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Why You Need to Improve Your Writing

During your four (or more) years in college, you will be bombarded with more writing assignments than you have ever had in your life — and what’s worse is that no major offers a safe haven. Even hard sciences like chemistry or physics require reams and reams worth of writing, namely in the form of lab reports.

A friend of mine, a chemistry major, who was particularly irate with the staggering amount of writing he had to do that weekend, once said, “If I wanted to write novels, I would have been an English major. I mean, it’s not like I’m ever going to have to write in the real world!”

We all shared an indignant laugh, but after he said that, I began to ruminate on it. Why did professors assign so many papers? Why does every major have a required writing-intensive course? There had definitely been times when, in the middle of a 15-page research paper, I had raised my fists to the heavens in a fit of bewildered rage and wondered what the point of it all was, but after some introspection, it started to make sense.

The simple truth is that there is not a single occupation in the world that never requires communication. In fact, just to get a job, you’ve got to be something of a crackerjack writer; resumes, cover letters, CVs, or any other job-search document has to be compelling and reflect both your work history and your writing abilities. So, without further ado, here are my top reasons why you should be happy about improving your writing:

Better Writing Makes for Better Resumes

As already mentioned, you have to know how to write well to put together a resume, cover letter, or CV. Your resume is often your first introduction to an employer, and if it is bad, you probably won’t be getting a call. Honing your writing skills will enable you to craft winning resumes, and will also help you spot errors and inconsistencies, which together are probably the No. 1 job opportunity killers. Furthermore, a cover letter can be the sole difference between an interview or a rejection right off the bat. If your spelling, diction, or syntax is poor, it reflects unfavorably on you, and decreases your chances of getting an offer.

The Better You Write, the Better You Speak

It’s often said that writing should reflect speech, but it goes both ways. If you are able to construct complex sentences and express complex ideas on paper, you will know how to do it while speaking as well. And being well-spoken will open more doors than you can possibly imagine.

To illustrate how important communication is, consider the fact that when employers are deciding between candidates, the factor that weighs most heavily in their decision is how the applicants spoke. Resumes are important, but they don’t have a voice. The reason employers conduct interviews is to get a sense for how you communicate and hold yourself. Between a candidate who is very impressive on paper but is socially awkward, and a candidate who might be slightly less impressive on paper but speaks confidently and powerfully, you can probably guess which will be hired.

Better Writing Leads to Better Positions

Technical skills will take you pretty far in life, but the highest paying and most respected jobs in the world all rely very heavily on communication, written and otherwise. As you ascend the corporate ladder, more and more of your work is communicating with people, whether it be employees that you supervise, external vendors, other managers, other companies, lawyers — whoever. A person who knows circuitry better than anyone on the planet will climb to the highest position in the technical field, but he or she will reach a ceiling if his or her communication skills are anything but impeccable.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see while you’re in school, but improving your writing skills actually has important real-world applications, and there’s no better time to get better than when you’re still in school, surrounded by people who can help you be the best writer possible.

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