In the research for our most recent Thinkopolis report, we found that while some university degrees lead straight to a related job, the career paths for Liberal Arts grads were somewhat more meandering. The good news is that there is one skill that you will acquire while studying any of the humanities that will pay off on the job hunt – and throughout the long and winding course of your career.

That’s because it is one of those skills that is transferable, useful regardless of the job or industry that you are in. So, while the most common first jobs of graduates from fields such as History, Philosophy, or Sociology tend to be in customer service, sales, or administrative roles – these people are 68% more likely than their less educated peers to have moved into management positions within a few years on the job, in whatever industry they work in.

The one skill that sets you apart

What all of these degrees have in common is that to graduate you have to have produced numerous reports, essays, and presentations. You need to be able to absorb complex concepts and communicate them convincingly to an audience. You have to be able to write.

The ability to write is one of the 10 most in-demand skills that we have found employers searching for in resumes. The beginnings of a successful job search are usually written. Your online profiles, your cover letter, and resumes all showcase your ability to write.

Almost every article on effective resumes ever written makes note of the fact that spelling mistakes and typos will sink your chances. If you can’t write, most employers will toss your resume before even reading about the other stuff that you are great at.

Better writers make fewer mistakes, so honing your writing abilities not only gives you a top in-demand skill in your resume, it means employers will actually read your resume.

Good writers make more money

A report put out by Grammarly (who are experts at this stuff) showed that people who use proper grammar advance further and faster in their careers. For this study, they analysed the LinkedIn profiles of native English speaking professionals, and compared their language skills with their career trajectories over a ten year period. Their findings were telling.

People with poor grammar skills don’t rise to the top. Those who had not reached a director-level position in the first 10 years of their working lives made 2.5 times as many grammatical mistakes as people who earned director-level titles or higher.

The professionals who made fewer grammatical mistakes were promoted more often and changed jobs more frequently than did their more error-prone contemporaries.

Grammarly also found that better writers make more money across industries – notably in the fields of engineering and manufacturing, legal, sales and marketing. They determined this by reviewing the grammar and spelling of hundreds professional profiles across industries and comparing the career-level and earnings of individuals with the number of writing errors they had made.

There’s a reason Liberal Arts grads are 68% more likely to quickly move into leadership roles.

Write your way to the top

Even if you don’t have a liberal arts degree, and don’t want to invest the time and money acquiring one – you can still focus on obtaining the essential employability skill of writing. You don’t have to be a full-time student to take a writing course. Find one that focuses on correspondence, reports, and presentations. Reading also helps you improve your own writing, as does practice.

Being able to write well will help you succeed in almost any career field. Every time you write an email, a report, or even a quick note, you can stand out as a communicator from the many people who are poor spellers or don’t use proper grammar.

While jobs for traditional print journalists are in decline, there are still plenty of career paths available for writers. In fact, technology staffing firm Robert Half recently ranked “Content Strategist” as one of the hottest job titles to watch for 2015.

And if writing is not your role but just one of the many skillsets you bring to the table, because it is such a transferable skill, it can always help you to successfully change jobs or industries – as people are doing more and more throughout their careers. (Job hopping is the new normal.)

Good story telling in an interview allows you to frame your past skills and qualifications to the needs of the role you are targeting. It impresses interviewers. And hey, who knows how to craft great stories? Writers.

Check out the hundreds of jobs for writers on Workopolis.

And by the way, aspiring scribblers, I’ve left a couple of errors in the writing of this piece for you to practice on. Can you find them?

See also:

  • So, what are you going to do with that English degree
  • The university degrees that earn the highest starting salaries
  • Where can that liberal arts degree take you on the Canadian job market right now?
  • Essential employability skills for 2014
  • Ten work skills that are obsolete in 2014
  • _______

    Peter Harris

    Peter Harris on Twitter