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ProSkills Exercise: Written Communication
ProSkills
Written Communication
Writing Clear and Effective Business
Documents
Whether it’s a simple email message sent to a group, a memo to provide information on
an upcoming event, or a press release introducing a new product to the market, the
quality of your written communications tells the world how prepared, informed, and
detailoriented you are. When searching for a job, an ability to write clearly and effectively is
essential. After all, your fi rst contact with a company is often a cover letter and resume.
For a prospective employer, these documents provide the fi rst indicators of the kind of
employee you might be. To make the best possible impression, follow these important
rules in all types of business communication.
Rule One: Identify Your Audience
Who will read your document? What do they already know about your subject? For
starters, you can assume your audience is made up of busy people who will only take the
time to read what is important and relevant to them. They don’t want to be entertained.
They just want to read the information you have to present as quickly as possible. In the
case of a resume and cover letter, your audience is typically one or more professional
people who don’t know you. The goal of your resume and cover letter, then, should be to
introduce yourself quickly and effi ciently.
Rule Two: Do Your Research
Provide all the information the reader will need to make a decision or take action. Be
absolutely certain that the facts you present are correct. Don’t assume that something
is true just because a friend told you it was, or because you read it on the Web. Verify
all your facts using reputable sources. Remember, your goal as a writer is to make the
reader trust you. Nothing alienates a reader faster than errors or misleading statements.
When applying for a job, make sure that you are knowledgeable about the company, so
that you can mention relevant and accurate details in your cover letter.
Rule Three: State Your Purpose
At the beginning of the document, explain why you are writing. The reader shouldn’t
have to wonder. Are you writing to inform, or do you want action to be taken? Do you
hope to change a belief or simply state your position? In a cover letter
accompanying your resume, state clearly that you are writing to apply for a job, and then explain
exactly what job you are applying for. That might sound obvious, but many job
applicants forget about directness in their efforts to come across as clever or interesting. This
only hurts their chances, because prospective employers typically have many cover
letters to read, with no time to spare for sorting through irrelevant information.
Rule Four: Write Succinctly
Use as few words as possible. Don’t indulge in long, complicated words and sentences
because you think they make you sound smart. The most intelligent writing is often short
and to the point. Keep in mind that hiring a new employee is a very time-consuming
process. In small companies, people in charge of hiring often have to do it while performing
their regular duties. Thus, the more succinct your resume and cover letter, the greater the
chances that a potential employer will actually read both documents.
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