Most people obtain positions through a multistage process. First you research the types of positions you are qualified for and the types of employers you would like to work for. Then you try to convince specific employers to consider you for a job. Currently, most employers have too many applications per job to interview each applicant personally. These employers sort through résumés and cover letters to decide which applicants to consider further. Your first communication with your future employer is likely to be in writing and must persuade him or her to continue the conversation.
For this assignment you will write:
- Two résumés and two cover letters addressed to different prospective employers for two separate positions. The documents should highlight different aspects of your experience relevant to each position.
- An overview addressed to me that gives an overview of the two positions, reviews what you know about these particular employers, and describes how you have adapted your letter and résumé to each situation. I expect to see this information reflected in the issues you present in your résumés and cover letters to the employers. The purpose of this overview is to make it easy for me to understand the decisions about audience and purpose that you have made in your résumé/cover letter packet.
Additional Information about the Résumés
The résumé should describe your qualifications for a specific type of position. You will create two different résumés for this assignment, each addressing a specific position. The résumés may overlap in content somewhat, but should differ in order of presentation, content, and emphasis.
Your résumé should include contact information and relevant details about your education, professional training, special accomplishments, and skills. A résumé is not a life history, but rather an argument that you are qualified for a particular position and that you would be a capable, responsible employee who communicates effectively.
Your format may be traditional or innovative, as long as the information is highly accessible and highlights the most important items from the employer’s perspective. Limit the length to one, or at the most, two pages.
Your style should be fairly formal. You need not use complete sentences, but you should use active voice and pay particular attention to parallel structure.
Additional Information about the Cover Letters
While your résumé is addressed to any employer with a certain type of job opening, the cover letter is most effective when it is tailored to a particular employer. The purpose of the cover letter is to persuade that employer to grant you an interview. Tailor your choice of details and explanations to the employer’s values and interests.
Content and Organization
The opening of your letter should establish who you are, what position you are applying for, how you learned of this position, and why you would like to work for that particular company. Your goal is to show the reader both that you know what the specific company needs and that you have the qualifications.
Preview the body of the letter by stating your major qualifications for the position. Make sure that this qualification statement is specific and unique. Everyone will likely have the education and experience to make him or her an appropriate candidate; what do you, individually, have to offer? The body of the letter develops each qualification with specific, illustrative evidence. You may organize this section in various ways: around your training and experience or around what a position or the company requires. The letter should close by inviting a response and making it easy to arrange an interview.
While cover letters should be polite and fairly formal, you also want them to sound individualized and reflect your personality. Otherwise, how will your application stand out from the others? Why should you be chosen over everyone else? The best policy is to talk to your reader as directly and naturally as possible, avoiding bombastic, hyper-elevated vocabulary.
Use conventional business letter format. Try to keep the length of your letter to one page. Employers impose a strict standard of correctness on application letters and résumés. I will do the same.
Additional Information about the Overview
Write a brief overview, no less than two and no more than three pages, addressed to me. Describe each position you are applying for and analyze the two audiences that you have chosen. Include a rhetorical analysis highlighting how you specifically adapted your résumés and cover letters to the different positions. Since writing the memo will help you in designing the résumés and cover letters, you may want to work on it first. But you should review it carefully after you have completed the other documents to be certain that it reflects your rhetorical decisions.
You may want to base your job descriptions on listings that you find in professional or trade journals, in newspapers, on the Internet, or elsewhere. The positions should be different enough that you will have to emphasize different parts of your experience to qualify for the positions. You should specify any particular qualities or experience that the company may be looking for in candidates for the position. For example, a small company may be looking for an accountant who can work on a variety of projects, while another may be looking specifically for someone with experience in tax accounting. If you use language such as the mission statement of an organization in your description, make sure you cite it properly.
If you are not graduating at the end of this semester, with my permission you may develop one résumé/cover letter for an internship or scholarship. You may also, with my permission, develop one résumé/cover letter for graduate school, medical school, or law school. At least one of your audiences, however, must be within a business or public corporation or organization.
Investigate the particular companies to which you are applying. Information on many companies is available from the library, the net, and CDPS. You may also contact the personnel office of the company directly. Describe the company and its values: when was the company founded, where is it located, what does the organization do, how many employees does it have, what character traits does it look for in its workers?
This is also the place to describe anything you know about the particular person you are writing to. Is it someone who already knows you, or knows Wayne State? Is it someone without much knowledge of your or your educational background and work experience? I expect you to make extensive use of this information in the organization and choice of details in your résumé and cover letter.
Describe how you have adapted each résumé and cover letter for the particular position, company, and reader. Think about the various changes you made in content, arrangement, and style. Normally, your reasons will be closely related to the information in the job description and audience analysis.