The greatest contributor to your success in every aspect of business, social and family life boils down to one thing—how well you communicate. Poor communicators often have low self-esteem and suffer from frustration and confusion. Strong communicators, on the other hand, act confidently and are able to engage, educate, inspire, and lead people. Their oral and written communication is succinct, logical and compelling.
The Career Advisory Board’s 2014 Job Preparedness Indicator survey exposed gaps between the skills that employers require for available roles and the actual skills demonstrated by most candidates. A major finding from the study reveals that there are gaps within one major area for both entry- and mid-level candidates—written communication skills. The report stated, “At the mid-level, the most significant gap between what hiring managers need and what candidates are delivering is again seen in the area of written communication.”
Here are three ways to conquer common written communication challenges.
- Keep your audience in mind. Let’s use the example of a job candidate. He or she knows to write a cover letter intended for the hiring or Human Resources manager. By thoroughly reviewing the job posting, the candidate can easily ascertain which strengths, skills and certifications to include in the cover letter. Delineating important information makes it easier for the reader to determine whether or not the candidate may be an ideal fit for the role. All written communication should be crafted the same way—with the reader in mind. So, if you are presenting findings from research you performed, only report information that is relevant to that particular recipient of information. Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations principle #8 is, ‘Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.’ Whether creating a sales pitch or an annual report, only include facts and opinions that are relevant to the reader.
- Communicate clearly and concisely. It’s easy to be verbose, especially when passionate about a certain topic. Instead, write succinctly so that it takes the reader less time to digest the information. Using bullets or an outline also enhances written communication. Eliminate any unnecessary details and focus on the specific information that is most important to the reader. Lastly, Dale Carnegie’s 9th Human Relations principle is, ‘Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.’ As such, avoid being vague and using terminology that may be foreign to the reader.
- Tackle and tweak typos. Most job candidates optimize their resumes so that they are error free, however after they’ve landed the job, many become lazy. It’s easy to overlook typos so always re-read an email before you press ‘send,’ and if the document or message is very important, ask someone else to review it before formally sharing it. Spell-checkers beware: Microsoft Word is not perfect where spelling and grammar are concerned, so take the time to double-check and correct typos.
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