Employers are expecting you to be able to write and speak effectively. This is nothing new. Communication skills have always been critical. Being able to write and speak well sets you apart from other candidates. When your boss delegates a writing assignment to you, even as simple as a letter to a client, your boss trusts that you can effectively convey information in that letter. If someone has to rewrite your work to fix your grammar and spelling errors, it wastes time.
Sue Shellenbarger wrote in her Wall Street Journal article This Embarrasses You and I*, Grammar Gaffes Invade the Office in an Age of Informal Email, Texting and Twitter, “Managers are fighting an epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace. Many of them attribute slipping skills to the informality of email, texting and Twitter where slang and shortcuts are common. Such looseness with language can create bad impressions with clients, ruin marketing materials and cause communications errors, many managers say.
Bryan A. Garner, one of the leading legal writing experts, is mentioned in the article for his own hiring practices. Garner requires his employees to pass a spelling and grammar test before being hired. Paralegal students will recognize Bryan A. Garner as the author of the textbook Legal Writing in Plain English (Chicago University Press, 2001) that is used LA425 Legal Writing II. His books are great resources for any professional to keep handy.
The good news is that you can learn writing and speaking skills. Even good writers and speakers can enhance their skills to be an asset in the workplace. Resources are available to help when you have questions about grammar or spelling.
If you want to improve your writing, follow these guidelines.
1. Always spellcheck. This is least that you can do. It is obvious when you do not use it.
2. Go beyond spellcheck. Garner’s employees have two other employees read and edit emails and letters before they go out.
3. Make use of the resources all around you. There are citation guides in your library or available online. A simple Google search will bring up many grammar guides. Even dictionaries are available online. Do not sell your writing textbooks. They are excellent resources to keep.
4. Have someone else proof read your writing for tone and grammar/spelling errors.
If you take the feedback you receive on your writing and fix your errors the next time you write, you can make your writing stronger. If you listen to how others speak in a professional setting, you can learn the proper way to convey your message to a client or a boss. As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Practice every day to make your communication skills stronger.