Colleges and Employers Don’t Value Your Texting Skills

by Roth, Bob Tuesday, July 01, 2008
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Symbols, abbreviations and emoticons have gradually crept into the daily communication used by teenagers and young adults throughout the United States and beyond. Texting is now a necessary skill for every young person with a cell phone or a computer. Teenagers regularly depend on this abbreviated form of communication to quickly transmit words, thoughts and emotions to their friends.

Unfortunately, these informal communications can hamper the learning and use of more formal communication, the kind required for success in college and business.

Obviously, there is a spectrum of use and understanding. Some teenagers are experts in texting and painfully lacking in their knowledge and use of proper language and formal communication skills. Others are quite skilled with formal communication skills and relatively unskilled with informal styles. While many people fall somewhere in the middle, the fact remains that more formal communication skills, among young adults, are starting to suffer.

High school and college students sometimes, both purposely and inadvertently, allow various informal forms of communication to penetrate their homework assignments. In a recent study, The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that young people who have blogs and use social-networking sites are much more likely to have this happen.

For as long as I can remember, employers have complained about the communication skills of recent college graduates. Companies depend on employees with good communication skills to develop new products and services, market their benefits to customers, manage company finances and supervise other employees.

That’s why, when it comes to the best employment opportunities, college students with effective communication skills will have a huge advantage. No employer is going to offer a great paying job to someone with poor communication skills.

When employers think about communication skills, they are concerned with every aspect of communication, including: reading, speaking, writing, presenting, E-mail, voice mail, etiquette, document formats, writing style, vocabulary, slang, dress and grooming, body language, spelling, grammar, punctuation and more. They want and need people who will represent them in a positive and effective way. Importantly, poor communication skills may be interpreted as a sign of disrespect and can offend customers and employees alike. Fortunately, most communication problems can be corrected.

Regardless of which communication issue(s) you may be wrestling with personally, you will find a wide range of useful information on the internet. It’s worth a few hours of research to determine what exactly is available to you.

Additionally, books, coaches, tutors and classroom instruction can give you more personal attention and encouragement. (Don’t ignore your parents.) With practice and feedback, you can address the issues that will hold you back. The more time and effort you put into improving your communication skills, the better chance you have of finding success.

Students who plan to attend a well-respected college and expect to eventually become employed by a prominent company must begin to demonstrate a broad range of formal communication skills. Since texting is not one of those skills, high school and college students should take note and diligently work to expand and polish the critical academic and business communication skills that are required for success.