By Dr. Stephanie Heald-Fisher, Graduate Program Chair
As a business instructor, I am often asked by students why I assess their writing skills in their work when they are taking a business class. After all, the course topics are business-related, not writing related.
Students also see no need to follow the APA formatting in the academic setting since they won’t use this formatting out in the “real” world.
Recent studies on the need for good writing skills in the business environment explain why these skills are important. Whether it’s for a job or for a promotion, the need for good writing in business starts with your application. The inability to write clearly and effectively communicate through the written word significantly impacts your ability to land a new job or promotion. A poorly written job application creates a negative prejudice against the applicant (Hansen, n.d.). The person is never considered seriously.
If you are struggling to even get a phone interview, review your resume and cover letter for typing errors. Have someone else proofread it for clarity and grammar. Another set of eyes on your work can catch errors that you might not be seeing.
Once you land a job, you need to be able to communicate with others. In today’s business environment, regardless of the industry, communicating effectively typically means a heavy use of email and using email means being able to write. “Unclear, garbled, poorly written emails waste time, money, and productivity” (Hansen, n.d., para. 2). Poorly written emails create misunderstandings and cause errors. Always proofread your email before hitting “send.”
Many times spellcheck will not catch errors like “form” when you mean “from” or “you” when you mean “your.” The email is often the first impression the receiver gains of the sender. A poorly written email results in a poor first impression. This goes back to your job application. A poor first impression usually means that you do not make the initial “cut” when looking at applicants to interview.
Getting promoted is also impacted by writing skills. Good writing skills communicate intelligence, professionalism, and competency (Worth, n.d.). Poor writing skills communicate a lack of intelligence, professionalism, and competency. Once again, your professional image is impacted by your writing skills. The better your skills are, the better your image is and the better your chances for promotion.
Most companies also have forms and templates that they use in everyday business. APA is the template that is often used in academia. It provides uniformity to students’ and researchers’ work for clarity of understanding.
It also provides a template for publication. Learning how to adapt to a new template is a skill that can be transferred into the workplace. Getting an education is not just about learning the concepts in the courses, although that is certainly an important part of it. Higher education also means learning transferrable skills. Assessing writing in non-writing courses and using APA are ways instructors can help you to learn valuable transferrable skills.
So the next time your accounting instructor makes suggestions to improve your writing or your health care instructor makes suggestions to change your APA, remember that employers are looking for skilled employees, and that includes employees skilled in writing, communicating effectively, and using templates.
Learn more about improving your writing skills with a degree at Globe University.Hansen, K. (n.d.) Writing skills: More important than ever on the job. Retrieved from http://www.quintcareers.com/writing_skills_on_job.html Worth, M. (n.d.) Why are business writing skills important? Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/about_6375610_writing-skills-important-business_.html