson Barnard, a communications consultant and coauthor of Listen. Write. Present: The Elements for Communicating Science and Technology.
"Check any online job-hunting website for science, technical, pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical jobs and you'll find one common requirement: 'excellent communication skills.'"
The science-rich education required for health care professionals leaves little room for learning how to craft a message for a particular audience, be it an e-mail or a PowerPoint presentation, and that is essential not only for getting jobs, but for keeping them and winning promotions.
Barnard and coauthor Deborah St. James, deputy director of publications and communications for a North Carolina biotech company, offers these tips for getting your message across:
* Plan. Take time to get to know your clients, colleagues, and coworkers. Establish rapport and cultivate a collaborative relationship by finding out about others' interests and inquiring about them. Always keep your personal conversations light and professional.
* Listen. Smile, nod, and acknowledge the speaker--and mean it. Really focus on what the person is saying and not just on the words. Effective communication requires your full attention.
* Present. Practice, practice, prance. "Stiff" presenters are the ones who have not done so. They are so busy trying to remember what they are going to say they cannot tune into the audience or deviate from their slides. Speakers who have mastered their content seem to glide about the room, exuding just the right amount of enthusiasm.
* Meet. Respect people's time by presenting materials simply The biggest complaint concerning meetings is that they last too long. Remember, though, never compromise content for simplicity.
* Serve. Be kind to others. It costs nothing and requires no skill. Your kind words, good deed, or thoughtful gift even may launch a cascade of positive gestures among others.
"Good leaders must learn to communicate not only within their field of expertise, but to reach people outside their field of authority, influence, and passion," Barnard emphasizes. "With proper training and practice anyone can become a better communicator."