According to this article from CNBC, there are five jobs skills to master if you’re on the job market. Do you know what ranks alongside data science, artificial intelligence, & cybersecurity as a top job skill? Communication.

Why? The ability to clearly communicate, engage an audience, and effectively manage conflict with diverse people across teams is critical. A company can have the best programmers in the world, but it won’t be successful if they’re incapable of active listening and conflict resolution. That’s why Communication is one of the five jobs skills to master if you’re on the job market.

According to Vivek Ravisankar, CEO of HackerRank (a technical recruiting platform), remote work is requiring us to re-think what skills are the most valuable in the workplace. Ravisankar says, “with less human interaction in the physical world, the ability to clearly communicate with one another in more succinct, caring ways will be more in demand. Most of our communication will be via video conferencing, phone or written communications, so people need to start honing their skills in these areas to be effective remote workers. Emotional intelligence and social intelligence will also be highly valued, as we will all need to learn to be more empathetic and understanding of technical difficulties, miscommunications and ‘crossed wires’ when communicating with one another.”

It’s ironic. We often think we’re good at communication — but others aren’t. (It’s kind of like going to the beach during a global pandemic and getting upset it’s crowded because so many other people are there. We don’t always recognize when we’re part of the problem.)

One Thing You Can Do to Improve Your Communication Skills

Become a better listener. So often, people think they’re listening when really they’re just pausing and waiting until they can talk again. But listening isn’t a pause in the conversation. Listening isn’t passive; it’s active. Listen to understand. Listen to empathize. Try to paraphrase what you’ve heard. Put it in your own words and ask for consensus before continuing the conversation. That’s one way to prevent miscommunication at work.

When it comes to the job market, your resume and cover letter reflect your ability to communicate in writing. The job interview reflects your ability to verbally communicate, and it reflects your ability to listen. Repeat the interviewer’s question and connect it to something specific in the job description or an article about the company. Ask questions directly related to something they mentioned earlier in the conversation. Active listening demonstrate you’re paying attention! It indicates to them that you hear them, understand them, and can help them as a potential employee.

Today, in the era of “social distancing,” people feel isolated and disconnected. Active listening can help combat that.

It’s a great way to show potential employers that, even if you’re working remotely, you’re still very present and ready to do the work.