In a technologically driven world, many students no longer see writing as a relevant skill to their career path. This mistaken view, unfortunately, leaves students who fail to take writing seriously in college at a disadvantage after graduation.
Are Writing Skills Necessary?
As it turns out, writing skills are incredibly important in the modern workplace, no matter your major.
National surveys of business indicate that 82 percent of employers list the ability to communicate effectively as very important. When hiring recent college graduates, employers place the greatest priority on a “demonstrated proficiency in skills that cut across majors.” Writing skills near the top of the list.
Writing skills are also among the most requested baseline (or soft) skills regardless of job and occupation.
According to Burning Glass Technologies—a software company that mines data from employment ads to find real-time job trends—writing and communication skills are “scarce everywhere,” yet they are “in demand across nearly every occupation.”
Even in engineering and IT occupations, which many would not associate with strong requirements for writing skills, writing is the second-most-requested baseline skill, and these baseline skills account for one in four skills requested by other highly technical jobs like healthcare and finance. Despite the overwhelming demand for written communications skills, many students still face challenges forming sentences, choosing their words, and organizing their thoughts.
How Can I Become a Better Writer?
There is no easy path to becoming a better writer, but there are steps you can take that will ensure you make progress. In most cases, writing skills are best acquired through the act writing itself. The more you write, the more likely you are to improve your writing.
What this means for a student is take your writing assignments seriously, especially if you are in a major that doesn’t require much writing. For those writing assignments you do have, take the time to organize your thoughts, write, re-write, and edit your work.
Another way to improve your writing is to read. Reading others’ work gives you a feel for forming coherent sentences, refining word choice, and learning the rhythm of readable prose.
Almost a quarter of American adults say they haven’t read a book—in whole or in part—in the last year. Reading just one or two good books a year can help set your writing above almost 25 percent of all Americans.
Setting Yourself Apart in Your Career
In many fields, a baseline understanding of the job or occupation is assumed. For example, if you’re applying for an accounting job, it’s likely assumed you have a working knowledge of accounting.
Your writing, however, provides you an excellent way to lift yourself above the rest of the applicants. And since someone’s written work is usually the first interaction a hiring manager has with an applicant, your words are your introduction. They are your only chance to make a good first impression.
In other words, take your writing seriously.
If you don’t know a particular word usage, look it up. And always—and I mean always—proofread your work. Even the smallest typos can make you look disorganized, but they can also change the meaning of your sentences entirely (Consider a common mistake bear with me vs. bare with me.).
Writing skills are in demand everywhere—and they cut across jobs, occupations, professions, careers, etc.
If you make yourself stand out with your writing, your career will be successful from the start.