April 11, 2016 - Posted to Tips
Starting at a new workplace is always fraught whatever your role; secretary, warehouse manager or van driver. All have their own challenges and all, at some point, involve writing something. It may be an email, an inventory, an invoice or a white paper for an ad campaign - whatever it is writing has never been so important.
According to the results of a recent Communicare survey, 58% of Canadian workers spend from 2 to 4 hours daily reading written texts (e.g. reports, emails). Among the costs of badly written communications 85% named wasted time, 70% - lost productivity, and 63% - errors. Moreover, this problem is widespread. 71% of responders have heard their colleagues complain about poorly written communications.
Here are a few pointers to help you shine in your new job ...
1) Brush up your “Word” skills
Make sure that your “Word” skills are up to date. Whether your company uses “Word” or Apache or any other form of word processing software, “Word” is ubiquitous and documents will be sent in that format 99% of the time and you need to know how to deal with such documents. Learn how to copy and forward and how to attach and blind copy such documents. You may have to reply or comment on such documents so learn how to annotate or make notes on them.
2) Learn your tables
It is becoming commonplace to enter writing information into spreadsheets in order to construct variations in sentences and phrases. Learn how to tabulate and use such spreadsheets to write documents and how to transfer them to “Word” and other documents.
3) Brush up on your grammar
You may be out of practice with your writing so just brush up a bit with an online course or a book from the library. You don’t need to be John Steinbeck but you do need to be able to put a coherent and properly constructed email or letter together. You never know when such skills will be called on and you want to be ready to step in if asked to help out.
4) Keep lists of important information
Keep a list of names of clients, colleagues, competitors and other important people that you may have to write to in some capacity. There is nothing worse than receiving a letter or email with your name spelt wrongly - don’t be guilty of doing that to someone else. It looks slack and it is one of those things that people remember - for a long time. Pay particular attention to titles, ie. Miss, Ms, Mrs and foreign names and titles, ie. Fraulein Braun, Mademoiselle Chiampi.
5) Proofread - then proofread again
Proofread everything. If there is time proofread your email, letter, or whatever you need to send and then set it aside for ten minutes and look at it with fresh eyes. You will be surprised at just how many times you will spot mistakes that you missed in the first round of checks. If it's hard for you to proofread by yourself, try work with paper writing service.
6) Look after yourself
Make sure that if you are spending ages in front of a computer screen, writing, that you have a screen anti-glare system in place or turn the screen brightness down. Make sure that your work area is adequately lit and that your chair is the right height for your workstation to avoid neck and arm aches and ongoing problems with your back and eyes. They are important - look after them.
Make a habit of reading a quality newspaper or magazine or current book by a good writer. A good book can be a major writing motivation, as it inspires you to write. This will keep your vocabulary and phrasing up to date. There will be words which go in and out of currency at various times - buzzwords and slang which creep in and that you need to be familiar with. Even if you do not actually use such words, you have to understand them and be able to respond. If you are dealing with start ups or highly technical products or services, reading trade journals, and even technical manuals or sales brochures, will keep you current with spellings and phrasing.
8) Do some homework
The internet has a plethora of resources to aid writing. It is possible to sign up to free courses for typing, spell checking, grammar checking, and other writing tools. Google Docs even has templates for common documents such as CVs, resumes, official letters, emails and invitations to name but a few. Get to know these; you never know when you might need to use them for a special project or task.
9) Check and re-check
When you have written your communication or letter just ask yourself, “if that were me receiving this would it be right?” Your prose must fit your intended audience. An email to a company director would be in different language to that sent to the janitor, for example. Make it succinct and clear. Do not use ten words when three will do. Try not to use too much jargon; or abbreviations without giving an explanation of their meaning with their first use.
Practice makes perfect - so practise your writing - and if you enjoy it, volunteer for writing projects at work. Get a reputation for being able to put together good work and this will get you noticed and hopefully flying off into your new career.
Good luck with it and happy writing ...