Could your writing get you fired?

6 reasons your boss won’t tolerate bad writing skills.

If you want to land and keep a job in today’s market, communication is the name of the game. From your first job interview to your daily business interactions, your job performance will rely on what you say and how you say it. And, as organizations become more connected with their clients and peers through the Internet, excellent written communication will become one of the most important job skills you learn.

But why is writing so important to keeping your hard-won job? Here are just a few of the reasons why your boss won’t tolerate poor writing skills.

1. “Lolz” make you look bad

While text lingo and Twitter speak may save you some characters in your personal life, it really damages your boss’s reputation. It’s hard to take someone seriously who spells the word, “srsly.” In most offices, there is a professional etiquette when it comes to writing letters to clients or interoffice communication. Writing in shorthand or slang makes you look less educated, disrespectful, or ignorant. In turn, that makes your boss look like an idiot for hiring you.

2. Disorganized ideas = disorganized mind

Even if you know how to use language effectively, if you don’t know how to organize it, you won’t get your ideas across effectively. If you can’t write a logical and cohesive summary of a project, paper reviewing a new strategy, or a personal note to a client, you have a very short career ahead of you. The ability to explain an idea without confusing the reader is one of the most vital collaborative skills. If you are unable to create a simple essay with a concrete thesis, body of supporting evidence, and conclusion, you will be at a severe disadvantage in the job market.

3. Don’t take that tone

In many customer-related businesses, written communication is one of the areas that causes the most trouble. If you don’t have the ability to write for a specific audience and recognize the tone of your writing, you can potentially offend people, drive away business, or even get yourself fired. Take this follow-up letter for example.

“Dear Sir:

I’m sorry that you decided not to show up to our appointment. I’m sure you had much more important things to do than to save $1000 on your annual car insurance.”

Not only is this apology condescending and sarcastic, it’s likely to lead to the loss of a potential client. The writer failed to consider the feelings of the reader, and will now have to deal with an irate customer and manager.

4. Editing mistakes lead to loss

Another area that can get you into big trouble is editing. Without completing the editing step on your writing, embarrassing mistakes can accidently be shared with important clients or colleagues. While this makes you look less competent, it also can lead to serious miscommunications that can damage the reputation of the organization or cause significant financial loss.

For example, if you write, “10,00 will be refunded to your account,” instead of “10.00 will be refunded to your account,” an irate customer may claim that they deserve $1,000 instead of the $10.00 that you meant. After a few of these kinds of mistakes, a manager will consider whether your employment is really worth the amount of money your writing skills are costing the company.

5. Plagiarism and penalties

Often, weak writers resort to copying when they don’t know exactly what to say. In college, this can lead to a poor grade or loss of credit. In a business setting, you can easily lose your job or damage your company’s reputation. If you “borrow” more than six words from a colleague or competitor, you need to share that with your management and cite your sources. Otherwise, both socially and legally, you are putting your company in jeopardy of copyright infringement or other potentially damaging legal recrimination.

6. Missing deadlines leads to distrust

Finally, time management is a key element of good writing. Excellent writers are able to know and meet deadlines, often days in advance. If you don’t learn this skill now, it could significantly impact your job performance later. In fact, missing deadlines is one of the most common reasons for disciplinary action in a professional setting. Missing deadlines makes managers feel that you are unorganized, undisciplined, and disrespectful. Although you may not be fired for missing one or two, consecutively missing assignment deadlines will negatively impact your job performance and can permanently damage your career.