Improving Writing Skills: A Career Investment

A discussion about whether and how colleges prepare their graduates for gainful employment has been going on for some time, both inside and outside of academia. The discussion often centers on what employers actually want from the college graduates they seek to employ. In The New York Times, Alina Tugend drew together insights from  interviews and a research report by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace to come to this conclusion:

But, surprisingly, it wasn’t necessarily specific technical skills that were lacking.

“When it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving,” the report said.

Jaime S. Fall, a vice president at the HR Policy Association, an organization of chief human resources managers from large employers, said these findings backed up what his organization was hearing over and over from employers.

Young employees “are very good at finding information, but not as good at putting that information into context,” Mr. Fall said. “They’re really good at technology, but not at how to take those skills and resolve specific business problems.”

Karin Fischer, the author of the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, highlights these comments from one business leader:

However, it’s fundamental abilities that he says recent graduates lack, like how to analyze large amounts of data or construct a cogent argument. “It’s not a matter of technical skill,” he says, “but of knowing how to think.”

These insights suggest that investing in learning to write well could pay dividends in the job market. A student who has completed a major research report can demonstrate that he or she knows how to think, how to construct a cogent argument, how to analyze data, how to put information into context, and how to solve problems.

Fischer, K. (2013, June 30). A college degree sorts job applicants, but employers wish it meant more. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from:

Tugend, A. (2013, June 28). What it takes to make new college graduates employable. The New York Times. Retrieved from