engl402: project 3

Project 3: Job Application Packet

Worth 300 points
Draft #1 due 6/3
Final Draft due 6/6

Purpose & Description:
Many people obtain jobs through a multi-stage process.  First, you research the types of jobs 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.  These days, most employers have too many applicants per job to interview each one personally.  These employers sort through job application packages (resumes and cover letters) to decide which applicants to consider further.  So 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 choose two specific job or internship listings from a website, newspaper or professional journal (note: you will turn these in with your final draft of the job application package), and respond to each job ad with the following items:

  1. A resume (one for each job). The choices of content and layout for each resume should emphasize appropriate experience for each job.
  2. A cover letter (one for each job) addressed to the prospective employer and tailored for the specific job.  The letters should highlight different aspects of your experience relevant to the different positions. 
  3. A cover memo (one for each job) addressed to me, which overviews the position, reviews what you know about these particular employers, and describes the strategies and tactics you have used to adapt your letter and resume to each situation.  I expect you to make good use of the information in this memo in the arguments you present in your cover letters to the employers. 

Detailed Directions:


The purpose of the resume is to describe your qualifications for a specific type of job.

Content: Your resume should include contact information and relevant details of your educational training, professional training, special accomplishments, and skills. A resume is not a life history.  The goal is to argue that you are qualified for a particular type of job and that you would be a capable, responsible, employee who communicates effectively.

Format: Your format may be traditional or innovative as long as the information in highly accessible and is organized in a way that highlights the most important items (from the employer's perspective). We will be looking at various formats in class. Resumes should generally be no longer than a page.

Style: Your style should be fairly formal. Complete sentences aren’t necessary, but you should use a concise, active style.


Purpose: While your resume is addressed to any employer with a certain type of job opening, the cover letter is most effective when tailored to a particular employer. The purpose of the cover letter is to persuade the employer to grant you an interview. Just as you appreciate being treated as an individual rather than as a statistic, so does an employer. Are you applying hit-or-miss to every company in the country? Or have you invested some effort into finding a company for which you are well suited?

Content and organization: The opening of your letter should establish why you are writing to your reader. Be explicit about the fact that you are looking for a particular kind of job and explain why you would like a job at that particular company. Preview the body of the letter by stating your major qualifications for the job. The body of the letter develops each qualification with specific evidence. The goal is to show the reader both that you know what the specific company needs and that you have what it takes. You may organize this section in various ways: around your training and experience, around what the job or company requires, or some other way. The letter should close by inviting a response.

Style: These letters are difficult to write because they aim at somewhat conflicting goals. On one hand, you want to make a good first impression, so you want to sound polite and fairly formal. On the other hand, you want to stand out from the crowd—otherwise, why should the employer hire you over any of the other applicants?  The best policy is to talk to your reader as directly and naturally as possible, avoiding hyperbolic or boastful language.

Format: Use conventional business letter format. Be brief—cover letters should also be no longer than one page.


Write TWO memos (1-2 pages single-spaced, in standard memo format) addressed to me that will help me to read, understand, evaluate, and “coach” your resumes and letters.  Each memo must contain a job description and audience analysis, as well as a commentary highlighting how you adapted your resumes and cover letters to different jobs. The memo must contain the following sections:

  • ·Job description: What kinds of qualifications do you think that you need for each job? What kinds of personal qualities? You may base your job analysis on job listings that you find in a professional or trade journal, job search website or other resources at the Career Services Office at 180 Lighty <http://www.careers.wsu.edu/>.  The jobs should be different enough that you will have to emphasize different parts of your experience to qualify for the positions.
  • ·Audience analysis: Research the particular companies to which you are applying, using the library, Career Services Office and the Internet as resources.  You may also contact the personnel office of the company directly.  Look especially for clues about the company’s corporate culture (for example, the Wal-Mart corporation’s use of employees in its advertising circulars to create a “family” image of the company.).  Then write one or two paragraphs detailing any special qualities or experience that this company may be looking for in its employees. For example, suppose you are applying for a job as a technical writer.  A small company may be looking for a writer who can work on a variety of desktop publishing projects, while another may be looking specifically for someone with experience in drafting software manuals. Note: I expect you to make extensive use of this information in your cover letter. It should also have a big impact on the organization and choice of details in your resume.
  • ·Rhetorical Analysis: Describe how you adapted each resume and cover letter for the job, company, and reader and explain why you made those changes. Normally, your reasons will be closely related to the information in the job description and audience analysis. Explain what each document focused on, and precisely how that focus was achieved.

This assignment is worth 30% of your grade (300 points), and you will be graded on the three components of the assignment.

  1. Resumes (50 pts each): You will be graded on appropriateness of form and content.*
  2. Cover letters (50 pts each): You will be graded on how well you illustrate that you know, and are a good fit for, the company. I’m also looking to see that you sell yourself effectively. Finally, you will be graded on correctness of form and content.*
  3. Memos (50 pts each):  You will be graded on how well you address the three areas required above (job descriptions, audience analysis, and rhetorical analysis).


Employers impose a strict standard of correctness on application materials; errors are the equivalent of a coffee stain on your shirt. Accordingly, I will mark this assignment on a stricter scale than usual: I reserve the right to dock you one full letter grade for each typographical or grammatical
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