If I had to sum up my learning in business writing class with one word, that word would be “simplicity”. In almost all forms of writing, but especially in business writing, simplicity is much better than complexity. For example, a work email with one, simple sentence and a clear next step is much better than two paragraphs with several questions and thoughts on different projects.
Applying this concept more broadly, I’ve learned in this class that a simple personal brand is much more effective than a confusing one. I’ve realized that I need to have a much more concise and clear personal brand identity. Rather than having three to five primary skills or top accomplishments, I would be better served to just emphasize one core attribute. Doing this will help me be more memorable in my career.
Up to this point, I’ve been honing several different skills and stretching myself between a few different fields. Before this class, I definitely realized this could become a problem for me later in my career, but I did not think of how this could be confusing to potential employers, clients, or even friends. Now I am looking at how I can position myself as an authority in just one area of expertise, and possibly in just one industry.
If you had viewed my LinkedIn or resume before I enrolled in this course, you might have been a little confused. I had work experience in several different industries, such as insurance, software, and sales consulting. Not only that, but my positions were in varying roles, from financial analysis to sales. Of course, this isn’t a problem that can be fixed overnight; my past work experience can’t just be erased and rewritten. However, I now know that a list of my work experience should send a clear message about who I am and what I can do. Potential employers shouldn’t feel confused about my qualifications after reading my resume.
My plan moving forward is to only take jobs in finance, and to have an understanding of the specific skills and qualifications I will gain from each position. Each job should provide me with three to five strong talking points that all fit cohesively into the image of myself I want to portray to future employers.
The second-most important lesson I’ve learned from this course is communicating ideas, problems, and results effectively through email. I felt that I was strong in communicating via email before this course, mostly because I could take on a professional tone in my emails. However, I was missing the knowledge to properly write the content of professional emails. I now know that shorter is much better, even if that means cutting the formalities. Especially in writing an email to a professional colleague or boss with whom I already have a relationship, the most important lesson I learned is to convey only the absolutely necessary information to that person. It is also critical to leave a clear next step (even if that means telling the recipient that he or she doesn’t have to respond).
Another helpful insight I gained from this course is that formatting is an underutilized yet valuable tool. For example, bulleted lists, when applicable, are much more useful for conveying information than an unbroken paragraph. Bold headings that separate different sections are also helpful for breaking up long pieces of content. I’ve already made a habit of including these formatting “tricks” into emails to colleagues, clients, and professors to help convey my information more effectively.
Overall, the knowledge I gained in this class will help to simplify my communications and hopefully my path to success.