Sure, most employers find value in the performance of employees, such as showing responsibility, skill and loyalty to the company. But there are many instances in which employees—or candidates hoping to become employees at a company—must use their writing skills to impress employers. In fact, a 2010 MetLife Survey revealed that 97% of executives rated strong writing skills as essential or very important.
In a time in which we fire off emails and tweets with few words, and often with too little thought or preparation, it takes self-discipline to put time and effort into business writing. Whether you are seeking job opportunities or writing to customers and potential investors on behalf of your employer, Business English Essentials are as important today as they were when those resumes and memos were created on typewriters!
First, start with a plan and at least a mental outline. Your writing should have a purpose or theme, and the ideas should flow logically. Don’t get caught up in trying to do too much with one piece of writing. Stick to the goal: If it’s a resume, try to land the job. If it’s a memo to ask for a new internal manufacturing policy, outline the reasons and statistics to back it up. Follow a logical order.
In business writing, people tend to use too many words, whether to impress or to avoid taking a stand. It’s always better to be concise and to avoid academic, passive writing. Keep sentences brief.
If you are a nonnative English speaker, be particularly mindful of English article and idiom use. Prepositions also can trip up nonnative English business writers. You can avoid confusion of “in” and “on” by replacing the word with “within.” If within works, chances are that “in” works in your sentence instead of “on.”
Finally, no matter your native tongue, always use good English grammar. If you have trouble with grammar, brush up or look up rules that you know cause you the most trouble. And always review and edit your writing before sending it on to your employer.