True or False: Do university and college graduates have the necessary business English skills to land a good job?
If you answered, “true,” I’m afraid, for the most part, you’re wrong. A recent Conference Board study reported that approximately 30% of employers rated new work force entrants with a 4-year college degree as deficient in written communication. And just the other day a senior counselor at an alumni career centre at a major Canadian university told me that deficiency in English language skills is a real obstacle for many of their recent graduates.
Many alumni were not getting job offers because their business English communication skills were so poor. She’d even had a prospective employer from a large financial institution complain about the cover letters they were receiving from graduates. They were so poorly written that the company couldn’t consider hiring any of these applicants. (Speaking of cover letters, you may want to have a look at a previous post: How To Write A Good Cover Letter.)
Yes, it’s true that for many of these recent graduates, English is not their first language. But the reality is, English has increasingly become the global language of business. People everywhere in the world are discovering that it’s essential to have a good command of English in order to succeed in business.
When I’ve taught English as a Second Language courses to adults, many of my students, qualified professionals such as architects, lawyers, bankers, and accountants, could not find work in their chosen field because they lacked solid business English skills.
The following results of a study conducted by the Global English corporation emphasizes the seriousness of this situation:
– 91% of employees say English is critical or important for their current jobs.
– Only 7% say their current English skills are sufficient.
– 89% of employees state they are more likely to advance in their company if they can communicate effectively in English.
The Global English study points out that the most difficult situations for people struggling with business English are, in order of importance: making telephone calls, socializing with colleagues, participating in meetings, writing emails, and answering questions. These are critical requirements in almost any work situation. Fortunately, there is a range of ways to improve your business English skills.
1. Talk Is Cheap: Practice speaking in English as much as possible.
2. Get A Little Help From Your Friends: Have someone read significant business correspondence before sending it.
3. Be A Constant Reader: Read business publications, both print (newspapers; magazines) and online.
4. Be A Couch Potato With A Purpose: Watch business programs on TV.
5. Increase Your Vocabulary: Write down words you don’t understand then look them up. Try using these words in conversation.
6. Seek Higher Education: Take a course – there is a range of programs specifically geared to improving business English. The Language Lab has a variety of courses to improve your business English communication.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and the same is true for developing a career. So if you want to advance – or in the case of recent university graduates even start a career – the best way to build a future is to begin with the right tools: learn good business English!
Be sure to send us your tips or links on How to Advance Your Career and we’ll publish them on our site.