My Single Most Valuable Skill

Recently, I’ve come to realize that my most valuable skill is my writing ability.

I’ve had the honor of helping a few of my just-graduating friends apply for jobs and polish their (sic due to laziness) resumes. From that experience and also being involved in a hiring process more than once, I’ve had a wide range of exposure to the “best” writings of others.

I say best because I imagine people would spend a significant time trying to write the very best cover letter they can. Unfortunately, much of what I read was riddled with run-on sentences, vague arguments about their ability, and a lack of focus. This doesn’t mean they didn’t get the job, but it certainly didn’t help with their first impression.

Writing is a skill we should all continuously improve. Granted, I probably make typos or grammatical errors all over this blog; I’m not perfect either. But I have always strived to improve my writing skills, which is why I have always kept a blog or journal.

Recently, my company offered to purchase gifts for everybody. One guy got really expensive headphones. One guy got an iPod Nano. One guy asked for an LCD. I asked for a $150 book. The book I received is called Steal This Book!: Million Dollar Sales Letters You Can Legally Steal to Suck in Cash Like a Vacuum on Steroids. Yes, quite possibly the worst title known to man. I wanted this book so I could see what excellent sales writing looks like.

Writing is persuasion. I used it when I wrote cover letters to convince employers to give me a job. I used it to sell my case to a professor a few years back when I realized I had accidentally skipped a midterm (long story short, I passed). And most importantly, it helps me practice expressing arguments in a coherent manner — a skill that comes into play when I start opening my mouth.

In other words:

Writing is like singing: anybody can do it, but most people suck at it.

By the way, I suck at singing.