I don't think high-schools should be teaching English.
What they should be teaching is effective communication.
What's the difference?
In high-school English classes, I've seen seniors taking... vocabulary tests. This is so demeaning. Once we get to high school, most people know how to spell, and if they don't, they have Spell-Check for that. When they need a new word to describe something, they'll likely find it on Google. They will also learn over time when they get complaints about their professionalism.
What's more important, is knowing how to make someone understand what you're trying to say to them with as least problems as possible.
Not everyone has to learn how to be a good essay writer; but everyone absolutely needs to learn how to be an effective communicator if they want to succeed.
You can't teach that with verbose SAT style essays.
You can only teach that with real-world writing. Real-world writing includes writing about yourself in your resume, on your website or LinkedIn, or in your emails. The key is to finding how to make your writing and message stand above the rest.
In the book Make it Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, they break down how to make your message as sticky as possible.
The Heath brothers do this by teaching the acronym, SUCCESs:
Think about this in the frame of your job application.
1. Can an employer know exactly who you are in one simple sentence?
If they can't, then you just make it so much harder for them to know whether or not you are the right person for the job. Make it easy for them. Tell them the core of who you are in as few words as possible.
Stop trying to confuse them with your 10 billion club positions or random camps you went to.
2. Is your brand boring and typical (college degree, no internships, etc)? Or is it filled with unexpected and unique stories?
Getting what you want means proving what is unique about you.
It's about finding that story within yourself that makes your work irreplicable. It's about picquing the interest of whoever is reading your writing. People expect the normal -- so give them something interesting to be pleasantly surprised with.
3. Your results have to be concrete. How can a person trust your work ethic if you don't have the numbers to back it up?
Career coaches usually say something like "always include a number in your resume bullet points!" I hated most of the career coaches I've dealt with, but this is pretty sound advice.
The reasoning behind this is that it shows the tangible impact that you've had on the companies you've worked for. People don't like to take risks with no data, so the more numbers you can show them, the better.
Once you realize this, it gets pretty easy to prove how you're worth $10/hr.
4. How credible is your application? Do you have the numbers and testimonials to support your claims?
Never accept a job or internship without it being recorded in some way.
Whether that is through LinkedIn recommendations or Google Analytics tracking of your impact, the more records you have supporting your brand, the better. I always make it a point to do at least one thing worth writing about for a recommendation.
5. Provide all the facts you want; if it doesn't appeal to my emotions, then you're making an extremely weak case for yourself.
Paper can only show so much.
Finding a way to showcase your friendliness, your warmth, and your story is the key to humanizing yourself. You can do this through email, face-to-face, or an informational interview. Just don't rely on your resume.
Conversely, you also want to play on your employer's emotions as well. Figure out what kind of problem they're having, and notice the absolute relief on their face when you propose a way to solve that problem for them.
6. What is the story behind you and your brand?
One of the rarest things that employers see today are people who know themselves.
They're so rare, that it's a breath of fresh relief to have someone who knows what they want, can communicate what they want, and can explain how they plan on doing it.
You already have a story; it's just your job to tell it in the best way possible.
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