Make a Match: Do You Have These 5 Writing Skills Hiring Managers Struggle to Find?
The art of communication—and, more specifically, writing—is one of the most transferable work skills out there. So why do so many hiring managers struggle to find job candidates that excel at it? The good news is you can position yourself at the top of the candidate pool if you possess (or make the effort to obtain) some straightforward skills. Read on for the writing abilities that hiring managers really want.
1. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Let’s start with the basics. These skills seem like they should be a no-brainer, but you would be shocked at how many resumes and cover letters contain basic spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. While these elements may not seem very important—especially if you still manage to get your point across—they reveal a lot more about you as a job seeker than you might think.
While a misspelling is sometimes just a misspelling, having one on a resume or cover letter also tells the hiring manager you don’t pay attention to detail, don’t proofread your own work, and indicates mistakes would easily get by you without you noticing. Fair or not, that’s what inattention to these three basic elements broadcasts to those in charge. So, make use of those spell checkers, free online grammar services, and friends who are willing to review your documents before you send them in!
Once you’ve mastered error-free sentences, make sure they are put together in a way that is easy to read and allows your reader to follow along with your thoughts. This means including the main message in one paragraph, with subsequent facts following in the paragraphs that come afterward. A convenient way to do this is by writing up a brief outline of everything you want to say, then inserting bullet points with the information you want each paragraph to contain. It will help you visualize your message while letting you rearrange the information as needed before creating the actual letter, email, proposal, etc.
No one likes to read a rambling document. Whatever you want to say, the chances are high you can find a way to say it quicker and more concisely. Monster recommends “synthesizing data and situations and then translating them in a way that helps other people understand and act.” This means considering your audience, then tailoring the document to that audience. Whether your boss loves bullet points or your supervisor adores short and sweet paragraphs, figure out the information you need to convey and do it—without all the fluff.
Just as audience matters when considering how concise to make your document, so it matters when considering the tone, you want your writing to take. Obviously, professionalism should be at the top of your priority list when writing to anyone while seeking a job. But once in an office, it can be trickier to strike a delicate tonal balance between coworkers, bosses, and clients. While more casual language can usually be used among coworkers, keep in mind sarcasm and jokes can fall flat (or sometimes offend) over written communication.
When something is in writing, it automatically opens itself up to scrutiny. It leaves behind lasting evidence of what you said—so make sure what you say is true. According to Open Sourced Workplace, this means fact-checking every claim you make, since any factual mistake you make “decreases the validity of the whole message.” Emotions have very little place in business communication, while opinions are needed in very specific scenarios. For the vast majority of times, using facts, numbers, and/or statistics to prove your point will come across as much more professional to those around you.
Whether you have to submit a writing sample or you just want to make sure your resume is seen by those in charge, taking the time to hone your writing skills is a worthwhile endeavor that will go a long way in helping you stand out in a crowd.