Depending on the job role your writing skills might be more or less important, but chances are you will need to use writing to some degree. Even if you only write e-mails with other colleagues, employers will want to see that you can use the appropriate language, tone and format to convey information concisely and clearly.
Employers will definitely want to know that you can correct your own writing because making sure that your writing is typo-free shows that you are conscientious and can pay attention to small details. Proofreading your own writing demonstrates that you take care in what you do and understand the importance of checking the information you send to others.
Although our written communication across many areas is becoming more informal, mistakes not only look unprofessional but can cause people to be confused about the information you are trying to communicate. Writing which is grammatically correct demonstrates to an employer that you are familiar with how language is used by others and that you can write and think logically.
If writing is a main part of your job employers will want to see that you can communicate ideas, strategies and plans clearly and concisely, and that you understand what to include in written documents. They might even want to see that you can write some enticing copy or marketing material and communicate their brand image in a creative and exciting way.
Any written documents you have produced in the past will be useful for demonstrating these skills. If you are successful at online networking you’ll probably be effective at using language and might have a personal blog or website you can use to show off your writing skills. If you have any experience with writing reports, press releases, copy, e-mails, leaflets, or minutes you can use these to demonstrate your written communication skills.
If you don't feel so confident about your written communication skills, the first step to improving is brushing up on your grammar. Although this might seem like a very dry suggestion having good grammar is an important part of how you communicate. Grammar is the shared system that allows us to transform our muddled and complex ideas into sequences of words which, if used correctly cause other people to think the same thing as you. Cool, huh?
Improving your grammar doesn’t have to be hard work. There are a number of interesting bloggers who write about grammar and just keeping up to date with them should give you some insights into where you are going wrong. Why not try having a look at Grammar Girl for some quick tips, or use an online grammar checker if you have an important text to write.
Some general tips for improving your writing:
- Only use words that you understand. Don’t be tempted to use long or complicated words because they sound more intellectual or impressive. If you aren’t 100% sure of the meaning use a simpler word that you feel familiar with.
- Write short sentences and short paragraphs. It’s easy for a reader to lose their train of thought when they are faced with dense text.
- Read your writing out loud to yourself. This will help you locate any mistakes or anything which sounds complicated or unclear.
- Take the time to read through your writing. This is best done a few days after you have finished writing, or if you need to send something as soon as possible wait five minutes and come back to it. When proofreading try focusing on individual words rather than sentences to spot errors.
- It can be helpful to look at your writing on another medium, for example if it is written on the computer try printing it out to look for errors on paper. Or, try reading from the last paragraph up to the top. This is will disrupt your expectations of seeing what you have already written and make you more likely to notice errors.
- Don’t be afraid of writing clearly and plainly. Try to phrase things as directly as possible and focus on exactly what you are trying to communicate rather than on trying to make it sound wordy. Try and imagine what you would like to read.
- Don’t include jargon or very technical terms unless you are completely sure that everyone who will read them will understand them.
- Ask for help. Even experienced writers need editors to get the best out of their writing. If you have something really important to write, get a friend or helpful colleague to check through it.