When torn between potential new hires, it might be wise to choose the candidate with strong writing skills.
We know that businesses are spending billions each year on remedial writing training, and in a modern workplace that requires employees to spend hours each day sending emails, writing reports, and interacting with clients,weak writing skills can be a major hindrance to business growth (not to mention the damage poor writing skills can do to public perception of a business's brand.)
Employers Want Strong Writers
Recent research proves that written communication skills are at the top of employers' wish lists. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73.4% of employers want a candidate with strong written communication skills. Written communication was the number three most desired quality overall, behind leadership skills and ability to work as a team member.
Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp (and Inc. columnist), also commented on the importance of hiring those with strong writing skills in his book, Rework.
"If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. [His/her] writing skills will pay off. That's because being a good writer is about more than writing clear writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else's shoes. They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate. Writing is making a comeback all over our society...Writing is today's currency for good ideas," he wrote.
The Rise of the English/Communications Major
While much of the modern educational system puts a focus on STEM education (that's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), it seems that now, more than ever,it's writing that is becoming the sought-after skill in the hiring market.
At the college level, The Association of American Colleges and Universities echoed this sentiment. Their survey found that in 2013, 93% of employers said, "A demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is important."
Additionally, 75% of employers noted that they wanted a stronger focus on written communication skills at the college level.
In hiring situations, candidates who have college majors like English and Communications may be on the rise as favored candidates.
Steve Strauss, a best-selling author, said that he, too, favors English majors in the hiring process--not only because they can effectively communicate with through their writing abilities, but because they better understand communication as a whole, which makes them easier to work with.
The bottom line: As business continues to move into increasingly tech-based communication (like email, texting, etc.), hiring a team with strong writing skills is essential.