When it comes to must-haves that employers look for, there are few skills as important, and as frequently undervalued by applicants, as effective writing and communication.

According to a TIME magazine article on how writing can help you succeed in the workplace, “If you are a native English speaker and never learned the difference between it’s and its, an employer might wonder what else you’ve failed to learn that might be useful.”

Written and oral communication skills are so important that all degrees offered at Isothermal Community College require general education courses specifically in writing and communication.

“The reason all degree programs include humanities classes is a simple one; everyone benefits from improved communication skills,” said Dr. Kathy Ackerman, Isothermal’s dean of Arts and Sciences. “Think about it: from landing the job with a well written resume, to asking clear questions about a process, to responding to emails, all of those require a solid foundation of writing and communication skills.”

Some incoming students believe that developing writing skills is a thing of the past because technology makes it possible to communicate with fewer words and rely on tools like spell-check to correct errors.

It is not merely writing skills alone that are valuable; it is also the secondary skills that go into effective communication, critical thinking and self-reflection.

Students at Isothermal take writing and communication classes to develop and improve skills in:

1. Forming a Complete Argument – the ability to think through a problem from many different angles and address many sides of a situation to present a comprehensive solution. “This skill is valuable because it gives you the ability to separate yourself from a specific solution, to take away your own bias and really look at the problem you’re trying to solve. Then you can ask yourself ‘what if’ questions to really test your argument and make sure it doesn’t fall apart,” said Ackerman.

2. Revision and Self-Reflection – “As part of the writing process, students are asked to look at their work and really assess it. This focus on reflection creates an environment where revisions are valuable and seen as a logical part of the process,” added Ackerman.

3. Audience Awareness – “One of the most important things our students gain is an understanding that WHO they are talking to is as important as WHAT they have to say, which is also on an equal basis with HOW they choose to say it. Our students learn how to adapt their writing and communication style to one that best fits their audience so that their intended message actually gets through,” said Ackerman.

4. Genre Transformation – Students gain an understanding of different genres in the classroom and, when they pair those with their critical thinking skills and audience awareness, are able to choose the most effective way to communicate to achieve their specific purpose.

Time Magazine article cited above can be found at: http://business.time.com/2013/04/19/good-writing-can-help-you-succeed/