This is a guest blog written by Jennifer Frost from Englishgrammar.com.
The truth is even if the job you’re trying to secure is not directly related to writing, your written text, whether it’s an email or a cover letter, sets your employer’s first encounter with you. Hence, making a first impression that will create an impact requires good business writing skills. In fact, in survey of employers released by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), 80 percent suggested that colleges should focus more on written and oral communication. Here are five tips you can excel at business writing:
1. Establish the purpose of your writing. Identifying your desired result will help you decide on the tone of your material, its content and structure. For example, does your email aim to inform the recipient that you are available for work, to make an inquiry about a job opening, or to propose a project? When you are asking about a job opening, then ask for details first and do not mention details about yourself, like credentials or education, to avoid confusing the recipient. Be clear about your purpose: Should the person answer your question about the job opening or consider you already as an applicant?
2. Research on the different types of business communication. To fulfil the requirements of each type of written business communication, understand the structure, objective, and specific methods of writing it. Here are some of the types of written business communication:
• Emails - to send documents, set up appointments, contact applicants
• Proposals – to provide background and details about a potential project
• Reports – to present current status of a company’s financial records, an on-going project, or any business activity
• Brochures – to promote features and benefits of the company’s products and services
• Memos – to announce basic information, such as deadlines, meetings, or any changes in current operations
3. Keep your sentences short and simple. According to Ronnie Bouing, author of the book “Effective Business Communication,” complex and general nouns and wordy lines should be shunned. Here are some of his examples:
• wealthy business person = tycoon
• business prosperity = boom
• consensus of opinion = consensus
• kind consideration = kindness or consideration
• as a result of = because
• at the present time = now
4. Use the active voice instead of the passive voice. To sound assertive and powerful, write sentences in the active voice. For example, instead of “The report was submitted by the secretary to the president,” use “The secretary submitted the report to the president.”
5. Always apply basic grammar rules. In his Harvard Business Review article I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens asserts that good grammar is credibility because “people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.” Here are a few ways on how to avoid grammatical errors:
• Learn one grammar rule a day. All learning opportunities are accessible today. Take advantage of it and see how far you can go.
• To edit your work, use grammar checkers online or ask a trusted friend to review your work.
• Read as much as you can. It doesn’t have to be novels or textbooks. Read magazines, brochures, or flyers. Reading can help you observe how people construct sentences and communicate with an audience.
A bonus tip: Be sincere when writing. People can detect pretentiousness and dishonesty. Trying to sound like someone else might make the whole writing process more challenging for you. Write as if you are talking to one of your friends but a bit more formal and polite. This way, what your potential employers read from your email is not too far from what they will get when they meet you in person.
Photo by Anna McNaught.