Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as ¿building blocks¿ because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Authors and writers plan, research and write books, scripts, storyboards, plays, essays, speeches, manuals, specifications and other non-journalistic articles for publication or presentation. They are employed by advertising agencies, governments, large corporations, private consulting firms, publishing firms, multimedia/new-media companies and other establishments, or they may be self-employed.
- Experience writers' block. They interrupt writing and do something else until inspiration returns. (1)
- Are unable to complete job tasks as planned because office equipment is not working properly and services such as telephone and Internet access are interrupted. For example, a writer may be unable to e-mail a text to a client because Internet service is unavailable. The writer prints a copy of the text and sends it to the client by fax to avoid undue delay. (1)
- Realize that deadlines for the delivery of texts to clients, co-workers and colleagues will be missed because important data cannot be obtained. They contact clients, co-workers and colleagues to outline the reasons for delays and negotiate new deadlines. (2)
- May experience difficulties in finding publishers for their work. For example, authors may receive refusal letters from editors. They may contact these editors to find out why their manuscripts were refused and to ascertain if changes might improve the chances of manuscripts being published. They may then rewrite manuscripts and resubmit them to editors for review. (3)
- May be unable to identify, locate, contact and interview people who have information relevant to writing assignments. For example, a feature writer may experience difficulty identifying informants willing to provide facts and opinions for a magazine article on the characteristics of successful work teams. The writer attempts to obtain names from friends, relatives and human resource managers in large corporations, but to no avail. The writer then contacts a business association's headquarters and convinces the director to send an e-mailed invitation which asks members to collaborate in the research. (3)
- Accept and refuse suggestions for changes and edits to writing proposed by co-workers, colleagues and clients. For example, authors accept editors' changes to essays, biographies, novels, feature articles and other texts when they believe that the changes will improve flow, coherence, readability and panache. (2)
- May select office equipment to purchase. For example, self-employed technical and advertising writers may select desktop publishing software programs in order to broaden their range of contract opportunities. They verify which programs are most often used by clients. They also consider the costs and user-friendliness offered by each option. (2)
- May select research assistants and proofreaders. They consider applicants' academic backgrounds, skills, work histories, strengths, weaknesses and availabilities. (2)
- May decide to bid on projects which involve the provision of speech, technical and advertising writing services. They review requests for proposals, identify project tasks and requirements and bid on projects for which they have the necessary skills and resources. (3)
- Choose approaches for their writing assignments. For example, advertising writers may select short words and sentences, startling statements, quotes, news, storytelling and testimonials to bring out the selling features of products, services and organizations. Playwrights may select writing styles, structures and techniques to create monologues and dialogues which will capture, entertain, enlighten and influence audiences. (4)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- May evaluate the performance of workers such as research assistants and proofreaders. As part of these assessments, they determine the extent to which workers have met expectations and deadlines. They may recommend and offer further assignments at the conclusion of these evaluations. (2)
- Evaluate the relevance of information to writing assignments. For example, a feature writer may evaluate the relevance of many textbooks and journal articles when preparing a piece on women's ageing. The writer checks to see when these books and articles were published and whether they contain new information. (2)
- Evaluate the suitability of their writing style for given clients, audiences, topics and media. For example, an author may assess the suitability of a manuscript for particular publishers by reading abstracts of books in their catalogues. (3)
Own Job Planning and Organizing
Authors and writers plan and organize job tasks to meet the needs of writing assignments. Self-employed technical, advertising and feature writers often work on several projects at the same time and must be able to manage priorities. They may have to reorganize job tasks to cope with delays in obtaining important interviews and data, equipment breakdowns and other emergencies. (3)
Planning and Organizing for Others
Authors and writers may be responsible for assigning tasks to workers such as research assistants and proofreaders. (3)
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember scripts for speeches and presentations. For example, authors may memorize important names and dates for the presentation of biographies and essays at book launchings, conferences and radio and television programs.
- Find information about potential clients, publishers, subcontractors and interviewees by searching their websites and contacting co-workers and colleagues who know them. (3)
- Find information about terms with which they are not familiar by consulting co-workers and colleagues and by searching terminological databases, glossaries, technological files, textbooks, dictionaries and websites. (3)
- Find information about the subjects of writing assignments. They analyze, synthesize and integrate information from a wide range of sources, including interview data, books, reports, studies, newspapers, magazines, academic journals and the Internet. For example, an author writing a biography may interview key personalities and subject matter experts and conduct extensive literature searches. (4)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Authors and writers integrate and coordinate job tasks with small groups of co-workers and colleagues. They work with reviewers and editors to improve the coherence and readability of essays, biographies, novels, feature articles and other texts. They may work with artistic directors, musical directors, graphic artists, comedians and producers on the production of commercials, plays, movies, humorous sketches and television series. They may direct, lead, supervise and train research assistants. (2)
Authors and writers set their own learning goals and undertake learning activities to further their knowledge of terminologies, writing styles and topics relevant to writing assignments. On a day-to-day basis, they acquire new learning by searching specialized dictionaries and glossaries, terminological and linguistic databases and websites and by reading newspapers, magazines, books, reports, studies and academic journals. They also attend conferences, seminars, symposia, workshops and courses offered by professional writers' associations and other organizations. (4)