Write It Well delivered a pair of e-mail writing workshops at Leadership Public High School in Richmond on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. In this era of high speed electronic communication and high-profile e-mail misfires, e-mail messages are in the spotlight. The workshops were designed to help high school seniors improve the quality of their e-mail messages and learn what’s appropriate as they prepare for college applications, summer jobs and internships, and the demands of the business world.
More people are entering the workforce without the ability to express themselves clearly in writing. According to The National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges, schools and colleges today neglect writing and, as a result, many college graduates enter the workforce with poor writing skills. Yet, writing – and e-mail writing – is a fundamental business skill. In fact, a recent survey by the Commission found that half of all companies assess writing skills during the hiring process and when making promotion decisions.
Poorly written e-mail can sabotage job prospects while effective e-mail opens doors. “People often enter the workforce without an understanding of what it means to communicate professionally. College applicants can really set themselves apart with a basic knowledge of what’s appropriate and effective in e-mail communication,” says Preston Lewis, Director of Talent, Bonfire Communications.
Leadership Public High School serves grades 9 through 12 in Richmond, CA . The school offers college preparatory curriculum in a small and safe learning environment. “This is not something I’d know how to teach so it’s really nice to have someone come in and teach it to our students,” says Andy Hatcher, 12th Grade English Teacher, Leadership Public High School.
To conduct the training, Write It Well donated copies of its bestselling book, E-Mail – A Write It Well Guide: How to Write and Manage E-Mail in the Workplace. “This book should be required reading,” comments David Krane, Director of Corporate Communications for Google, Inc.
The ability to write an effective e-mail is also essential for landing a job. “Excellent communication skills are universally appreciated in business, and in many cases it’s a core requirement for candidates. Well-constructed, thoughtful and professionally written emails make a powerful first impression, and will often set a candidate apart from the rest of the pack.” Sharon Kittredje, Managing Partner, HIRE Talent Management Solutions, Inc.
“Quality counts,” says Kevin Hoover, Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Duke University. “E-mail has greatly expanded the range of student-faculty interactions and of collaborations among students. When students write clear, crisp, organized, and polite messages, e-mail enriches learning. Sadly, too often poorly written e-mail inhibits useful communications and undermines learning.”
E-mail has become the primary method of business communication, surpassing the telephone as our preferred communication tool in the workplace (Datamonitor report, September 2007). While most people already sense that this is the case, most of us don’t stop to consider the implications for our careers. “While most of us understand that poorly written e-mail can waste time, we forget that poorly written e-mail can also create costly misunderstandings, catapult deadlines, delay deliverables, impact people’s opinion of you, and sabotage your career,” says Natasha Terk, president of Write It Well.
According to Xobni, a San Francisco-based start-up that has developed an Outlook add-on to help manage e-mail, by 2009, workers are expected to spend 40 percent of their time writing and managing e-mail. It’s an important skill to hone since poorly written can be embarrassing. In fact, in a recent Write It Well survey, a whopping eighty-eight percent of respondents said that poorly written e-mail messages leave a poor impression of not only the writer, but the writer’s organization as well.