Employers Want College Grads Who Can Write

Jeff Selingo, editorial director of the Chronicle of Higher Education, reports that “the one skill that almost every job requires is the ability to write well.”

[Jeff Selingo, “Wanted: Better Employees,” Next, 12 December 2011.]

“In the past few months,” Selingo writes, “at conferences, at dinners, and on airplanes, I’ve had the chance to sit next to a handful of recruiters who work for companies large and small, from Zappos to United Technologies.” Asking if colleges were preparing students for corporate jobs, he received responses with four “common themes”: “some students are not college material even with a college degree,” many graduates can’t write well, many lack a strong work ethic, and many have an inflated sense of entitlement.

The second set of responses reinforces my determination to emphasize writing in my courses. As Selingo explains,

We keep throwing around the word “skills,” but it seems the one skill that almost every job requires is the ability to write well, and too many graduates are lacking in that area. That’s where many of the recruiters were quick to let colleges off the hook, for the most part. Students are supposed to learn to write in elementary and secondary school. They’re not forgetting how to write in college. It’s clear they’re not learning basic grammar, usage, and style in K-12.

He could have added that there’s a lot more to good writing than basic grammar, usage, and style, and even students who mastered those in high school can improve in areas like analysis and organization. As a humanities professor, I am glad to use my classroom and this site to help students improve skills that are in such demand.

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