A Guide To Help You Build Your Writing Skills
September 09, 2021
In such a competitive job market, the competition for graduate jobs or places on popular grad schemes sometimes means you’re going up against hundreds, or even thousands, of people just like you. So as an international student how can you make yourself stand out?
There’s an easy answer: show off your hard and soft skills, demonstrating you have both the knowledge and experience and the right attitude and personality to be a good fit for the company.
When it comes to which skills are most in-demand right now, good writing skills are one of the most valuable things you can have on your CV - but why are they so important and how can you go about improving yours?
Why are writing skills so important?
If you’re applying for a job as a journalist, copywriter or marketer, it’s obvious why writing skills are so important. But what you might not realise is that whatever your job role, the ability to clearly communicate — both verbally and in written form – is absolutely key to your success.
Need to send a clear email out to your colleagues? Writing instructions for someone? Drafting social media posts for your company?
Writing clearly and accurately is increasingly becoming an essential skill for all workers, especially as more and more businesses adopt a remote or blended approach to working. After all, it isn’t always practical to schedule a meeting or phone call whenever you need to speak to someone, so having good writing skills is basic for everyday communication.
What are the most in-demand writing skills?
There’s more to writing than meets the eye, and lots of different interconnected skills involve written communication.
Job-specific, traditional writing skills include the ability to write for specific purposes, like press releases, blog posts and articles, but more general writing-adjacent skills include everything from researching and planning to editing, proofreading and day-to-day communicating. Whether a graduate job is writing-centric or not, these are all core skills you’ll need in any job.
5 tips for improving your writing skills
Don’t worry if writing isn’t really your thing, because there are some easy steps to improving your writing skills.
1. Read more
One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read other people’s work. Try and choose texts that reflect what you’ll be writing, so if you just need to improve your basic day-to-day written communication skills, then read magazines or online articles with a light, conversational tone.
Analyse how the writer puts sentences together. Do they use short or long sentences or a mixture of both? What kind of vocabulary do they use? The more you read, the more you’ll start to naturally develop your own style and tone of voice.
2. Go back to basics with grammar
When it comes to developing your writing skills, you’ll need to start by going right back to the basics. Accurate grammar and spelling are absolutely fundamental to clear communication, so be sure to spend some time building your knowledge of basic grammatical structures.
3. ‘Read the room’
What we mean by reading the room is learning to switch up and adapt your tone of voice and writing style to suit different audiences and purposes.
For example, if you need to give your boss a quick email update on what you did yesterday, they’re going to want to see something that’s short and straight to the point. On the other hand, if they want you to produce a report based on a month’s worth of research, you’ll need to adapt your style to create a longer, more formal body of text.
4. Plan ahead
Creating an outline before you write will help you stay on topic while writing something a bit longer or a bit more important than your average email. Divide the outline into sections, bullet point your key ideas or points and then once you’re happy, use it to write your draft.
We recommend using Google Docs or a similar online programme, so you can change your outline and reorder points as much as you need without having to scribble anything out.
5. Proofread everything you write
No matter what you’re writing, always make time to proofread it one last time before printing or sending it off. We all make mistakes, and while making a typo isn’t the end of the world, you will look more professional if you’ve ironed out any mistakes before submitting something.
Reading what you’ve written aloud, reading it back or getting a trusted friend to read through it for you are all great ways of catching those little errors.
Things to watch out for:
- Unnecessarily over-complicated language
- Waffling or missing the point
- Disjointed paragraphs, no ‘flow’
- Filler words, like ‘that’ and ‘just’
How to demonstrate your writing skills in job applications
Some graduate recruiters will ask you to submit a writing sample or perform a short writing test as part of your application, but even if they don’t, take the opportunity to show off your writing skills in your CV and cover letter. Even your emails are a chance to show that you can communicate clearly and effectively.
Above all, when applying for any job, be sure to use the tips listed above as a checklist, ensuring that anything you write — from a LinkedIn message to a CV — is as clear and concise as possible.
And remember, proofread, proofread, proofread!
At Student Circus, we’re here to help international students secure their dream jobs in the UK. Find out more, including how we can help you, by clicking here.
Written by Talya
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash