Being able to write well is crucial to your career. Whether you are crafting résumés, emails, or memos, the message must be clear and correct. Employers in all fields are looking for candidates who can speak and write well in order to become active and productive members of their business.
A recent study completed by the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges concluded that poorly written job applications will ruin your chances for employment, and large companies are spending up to $3 billion each year to improve writing skills among their current employees. The Commission is comprised of K-12 and postsecondary educators.
The Commission surveyed 120 human resource directors in U.S. companies with combined annual revenues of more than $4 trillion. According to the report:
- People who cannot write and communicate clearly will not be hired and, if already working, are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion.
- Two-thirds of salaried employees in large American companies have some writing responsibility.
- Eighty percent or more of the companies surveyed look at writing during the hiring process.
- More than 40 percent of the firms offer or require training for salaried employees with writing deficiencies.
Impressing Possible Employers
Your writing ability reflects your critical thinking, organization, and decision-making skills. Many times, employers immediately throw away poorly written applications, cover letters, or résumés. Several companies are beginning to ask job applicants to write a narrative description of their work experience rather than just providing a résumé. According to many college professors, lawyers, or anyone else who is hiring, it is common to hear the same thing: We have the smartest young people we have ever had, but they just cannot write well.
Tips for Writing Success
Keep the following in mind when you are applying for a position or communicating at work:
- Know and understand what you are writing about and to whom you are writing.
- Creating an outline for large projects will help you determine the order of information.
- Use simple and concise language. Short sentences are generally better, but vary the sentence length to add variety without sacrificing clarity.
- Be clear with the intent of your communication and organize information in a logical sequence.
- Express one idea per paragraph in a topic sentence, which gives the purpose of the paragraph and is usually the opening sentence. Follow with supporting details.
- Illustrate the points you make with concrete evidence.•
- Delete unnecessary words or phrases that do not add clarity or essential information.
- Be polite, especially in emails and letters. A “please” and “thank you” go a long way.
- Proofread your writing for spelling, grammatical, and factual errors. Let someone else review your work, especially your large projects.
- Learn how to write for different mediums. The amount of written materials produced by companies is staggering—operating manuals, company policies, memos, letters, technical reports, and emails are just a few examples. Review past examples and understand what your organization is asking of you.
- Use a general grammar book and other resources. Examples of how to write essays, proposals, résumés, cover letters, and memos are available online and in numerous writing guides.
Refresh Your Writing Skills through Victoria College
Start a path to a college degree, prepare for a promotion, or embark on a new career goal with the education opportunities offered at Victoria College.
In addition to VC’s credit programs that lead to a degree, certificate, or academic transfer, Victoria College offers Workforce & Continuing Education courses such as Writing Essentials, Résumé Writing, and Grant Writing. For more information, visit VictoriaCollege.edu, click on “Workforce & Continuing Education,” click on “Leisure Learning,” and then click on the Workforce & Continuing Education course schedule.
by Tom Caylor and Nikki Sarpolis