Writing is one of the most sought after skills by employers, and the ability to write well will increase your value on the job market.
Businesses always appreciate good communication skills, and since much or even most communicating is written these days, writing is an important one to master. If it comes down to two equally qualified and likeable candidates for a position, in many cases, from admin assistant to management, the hiring manager will go for the one with the better writing skills.
Fortunately, Canadian society is a well educated and pretty literate one. Plus, auto-correct does a lot of the work for you (so there is no excuse to be spelling “definitely” as “definately.” What is up with that, anyway?). And as such, most of us are already equipped with some good basics.
But there are still differences between good writing and bad writing, and several ways in which decent writing can be made better through editing. This means slashing, cutting, and rewriting, something nobody likes to do but that is usually necessary.
To start, here are five things to cut from your writing to dramatically improve it.
Qualifiers and intensifiers. These are words or phrases used to modify the meaning of other words. “She is really smart” or “It was very cold,” for example.
Sometimes they’re useful, like when you’re hedging your bets, and need to say something like “This is arguably the best resume you will ever see in your life.”
But other times they’re really very annoying.
See? That sentence didn’t need “really” and “very.” “Annoying” is enough on its own: “But other times they’re annoying.”
Also, avoid using qualifiers and intensifiers just because you’re too lazy to find a better word. Is she “really smart,”or is she in fact “brilliant”? Is it “very cold,” or could it possibly be “freezing”?
Never say in two words what can be said in one. This is a golden rule of writing.
“That” as a conjunction. Sometimes you need “that.” Most times you don’t. To find out if you need it, strike it. If the sentence still looks good, you didn’t need it:
That is the job that I applied for.
I read the letter that you sent.
See? Superfluous. And that is all that I have to say about that.
Exclamation marks. New writers and lazy writers often use exclamation marks to convey excitement!!! It’s become more and more common over the last few years!!!! Knock it off!!! Exclamation marks should be used like spice and scent – sparingly.
Caps. THE SAME GOES FOR CAPS. IF YOU ARE NOT YELLING THERE IS NO REASON TO USE CAPS ALL THE TIME. AND IF YOU USE CAPS ALL THE TIME HOW WILL PEOPLE KNOW WHEN YOU ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO EMPHASIZE SOMETHING OR ARE REALLY MAD? (THE SAME QUESTION APPLIES TO EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!) THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO ADD EMPHASIS THAT AREN’T THIS IRRITATING.
Fancy words. Individuals belonging to the species Homo Sapien oftentimes tend to envision themselves as appearing more perspicacious and erudite when they employ complicated verbiage in their missives.
If you’re in academia, knock yourself out. If you’re communicating with normal people (no offense to my husband, who is a PhD candidate) use simple words. Big words make you look like you’re trying too hard to impress.
Cut these things from your writing and it will be better.
What do you wish people would cut from their writing? Tell us.