Why writing skills are important for every job and how to improve yours (2023)

Have you ever sent an email that nobody seemed to understand that ended up derailing an entire project's schedule? Or did you write a report that you then had to explain orally to everyone after reading it?

Even if you don't have a job where writing is a core part of your job responsibilities, you probably use your writing skills every day to communicate with others via text (either via email or Slack, in a monthly report or quarterly, in the form of a project update or otherwise). In fact, strong written communication skills are one of theTop attributes employers are looking forregardless of the position they are hiring for.

There are a few different types of writing skills, and with practice, you can strengthen them and show them off in your next job hunt.

Why is writing competency important?

If you're in a writing-oriented or writing-heavy role, say marketing, you may already know how your writing skills help you on a daily basis. But even if you're not in one of those jobs, "Writing is an essential skill in the workplace, especially today with more and more people working remotely," says Muse's career coach.jennifer schmied, founder ofthriving careers. In an increasingly online world, “there are fewer face-to-face interactions and more written interactions”.

Strong writing skills help you communicate with others without having to schedule a meeting or phone call. You make sure readers get the gist of what you're trying to convey, get the ideas and impressions you want them to get, and in many cases take action to do what you want them to do.

"Most professionals have to write business email," says Muse's careers advisorTara Goodfellow, Owner ofAthena Advisor. With email, you can keep your team up to date on a project, request information from a colleague, or follow up on a meeting with clear next steps. And in some cases, email is how you make your first impression on a new person. For example, if you're an account executive reaching out to a prospect via email or LinkedIn, "a well-written sales pitch with a critical customer builds your credibility and helps you win a new customer," says Smith.

(Video) 5 Ways to Improve Your Writing

You'll likely use your writing skills outside of email as well. Perhaps you are preparing presentations that contain text, or need to write a report on the results of something you have done or researched. Or maybe you're going on vacation and jotting down what your teammates or manager needs to know or get done while you're away.

Writing is something that others can refer to at any time, unlike oral communication, which may need to be repeated and requires the simultaneous availability of both parties. Written records can be especially helpful when trying to standardize the way your team or company handles repetitive tasks, or when training new employees to take on them. "Writing down and clearly documenting new procedures can allow for future consistency and better quality control," Smith says, although he's not available to meet with every new person who takes them on and explain the processes.

Examples of writing skills

There are several types of skills that make someone a strong writer, including:


Before you write a single word, you should do your research on the topic you are writing about. Gathering current and accurate information is an important part of writing, and the process can help you determine what content to include. Depending on what you're writing about, research may involve learning about your target customer, whether it's a general target market or an individual business, evaluating sources for strength and credibility, speaking to experts, reviewing and analyzing data, or using to speak to others. members of your team.

planning and/or schematization

An outline is a reduced outline of what points or topics the document you are working on will cover and how you plan to structure the information, which as you write can give you a roadmap to follow. Creating and following an outline will ensure that you include all the important information in the correct order and that it isn't repetitive or straying too far from your point of view. It's often easier to get external information about a schematic than to write a full report or similar only to find that important information is missing. Outlining skills can also be used to outline a non-written project in advance or plan a process, which can be especially helpful when delegating or collaborating with others.

grammar and clarity

Grammar is the set of rules that governs the use of language. It leads everyone to communicate in a similar way and consequently to understand each other better. There are many rules of English grammar and you should definitely know the basic ones. But unless you're a writer or editor, knowing the obscure little quirks of grammar isn't usually necessary. TheesIt is necessary to know how to form a clear sentence that is easy to read and understand in order to be able to communicate in writing.

Review and Editing

Editing is the process of correcting and altering your own or someone else's text to make it stronger. You can review or edit parts by making significant changes to a part's structure, organization, or content. Or you can review a text and check for spelling, grammar, or typos. In other cases, you might tweak sentences or paragraphs to flow better or reflect a specific tone. Strong editing skills can come in handy in a variety of professional situations, from reviewing a report or presentation for a teammate to catching an error in an email you want to send to the entire company.

communication skills

Even if writing isn't a core part of your job, you probably use it to communicate in the workplace. that could meancompose an email, message someone in Slack or Teams, give feedback, create oneAgenda, or give an update to a project. Being able to communicate clearly in writing will make your work smoother, increase your chances of getting what you want and need from others, avoid misunderstandings, and make your colleagues feel informed and included; Ultimately, it will strengthen your professional relationships.

(Video) 7 Ways to Improve English Writing Skills | IELTS | EXAM | ESSAY | ACADEMIC

9 tips to improve your writing skills

"Good writing can help you stand out and get ahead," says Smith. So how do you improve your writing skills? Here are some tips:

1. Review the basics of grammar

If you already feel like your eyes are fogging up, don't worry. Unless you're a writer, editor, or the like, you don't need to know thisOMSÖto theor when to use an em hyphen or a semicolon (and to be honest editors don't always know all those things). But you need to know the basics: how to write whole sentences instead of fragments or corrections; how to use quotes and commas in typical scenarios; and if one uses them there, they are or theirs, to name a few.

There are a number of free online resources that you can use to brush up on your grammar skills or answer individual questions such as: B. Grammar Girl and the content that many dictionaries post on their blogs. Or you can look for paid courses on platforms like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera. You can find many free quizzes (exThe) to determine your current skill level and discover opportunities for improvement. There are also a number of books you can check out:The Elements of Styleby Strunk and White is a classic, but still widely used and, above all, brief overview of the most important grammar rules andOh my!by Patricia T. O'Conner is a more modern guide written in a lighter tone.

2. Read (and study) the type of writing you want to improve

One of the best ways to improve your own writing is through readinga lot. Remember which scripture speaks to you, and watch that scripture closely to see how it fits together. Do you use a lot of jargon? Is the tone talkative or rather serious? Does the author use a lot of short sentences, mostly longer sentences or a combination of both?

Reading of any kind can help you get a feel for how all the elements of writing can be effectively combined in different ways. But it can be especially helpful to focus on the exact types of writing you want to improve. Reading Shakespeare is great if you enjoy it, but it's unlikely to improve your email. If you're looking to improve your marketing copy, white paper, or sales pitch writing, take a closer look at these types of writing.

3. Choose the right format for the situation

You need to quickly update your boss on what you've been up to for the past week. What's the best way to do it? Are you going to open a new Google Doc and write a five-page report that includes all the details? Probably not. You'll probably write an email with a few short paragraphs or bullet points that get the most important points out in a way that your boss can read quickly.

On the other hand, if you're detailing the results of weeks of research, this five-page report might be needed for your line manager or a teammate who needs to know something about your process. However, if you are sharing these findings with another department, it may make more sense to convey just the main points or action points in a PowerPoint presentation with a few bullet points or a short summary on each slide.

Knowing and choosing the right format for a given piece of text, based on your goals and audience, will give you the right amount and type of space to share what you need and will properly set your readers' expectations as well. Going back to the example above, when your manager sees a Slack message, you would expect it to take a few minutes to read, but if you send them a long document, you'll be prepared for a lot of information. (and they can delay reading until they have the time they need to digest it).

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4. Outline before writing

Especially if you are writing something longer or particularly important, outlining beforehand can lead to stronger closure of the project and make the process smoother. The best type of outline depends on your personal preferences and what you are writing about.

In most cases, you want to break your outline into sections (whether those sections are chapters, paragraphs, slides, or whatever) and note the purpose of each section. Why is it included and what question does this section answer for your reader? Once you know that, you can quickly jot down what information should be included in that section of your article. As you sketch, check that the order of your sections makes sense. Anyone need some information or context currently earmarked for a later section to understand what you're saying here? Move this information or sections up in your outline.

If you want to address a number of points but don't know in what order or how they relate, an outline can be even more helpful. Write each important point in a way that makes it easy to move around — for example, a bulleted list in a Word or Google doc, or even individual tabs — and start grouping similar and related points. Then arrange these groupings so that they flow logically. If you're still not sure what your key points are,You can do the same exercise with all the smaller pieces of information you want to include and form your key points once you see all of your information coming together.

5. Be mindful of your audience and the appropriate tone for your writing

In order to communicate well through writing, it is important to understand who will be reading and what type of language is appropriate.

Consider how formal your language is: when you let a teammate loose, you can be more relaxed in your tone and word choice than when you're emailing a client or preparing a presentation for stakeholders. In most professional situations, you should omit emojis and avoid using multiple punctuation marks unless the situation really calls for it. "You rarely need '!!!!!'" says Goodfellow. And don't type all capital letters unless you really want to shout.

Before you write, consider your audience's level of knowledge on the topic. "If they're aware of the situation, [they] might not need a lot of detail," says Goodfellow. For example, if you're updating other members of the development team about a feature you're coding, you can use technical jargon and skip the background, but if you're writing about the new feature in a customer blog post, you might need to explain things be a little more detailed, choosing more common words and explicitly explaining why you care.

Before you finish writing a text, take the time to read it again from the audience's point of view. "Keep in mind that the way you intend the email may not be perceived that way," says Goodfellow. Tone is difficult to convey through text, especially humor, and you don't want to imply an attitude you don't mean. When you're replying to a chain of email, commenting on an ongoing thread, or otherwise continuing a conversation, try to mirror the tone of the messages in front of you, says Goodfellow.

6. Pay attention to the mechanics of your writing.

Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind to make almost anything you write easier to read and understand:

  • Don't use complex words when simple words will do.If it seems like you've used the thesaurus function every few words, you're probably distracting your reader or losing focus. You will also end up with an incoherent tone and risk someone not getting the point you are trying to get across.
  • Vary your sentences.If all of your sentences are of similar length or follow the same structure, reading can become a chore. "A common problem I see is any sentence that starts with 'I,'" says Goodfellow. Think:"I want [x]. I need you]. I want [z].”It's repetitive and it's easier for the reader to lose their place when everything looks the same.
  • Use specific words and phrases.Whenever possible, be specific about what you mean rather than using vague words like "things" or phrases like "and so on." This exercise will make your writing stronger and easier to understand.
  • Don't repeat yourself.When writing and speaking, it is common to say the same thing several times in slightly different ways. Repetition can unnecessarily clutter your writing and distract people's attention.
  • Eliminate filler words and filtered language.Words like "just" and "it" are often unnecessary to get your point across and overload your writing. You should also look at the adverbs and adjectives you use to see if a stronger, more specific noun or verb works. Likewise, filtering out phrases like "I think" or "It seems so" can weaken your message and make you sound less confident. The use of filter language isparticularly common in womenwho have been socialized to soften their minds so as not to offend.
  • Walk your reader through each of your points.Switch seamlessly from one topic to the next. If you spent the last paragraph talking about a project you completed last week and then proceeded straight to describing an upcoming project with no transition, your reader is probably confused. And with each new point, make sure your reader is clear on why you're bringing it up and how it relates to the overall topic.

7. Get feedback on your writing

If you're looking to improve your writing skills, it can be extremely helpful to get feedback from others on your current performance. You may not realize that you tend to use the wrong form of "your" or that your sentences are too long. But someone else might. It's also common for people to use the same words and phrases over and over again without realizing it. Similarly, you might think your writing is clear and to the point, but a reader might feel that key context is missing. If you receive feedback from multiple people or on multiple items, be aware of any feedback or criticism that you have received more than once and focus on that area first.

Ask a teammate, supervisor, or someone whose opinion you trust to look at something you've written and ask what would strengthen your writing. (If you're collaborating with someone, it might be easier to ask them to comment on something they need to read anyway.)

(Video) LEADERSHIP LAB: The Craft of Writing Effectively

Depending on the type of writing you want to work on, you can also join a writing group or community, where people share their writing and critique each other, Smith says. You can find writing workshops (both online and in person) through colleges and other community programs (they often cost money but come with an experienced teacher or facilitator), or you can find writing groups (usually free) online. Meetup.com and professional organizations are great places to start looking.

8. Review

No matter what you write, one last look for typos or mistakes can save you a lot of heartache in the long run. Did you contradict yourself somewhere or left out the verb in a sentence? If possible, read everything you have written out loud. Sometimes things look good on a screen, but when you try to say them, you realize something is wrong. Similarly, you can print out your writing and proofread it on paper, Smith says. Often this is enough to see your writing in a different light and make mistakes easier to spot. If your writing has a lot at stake or the impression it makes on the reader is very important, try to get someone else to read it too, says Goodfellow.

9. Use technological aids as aids, not as substitutes

There are many programs and plugins that pretend to "correct" your writing, such as WritingProAid, Sapling, Grammarly, and even the spelling and grammar checkers built into word processors. These tools can make it easier to write well, Smith says. But they shouldn't be your only source of truth. Computer programs tend to miss key context that human readers would understand. "Spell checking can be helpful, but there are many words that are 'correct' that may not be what you intended," says Goodfellow.

None of these tools should replace a thorough review. As a professional editor, I use tools like this to draw attention to possible mistakes, but I always look at your suggestions before accepting them and consider whether they are really correct or clear. I also look closely for bugs that the tools didn't catch at all. Computer programs can easily miss homophone confusion, time differences between sentences, wrong choice of words, and other problems. And sometimes you may need to write in a style that these tools aren't programmed for. For example, if you're writing about investing, stock prices and common financial abbreviations might be flagged as errors.

Show off your writing skills in a job hunt

If you are applying for a writing-intensive job, you may be asked to submit awriting sampletogether with your application or fill out aability testSometime during the interview. But you can also put your writing skills to the test in other phases, no matter what type of job you are applying for.

in your resume

If a certain type of writing skills, such as B. experience with social media copywriting or familiarity with a particular style guide, isn't listed in a job description or clearly represents great added value for a particular role, your writing skills typically don't belong. beSkills section— or at least that's not where recruiters and hiring managers look for them. Instead, they look at how your resume is written to see those skills in action. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Use correct and consistent grammar, without random changesTenses.
  • Write clearly, concisely.vignettes, be careful to choose specific and strong words,active verbs.
  • Avoid vague or overused words. That means avoiding contextless buzzwords like “passionate” and “synerged,” which may sound flashy but don't mean anything on their own. And instead of words like "managed" and "directed," says Smith, look for interesting and creative, yet clear and specific words that the recruiter didn't see a thousand times that day.
  • Correct!

If you work in a field where writing is a core component of your job, you can also link writing samples directly from your resume, although you won't be asked to further showcase your qualifications.

In your cover letter

When writing aletter of introduction(yyou should write a cover letter), you should follow the same tips as when writing a resume. But cover letters give you more room to really show off your writing skills. Instead of reciting lists of your qualifications, use your cover letter to write short but compelling anecdotes that come together to tell a coherent story about why you're the right person for the job. Select past experiences relevant to the job you want and support your overall narrative. And make sure your sentences and paragraphs flow logically and that it's always clear why the information is being included. You can also give a cover letter more voice and personality than a resume to give the reader an idea of ​​who you are as a person.

(Video) Write an Incredible Resume: 5 Golden Rules!

Throughout the interview process

Of course, job interviews are usually not conducted in writing. Indeed, unless there is a valid reason for it (such asdisabled accommodationfor you or the interviewer), a full-text interview process can ared flag for a job scam.

However, you will continue to communicate with your prospective employer via email throughout the process. "Taking the time to compose well-written email replies is a great way to make a good first impression," says Smith. "Recruiters and hiring managers will notice a difference between thoughtful answers and hasty comments."

Remember that you will not only be judged on your ability to accomplish a specific task, but also on your potential as a teammate. A colleague or line manager who communicates clearly and professionally via email makes everyone's job easier in the long run, while someone who is difficult to understand in writing may seem like a future issue that you need to deal with, especially when They communicate with people outside the company via email.


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