Lecture 08 writing_application_materials


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  • Most of the time “there” can be eliminated.
  • Lecture 08 writing_application_materials

    1. 1.  English 317: Technical Writing Writing: Cover Letters and Resumes 1
    2. 2. Writing Cover Letters2
    3. 3. Importance of Cover Letters Creates initial impression of you as a potential employee (or intern or graduate student). Provides a sample of your writing ability. Sells your qualifications. 3
    4. 4. Standard format for letters  Heading (consider using design features from resume) Date Recipient’s Address Subject Line Salutation (use a person’s name, name of department, or the business or organization – avoid “to whom it may concern” – too generic)  Introduction  Body  Closing  End Notations 4
    5. 5. Writing the introductory paragraph State the position you are applying for and where you learned of it. Compose a “thesis statement” that serves to interest reader and forecast what is in the letter. 5
    6. 6. Example 1 I am applying for the student practicum position recently posted at the University of Idaho’s College of Forestry. My coursework has prepared me well for this position and includes extensive study in all aspects of rangeland ecology and management. My senior class projects were focused in areas important to your organization: wild land vegetation restoration and forest ecosystem management.6
    7. 7. Example 2 The enclosed materials are in application of the project engineering position recently posted in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Idaho. My strong background in construction and engineering education make me well qualified for this position.7
    8. 8. Writing the body of your letter Compose paragraphs in statement - support form. Address the employer’s needs. Elaborate upon skills/experience/capabilities from your resume that are most applicable to the position. Display knowledge of the organization. Be specific in word choice and concise in phrasing. Show what separates you from other applicants. 8
    9. 9. Elements of the body of your letter. Education – focus on advanced course work, particularly projects Employment – Internships. Explain what you did. Be specific. Highlight accomplishments. 9
    10. 10. Writing the conclusion to your letter Emphasize something important to employer. Indicate when you are available for an interview. End on a forward looking note. 10
    11. 11. Pay close attention to prose style.Example 1:Wordy and Vague I have spent many hours in the laboratory and I am very familiar with this environment and feel quite comfortable working there.  Many, very, quite, and there are vague words. Have is not necessary. Revision 1: Concise but not specific I spent hours in the microbiology lab and feel comfortable in this familiar environment.  Feeling comfortable is nice but is it really helpful in conveying what you know how to do? Revision 2: Concise and specific My lab work in microbiology includes: [Follow with a list of standard lab techniques / protocols using a multiple column format or consider listing in a multiple column format. keywords and following with a description if appropriate.] 11
    12. 12. Review Structure and Coherence of Your Letter Start by outlining the structure. What is each paragraph doing that you wrote? Example: Paragraph 1: Science skills from coursework Paragraph 2: Leadership skills and employment Paragraph 3: Personal background Is this order emphasizing most skills/experience/capabilities to employer? Keep paragraphs to one topic. Use topic sentences. 12
    13. 13. Example 2: Wordy and Vague I studied for three years in Alaska at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. My coursework there included many hours of field trips, where I have worked closely With other team members mapping various volcanic areas and researched many of the volcanoes of the Aleutian chain. Most of the time there and have can be eliminated. The other underlined words here are vague. Notice how the revision on the next slide improves the paragraph both in terms of conciseness and specific detail.13
    14. 14. Revised During three years of study at the University of Alaska, my coursework included field trips, mapping and analyzing volcanic activity in the Aleutian chain. This research included working in teams of up to six People collecting . . . . .data using . . . . Reducing unnecessary and vague words allows writer to be more specific.14
    15. 15. End Notations Serve to explain what is included in your application. Here is an example.  Enclosed:  Resume 15
    16. 16. Strategies for Reviewing Read your writing as if you were the employer or graduate school. Check all sentences that “stop” your eye. Keep sentences short (15-20 words) unless you are skilled at writing compound sentences. Review to eliminate: 1. Vague words (many, very etc.). 2. Unnecessary tense constructions (I have). Paragraphs should seek to answer specific who, what, why, where, and how questions. 16
    17. 17. Writing Resumes17
    18. 18. Chronological Resume Arranged according to paid employment Lists positions in reverse chronological order Advantages / Disadvantages  works best for candidates with a work history that matches employer needs exactly.  if work history does not specifically fit needs, it may be difficult for employer to determine your fit despite the fact that you have skills the employer needs.  poor choice for recent graduates with no work history in their field of study. 18
    19. 19. Functional or Skills-Based Resume Arranged by categories of skills employer needs and includes descriptions of skills. Includes work history but not in the traditional format because the work history is not directly relevant to position. Advantages/Disadvantages  a good choice for recent graduates without work history directly related to a position  able to showcase educational, business, and extracurricular activities that demonstrate capabilities  employer may find it difficult to connect your capabilities to the needs of a specific position 19
    20. 20. Targeted Resume May be chronologically or functionally organized, or a combination of both. The aim is to match your skills / capabilities directly to the position, so it requires you to focus on what the employer needs Skills / capabilities not directly relevant to the position are either left off the resume or not emphasized. Advantages / Disadvantages  Employer can easily see how well you fit the position  Narrowness of approach may block other possibilities 20
    21. 21. Electronic Resumes ASCII – composed using limited ASCII character set, saved as .txt file, can be entered into organization’s database. Scannable – emphasizes nouns/noun phrases not verbs. Web authored - Posted on web boards such as LinkedIn. Print Resume – sent through snail mail, email, or posted within a data based. Remember to use pdf files for both cover letter and resume to preserve formatting. 21
    22. 22. Resume Design Requires design for eye-at-a-glance-appeal Omit information that is not relevant Focus with keywords (nouns and noun-phrases) and specific descriptions of skill sets using strong verbs Try different layouts If you use a template, modify it, so you don’t look like everyone else who is using the same template. 22
    23. 23. Standard Elements of Resumes23
    24. 24. Heading Contact information (college and home) Objective Education - certifications - scholarships (received for academic excellence) - awards / honors (relevant to position) Relevant Curriculum (best to use only if it is a short list revealing an emphasis). Use table feature to create structure in your resume such as two columns (just eliminate the borders when you are done. 24
    25. 25. Objectives should . . . Reflect the employers perspective. Tell what you can contribute. Demonstrate your value to the employer. Be as concise as possible. 25
    26. 26. Weak objective statements:not focused on employer but on writer Position in civil engineering that will provide me with opportunities for professional advancement. To obtain experience in the field of engineering before opening my own business. 26
    27. 27. Examples of objective statements.Example 1: To obtain a position in the support areas of manufacturing with emphasis on material or quality controlExample 2: Internship in Chemical Dependency Treatment Unit working with individuals, families, and groups 27
    28. 28. Effective objectives continued… To apply my engineering education and technical skills to produce quality products Seeking a position as a software engineering or application developer Objective statements are not absolutely necessary, so leave them out if they take up too much space on a resume. 28
    29. 29. Resume body  Use keywords or phrases to focus reader’s attention and to organize for emphasis.  After keywords, describe skills and/or projects with specific detail – use phrases rather than complete sentences.  See my resume help sheets for how to do this.29
    30. 30. Additional Sections Memberships Awards and Honors (move after skills section if the list is long and doesn’t fit well in heading area) Activities (some writers combine with memberships as in Activities and Memberships) 30
    31. 31. Length of Resume Average is two pages. Research shows employers often prefer two page resumes – even when they claim otherwise. Avoid crowding on a single page or “padding” resume. 31
    32. 32. Writing a targeted resume. Analyze position description to identify skill categories Create a list of skills (what the employer wants) Organize in order of importance (to the employer) Analyze your skills (what matches or closely matches?) Write concise, detailed descriptions of these skills 32
    33. 33. Describing Skills and Experience Choose active verbs and keywords (see help sheets). Use short phrases (fragments). Provide supporting evidence through detail. Be concise and specific. Use parallel construction in headings and phrasing. 33
    34. 34. Review Strategy Do your descriptions answer at least three of the following?  What?  Where?  How?  Why? 34
    35. 35. Remember Organize the body of your resume to emphasize qualifications that match employer needs. If you have paid experience that matches (or closely matches) employer needs, consider composing a combination resume that emphasizes employment and course projects. If all of your employment experience is unrelated to employer needs, emphasize course work (i.e. projects) etc. Include a one line list of non- employment in chronological form (without descriptions of duties) for all paid experience that is unrelated to employer needs. See examples of resumes and my notes about these in bblearn. 35
    36. 36. Parallel Construction Use consistent grammatical structure Headings are not parallel: Computer Skills Analyzing Research Management Experience Headings that are parallel: Computer Research and Analysis Management 36
    37. 37. Review descriptions for this problemNot parallel: Responsibilities included: recruitment of volunteers; coordinating fund-raising; and distributed promotional materials.Parallel: Responsibilities included: recruiting volunteers; coordinating fund-raising activities, and distributing promotional materials. 37
    38. 38. References Include if you have room. Between three and five references is a reasonable choice. Choose a range of people. Make certain they know you have listed them as a reference. If no room, just write “references available upon request” at the bottom of the resume. 38