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Think writing skills aren't important? Research finds good writers have better careers

In a world where technical skills seem to be valued above nearly anything, college students might not see writing as a relevant skill to their career path.

In the third virtual lecture installment of University of Houston-Clear Lake's "College of Human Sciences and Humanities Presents..." series, Assistant Professor of Writing Lorie Jacobs will share the results of her research into how strong writing skills factor into success in the workplace. Her presentation entitled, "What Employers Want: Writing in UHCL's Top Four Majors," will be held Monday, March 8 at 6 p.m.

"We looked into UHCL's top four majors, which are education, healthcare administration, psychology, and accounting," Jacobs said. "We then spoke with numerous professionals in those fields about what role writing plays in their workplaces and received a volume of data."

She said that although it was possible to get hired for good technical skills at first, it wasn't enough to sustain a career with an upward trajectory. "Very soon, they'll start expecting you to perform written communications effectively," she said. "The data indicates that good writing skills are absolutely essential for promotion."

She added that written demands for employees across all industries are spreading and becoming more varied. "There are many complex, rhetorical situations in which writing skills become a factor," she said. "For example, accountants I spoke with said that they preferred a new employee come in with good communication skills rather than good technical skills. The technical skills can be taught, but with the communications demands in the workplace, they would like to see a candidate with good writing skills already in place."

Students pursuing science-related paths might believe that communication skills are "soft" skills and therefore less critical. "Nothing happens in science unless it's published and other scientists have been able to read and communicate about something," Jacobs said. "It's a real disservice to imagine written communications don't play an essential role."

Learn more about "The College of HSH Presents..." series, and register for this virtual presentation online.