73% Of Employers Are Looking For This Skill. Do You Have It?

Photo by Luke Thornton on Unsplash

One of the key specialties of humans is our ability to communicate with each other. That’s how we share ideas, motivate each other and achieve shared goals.

Today, a large part of this communication is written which makes it obvious to have people who’re good at getting their ideas across through the written word.

But look at most email chains in your inbox and you’ll see this is not the case. Poor communication delays projects, irritate people, and costs companies hard-earned dollars.

We might know our language well, but that doesn’t make us better communicators. Communication is a skill that needs to be trained. Alas, with the increasing focus of universities on hard skills, soft skills like communication take a backseat.

And believe it or not, ineffective communication is the root of most problems — in both personal and professional lives.

You may think being a good writer is only important for kids who took Enligh literature and want to write novels. But you’ll be surprised to know that it’s a crucial part of every role.

The Rise of Writing

73.4% of employers want a candidate with strong written communication skills, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. It was also the third most desired quality behind leadership skills and teamwork.

While there’s been a strong focus on STEM education in the past decade, writing is making a comeback. A survey done by The Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 93% of employers said, “A demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is important.”

And naturally, 75% of employers wanted a stronger focus on written communication skills during college. This made kids with majors like English and Communications more favored.

It’s not that businesses are suddenly looking for creatives. Rather they realize a simple fact — good writers not only write effectively but also understand communication as a whole — which makes it easier to work with them.

In 2020, as the world moved into lockdown and virtual offices, writing became more important than ever. We found ourselves having to communicate through the written word, perhaps more than we were comfortable with.

We needed to write to convince prospects better, win the support of colleagues and ensure that emotions and sentiments are also being communicated succinctly. To avoid unnecessary calls, emails needed to be crisper, shorter, and to the point.

Since ad-hoc communication took a hit (you could no longer walk to the desk of your teammate to ask a question) one needs to anticipate doubts and answer them beforehand to avoid delays.

These are but a few examples of the skills you need in the new world. Indeed, the new remote work system will collapse if people don’t know how to write better.

Good Writing Goes Beyond The Written Word

You might think, being a writer, I’m exaggerating the importance of writing.

But think about the last time you received an email with typos, bad formatting, broken sentences, and disjoint ideas. What did it tell you about the person’s thought process? What did it tell you about their company and business? I’m sure it didn’t portray a good image after all.

Writing, here, is not about a big vocabulary or elaborate sentences. It’s about clarity of thought, attention to detail, setting clear expectations, and being committed to getting the work done.

Clear writing is clear thinking

YCombinator, one of the most successful accelerators in the world, judges startups on the basis of their application form. If the founders cannot articulate their ideas in a way that stands out, then their thinking is muddled. The way you write shows the way you think.

Succinct, concise, and clear writing is not as easy. Which is why it’s so valuable.

Writers know what to omit

We all like to speak and write more than necessary. Your job is to give away only the details needed and nothing more. It saves time for the reader and it saves your face lest you give away information to invite criticism or micromanagement.

Writers thrive in deep work

While most people are perpetually distracted and need to constantly interact with others, writers are more than happy to go in their zone and create something good. It’s not that they’re introverted, but they appreciate focused blocks of time.

To sum it up in the words of Jason Fried from his book Rework:

“If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. [His/her] writing skills will pay off. That’s because being a good writer is about more than writing clear writing.

Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit.

And those are qualities you want in any candidate. Writing is making a comeback all over our society…Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.”

How to Train Yourself

Like anything in life, when it comes to writing, people want tricks and gimmicks that will make them better writers. That doesn’t happen, however. Improving your writing skills is simple, perhaps not easy.

Even so, it definitely does not involve a herculean effort on your part. You only need to work on a few things to get started:

  1. Write more: When you start writing, quantity matters more than quality because it takes practice to get better. So write blog posts for your company, reports, drafts, or write something for yourself. Find a creative outlet to practice writing regularly (if not every day).
  2. Read more: Reading will help you expand vocabulary, draw inspiration from great writers, and over time, learn how the pros do it. It doesn’t have to be a lot as long as you continuously read long-form content instead of short news articles and tweets.
  3. Remove the clutter: Whether you’re writing a blog post or an email, no one wants to read a 500-word message which could’ve been 100 words. Simplify words and sentences — using jargon doesn’t make you sound smarter.
  4. Edit better: If possible, always get someone to edit what you write. Without feedback, you’re just writing in a vacuum without improving. It may be good depending on your goals, to seek a mentor or writing coach for the same.

Clear writing shows clear thinking. And everyone wants a clear-headed person around. When you can communicate your ideas, persuade and impress with your writing, you’ll stand a much better chance of being hired, especially in the virtual world we’re now living in.

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Written on August 30, 2021