If you’re wondering how important writing is in today’s workplace, there’s an incredible study out there from the National Association of Colleges and Employers that reveals 73.4% of employers are looking for candidates who have strong writing skills.
Right next to leadership and teamwork, written communication ranked #3 in most-desired qualities.
No matter what college major or long-term career path you’re seeking, you must have proficient writing skills on your résumé to make it in the 2020s.
Even more importantly, you need to be able to put your money where your mouth is and prove that you’re a competent writer with real skills beyond the résumé.
In today’s article, I’ll break down:
- Why written communication is so important in the workplace
- What types of writing skills employers are looking for
- How you can improve your writing and become a more valuable candidate, employee, or freelancer
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The Undeniable Necessity: Just How Important IS Writing in the Workplace?
Short answer: very.
Whether you’re focusing on getting hired as a writer or looking at a different career that isn’t centered around writing, your written communication skills need to be up to par.
1. Writing Skills Give Your Employer or Boss Credibility
Nothing loses a client’s trust in your credibility (and the company’s) faster than an email riddled with typos and grammar mistakes. If you can’t properly write a few paragraphs, why should the client put their trust in the company’s products and services?
First impressions are everything. Your first message to a potential new lead shouldn’t make them question whether you’re a foreign scammer who doesn’t quite have a grasp on the English language.
And if you’re hoping to move up the corporate ladder, will your subordinates trust you to lead them if you’re writing at a middle-school level?
The truth is, your writing skill directly impacts your credibility, especially when it comes to first impressions.
2. Writing Skills Enable Great Communication
Having strong verbal communication skills won’t get you very far if those skills don’t translate to writing.
You need to be able to clearly communicate information to your colleagues, managers, business partners, internal department heads, subordinates, third-party vendors, clients, and prospects. Poorly worded messages that cause confusion can be detrimental.
Consider this – even if you’re working in IT and focusing primarily on computers, you still need to have writing skills so you can communicate your analysis and resolution steps with the sales rep who emailed you because she can’t log in to her CRM dashboard.
If you’re a landscape architect designing a playground in AutoCAD, you still need to be a strong writer capable of submitting the grant application for the project and clearly communicating your proposed budget solution to the client via email.
If you’re a customer service agent, chances are your responsibilities go beyond answering the phone. You may be expected to respond to customer emails, social media comments, and live chats, in addition to writing escalation tickets and maintaining logs.
I could go on and on with a list of examples that demonstrate why written communication is so critical even with jobs that seem to have nothing to do with writing.
3. Writing Skills Can Directly Result in Sales for Your Boss or Employer
Because writing skills can be tied directly to credibility and success (or failure) at clear communication between internal and external contacts, you become a more valuable, well-rounded employee if you’re able to deliver writing skills on top of other specialized skills.
It can even bring tangible sales to your boss or employer—yes, money made directly from your ability to write!
Think about it – if you’re an amazing salesperson, but your writing skills are lacking and you send an email to a prospect riddled with typos, will that prospect buy?
Most likely, no. As a CEO, I’ve heard from prospects who personally reached out to tell me why they didn’t buy. The reason? They received a poorly-written response to their first question. That didn’t make my company look good, they said.
In fact, the salesperson I hired for Express Writers, Nicole, is not a salesperson by trade—she’s actually an editor and writer by trade.
Even in our sales roles, we now look for written communication as one of the most important aspects. Our interview process for an open sales role is to have the candidate write an email. How well they wrote it can determine if they get the job. This is true now for many sales roles.
Should an employer hire you and assign someone else to write or proofread your content?
Why should they pay two employees to do the job that one should be able to do proficiently?
You don’t want that to even be a problem. Instead, improve your writing skills, which will increase your value to your employer.
Psst… interested in improving your writing skillset for FREE? Learn the skills, techniques, and strategies behind growing a profitable content business with my free masterclass.
The Top Writing Skills Employers are Looking for
The job market is tough. Whether you’re unemployed and hunting for a new job, or you’re ready for a career change from your current position, it’s important to understand your self-worth and what skills you have to offer.
But in addition to knowing the skills you’re bringing to the table, it’s equally important to know what kind of skillset an employer is specifically looking for.
For example, you might be a phenomenal public speaker, but if you’re applying for a job managing the company’s ecommerce website, is that really a skill you want to be highlighting?
(No, it’s not.)
Focus on the skills that are most relevant for the position. Identifying the desirable skills for a specific job title has two main benefits:
One, you can tailor your cover letter, resume, or pitch to increase your chance of impressing a hiring manager as the most qualified candidate.
And two, if you’ve identified the skills and traits you need to get the job, you can take stock of your current skill level and do a self-evaluation. Are you comfortable promoting those particular skills? Or should you invest in self-improvement so you can highlight them in confidence?
Here are some of the basic writing skills that are valuable to employers:
- Sentence Structure
- Word Choice
- Tone / Professionalism
- Online Research
- Note Taking
Specialized writing skills that employers may also be interested in, depending on the industry and job position:
- Keyword Research
- Data Analysis
- Content Marketing
- SEO Writing
- Grant Writing
- Social Media
The Importance of Writing in the Workplace: How to Become a Better Writer and Increase Your Value
If you read that list of necessary writing skills and flagged a few areas where you struggle, don’t despair! It’s never too late to focus on improving your skills.
Here are four tips to improve your writing skills:
1. Read More
“Read like a writer, write like a reader.”
This is a mantra that English teachers often drill into their students. Reading others’ work can help you to gain a natural feel for flow, sentence structure, word choice, and more.
Simply consuming more written content, whether you’re reading fiction, nonfiction, print books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, online articles, blog posts, et cetera, can have an incredible subconscious effect on your writing skills.
If you’re already an avid book reader, you’re ahead of the 27% of Americans who haven’t read a book in at least a year.
2. Sign Up for Classes and Workshops
Connecting with a mentor via an online or in-person workshop is one of the most proactive ways to become a better writer, especially when you have the opportunity to join a network of other people who are also working on improving their skills.
Here at my own brand, Content Hacker, you can find a variety of courses and workshops to help you build the specific writing skill set you’re looking for. I've been teaching, writing books, and have been paid to lead classes for more than seven years. Not only is my training custom-created by me (never outsourced), but I've also invited more than twelve industry experts to come teach in the Academy, too.
Our hand-curated programs include these:
- The Content Strategy & Marketing Course: Learn everything you need to know about content marketing and how to build a profitable content strategy
- The Expert SEO Content Writer Course: Learn how to write content optimized for search engines to bring in organic traffic for websites and blogs
- Unlearn Essay Writing: Professional Writing Course: Learn how to break habits you learned writing college essays and research papers and instead master the right skills for online writing success
- One-Hour Workshop: Learn to Write Online Content: Learn the secrets of writing click-worthy content that generates leads, shares, and comments
- One-Hour Workshop: Social Media Training: Learn proven social media formulas and steps to build followers and find clients
- One-Hour Workshop: Press Release Writing: Learn how to write successful press releases that will get your brand in front of influencers, news sites, and journalists
- One-Hour Workshop: How to Build & Launch a Website: Learn the techniques and secrets to set up a 7-figure website.
- And more! See all workshops here and all courses here.
3. Practice Your Skills
One of the best ways to hone your writing skills is simply to write more.
That shouldn’t come as a big surprise – consistent practice is key to any skill you’re trying to improve. You might benefit from following a book of writing prompts, writing short posts, drafting short stories, starting a blog, or making time to write in a journal on a daily basis.
Sometimes, poor writing is simply a reflection of laziness or ignorance. Not sure if the proper phrase is “nip it in the butt” or “nip it in the bud”? Look it up. Don’t just guess and hit send!
(It’s bud, but the way… not butt!)
If you have any uncertainty, it’s worth spending the extra 30 seconds to confirm with Google before you make a fool of yourself to a boss, client, or colleague.
Writing is Important in the Workplace – How Are You Going to Level Up Your Skill Set?
You don’t have to “be a writer” in order to be a good writer.
Meaning, your career doesn’t have to be based around writing. But having exceptional written communication skills can work to your advantage and help to elevate your career in ways you didn’t realize.
English class may not have been your favorite subject in school, and that’s okay. Start small. Baby steps toward building a skill are better than no steps at all.