Now that the economic recession has been tempered, the job market for recent graduates is increasingly improving. But even if working opportunities have broadened, new graduates should be aware that employers expect them to improve in one specific area: writing.
In an interview conducted by Joyce Russell, business leaders concluded that writing is much more important now than in the past. Nowadays in fact, professionals spend most of their time at work engaged in written communication through e-mails, reports or presentations to clients. It is therefore imperative that employees enhance their abilities to write both succinctly and concisely. Most leaders also agreed that people who expose virtuous writing skills are often sought to work in more compelling projects.
But while 65 percent of recent graduates are confident concerning their writing skills, according to the American Association of Colleges and Universities survey, employers seem to be less optimistic, with just 27 percent of them asserting that fresh graduates have the written communication skills necessary to succeed in a working environment. An additional source underpinning this thesis is the CareerBuilder survey, which states that up to 38 percent of employers think that their working graduates need to improve on their written communication abilities.
So what are today's entry level workers getting wrong?
"Incorrect grammar, spelling and language usage can make a very bad impression. Using an informal style — relying on abbreviations, not using punctuation and failing to capitalize — does not come across as professional," Joyce Russell, the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland, told The Washington Post.
"Many hiring managers figure that if a person demonstrates poor writing skills when highly motivated to apply for a job, those skills probably won’t be any better once on the job," she continued.
How to improve? Practice, practice practice. And follow some tips:
1. Keep all of your writing in one place so that you can compare your pieces and understand if and how much you are improving.
2. If your first language isn't English, practice writing in English every day. This will allow you to gain familiarity with its linguistic constructs and expand your vocabulary.
3. Work on your drafts. Once you have finished writing go over your piece again trying to render it more clear and effective.
4. Think outside the box. Go beyond the topic and look at it from different perspectives. In a work environment this will help you go beyond the simple task you have in front of you to explore new possibilities and ways of approaching your work.
5. Get someone you trust to edit your drafts. Asking for someone else's point of view, especially if a good writer, will allow you to gain insights to improve and tips to be more effective.