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Why on-the-job writing skills are more important than ever

by | Jan 2, 2017 | College Prep, High school

Will your teens have strong on-the-job writing skills? Studies show it's more important than ever if they hope to get---and keep---a job.
We parents give an awful lot of thought to what our children will do once we’re done homeschooling. Will they go to college or university? Take a vocational track? Enter the ministry? Will they become scientists or mortgage lenders? Clerical workers or nurses? Entrepreneurs or educators?

One thing seems clear: No matter the profession, studies show it’s more important than ever that your teen develop good writing skills if he or she hopes to get—and keep—a job.

Writing: A Ticket to Work . . . or a Ticket Out

According to a survey polling 120 American corporations (whose payrolls include nearly 8 million people), an employee’s on-the-job writing skills can either hinder or advance him in the company.

The survey may be a few years old, but its ramifications remain relevant today. Here are some of the survey’s findings:

  • People who cannot write and communicate clearly will not be hired and are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion.
  • Two-thirds of salaried employees in large American companies have some writing responsibility. “All employees must have writing ability,” said one human resource director.
  • Eighty percent or more of the companies in the service and finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sectors, the corporations with the greatest employment growth potential, assess writing during hiring. “Applicants who provide poorly written letters wouldn’t likely get an interview,” commented one insurance executive.
  • Half of all companies take writing into account when making promotion decisions.
  • More than 40 percent of responding firms offer or require training for salaried employees with writing deficiencies. Based on the survey responses, it appears that it may cost American firms as much as $3.1 billion per year to remedy poor writing skills. “We’re likely to send out 200–300 people annually for skills-upgrade courses like ‘business writing’ or ‘technical writing,’” said one respondent.

You can read the entire report here.

Focus on Key Writing Skills

What does this mean for your child? Simply, it doesn’t matter whether or not she’s college-bound. If she expects to succeed in the workplace, she’ll need to demonstrate better-than-average writing skills.

So make sure to focus on basic but key writing skills throughout junior high and high school to adequately prepare her. Minimally, by the time your teens graduate from high school, they should know how to:

  • Write a clear, well-organized essay.
  • Write a business letter.
  • Use correct grammar.
  • Use proper punctuation, including correct use of quotation marks and apostrophes.
  • Use good sentence structure, including avoiding comma splices, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments.
  • Avoid using slang and shortcuts common to texting and instant messaging.
  • Properly cite sources (avoiding plagiarism).
  • Self-edit and proofread their own writing.

Helpful Resources for On-the-Job Writing

If you’re looking for a place to start or need a few supplemental resources, check out some of these links and products:

Photo: Isabelle, courtesy of Creative Commons