How do you decide between two equally worthy candidates? When in doubt, hire the person with the best writing skills, says Kris Dunn, chief human resources officer for Kinetix and author of The HR Capitalist blog.
1. People talk the way they write. If they have trouble putting together a sentence, they’ll have trouble making an introduction or a presentation.
2. There’s this crazy little thing called e-mail, based almost entirely on the ability to write.
3. When fumbled, e-mail can offend and even trigger lawsuits.
4. The ability to convey ideas and persuade—all using the written word—makes an employee more valuable to your organization.
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“Writing skills can influence almost anyone—customers, fellow employees, media and competitors, to name a few—and we don’t pay enough attention to the value it provides in the hiring process,” Dunn says.
We’re not talking about the kind of writing used in term papers. Instead, find out whether the person can write thoughts in an engaging, personable and influencing manner.
Like art, you know good writing when you see it. But you’ll need a test.
Dunn’s favorite way? Pick something you didn’t talk about in the interview and that isn’t on the applicant’s résumé. Send the candidate a note asking a detailed question—something that warrants an e-mail response of several paragraphs. To get enough specifics, make sure you ask for the candidate’s opinion.
Then, consider the resulting e-mail in the overall candidate’s profile—and use it as a deciding factor in case of ties.
Does your writing sometimes make people think, "Huh?" When you write a letter, report or email, do you always get your message across?
It’s time to take your writing to a new level. Once you know how to write – and how not to – your communication will get results every time. And you’ll see your career advancing further than you ever thought possible.
Appendix: 13 Quick Tips to Polish Your Business Writing
1. Writer’s checklist: Use a Focus Sheet
2. A credibility lesson from Yogi Berra
3. Trim the fat from business writing
4. Is your writing foggy? Check the ‘fog index’
5. Use transitions to improve flow of ideas
6. Put a positive spin on your writing
7. Pen an opening line with the 3 R’s
8. How to write your best request
9. 6 ways to tighten your communications
10. Heed 3 cardinal rules of business writing
11. 7 phrases to ban in business writing
12. Cater your writing to ‘skimmers’
13. Not so fast with a spell-checker
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