Communication or Communications
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see the following listed as requirements on a job description: candidate must possess good oral and written communications skills. But is it communication or communications.
What’s wrong with that?
Nothing is wrong with the requested requirement, but it should have read, candidate must possess good oral and written communication skills. There is no ‘s’ on the end, unless you are referring to a communications system.
Communications is a system for communicating. It might refer to a telephone, a computer, a TV, radio, or any other kind of technology to converse or communicate with someone else. A person who works for the phone company might be called a communications professional.
Communication is the art or process of communicating. It could be through speech, writing, email, or sign language. It doesn’t matter. People might use a communications system to communicate.
So, when HR people write that they need someone with good communications skills for the job, perhaps they better start by analyzing their current employees. Someone needs to brush up on their own communication skills.
I know. I know. No big deal, you might say. But if a prospective company is lax about how they write their job description, then what else are they going to be lax about? What does that say about their marketing plan or their ability to compete on cost worldwide?
If I see a mistake like this on a job description, I think of two things—either the company didn’t care enough to ensure the job description was written properly, or, they didn’t know it wasn’t proper. The problem is, no matter which assumption is right, it has taken the glow off the prospect. Unless I’m desperate (which is not the kind of employee you want to attract), I’m no longer interested.
Remember, the company applies the same kind of scrutiny to your resume.
So, what do you do to fix this type of problem? To resolve problems like this, whether to use communication or communications, the easiest, and best, solution, is to hire someone originally who knows the difference. The next best solution is to hire someone who can learn the differences, and the last solution is to hire a consultant to look over material before you publish it. Any of these will work. The thing you don’t want to do—**is nothing.
No Mistakes Grammar, Volume I, Misused Words will teach you the subtle meaning of word choice.
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Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing. See the complete list here
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”