Overview: Job Application Package

118. This is the average number of candidates who apply for a job, according to data from this recent article published in Forbes Magazine. Of those, roughly 20% land an interview, which means 80% of resumes end up in the trash bin. If you didn’t already know, the job application process can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, and your success is contingent upon thoughtful research and preparation of application materials. This project is designed to help you create a professionally designed job application package that will stand out from the crowd and help you land the interview. 

Note: If you aren’t currently looking for employment, you may be asking yourself, “What is the value of this assignment?” The short answer: plenty! You should always remain aware of the job market for your field, and you should regularly update your resume — you never know when you may need it. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to see what other, possibly better, opportunities are out there! 

Job Application Process

Applying for a job is a multi-stage process. First, you research the field. What types of jobs you are qualified for? What types of employers would you like to work for?

After finding the job announcement, your next task is to convince specific employers to consider you for a job. These days, most employers have too many applicants per job to interview each personally. Instead, they sort through job application packages (resumes and cover letters) to decide which applicants to consider further.

What this means is that your first communication with your future employer is likely to be in writing and must persuade him or her to continue the conversation.

ENG 110 Learning Outcomes Addressed 

  • Write effective memos
  • Write at least one application letter
  • Identify the principles of audience and purpose analysis
  • Construct a resume
  • Demonstrate effective visual page design in documents
  • Demonstrate ethical handling of data
  • Write documents using standard sentence structure, usage, and spelling

For this assignment, you will write:

Two cover letters addressed to different prospective employers and that apply for two different types of jobs. The letters should highlight different aspects of your experience relevant to the different jobs.

Two resumes that may differ significantly in content, in design, or both. The choices of content and layout should emphasize appropriate experience for each job.

A cover memo addressed to me that overviews the two jobs, 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.

You will also create a LinkedIn profile. Why? LinkedIn is a digital hub for employment and professional networking opportunities. Joining this community will enable you to connect with people working in your desired field or for the organization you would like to join — this insider information can give you a competitive edge over other applicants who don’t perform such careful investigation before applying.

For your LinkedIn profile, complete the following:

  • Write a concise profile summary.
  • Organize and publish your work experience.
  • Upload a profile photo.
  • Write a compelling, professional headline.

Note on privacy: If you have reservations about using LinkedIn because of privacy issues, please contact me directly so we can arrange an alternative approach to this part of the project.

Once you create your LinkedIn profile, find my profile and connect with me. You cannot receive credit for your work until you do so. Also, search LinkedIn to connect with colleagues, employers, friends, and family.

Then, research employees who work in the field (or for the company) you hope to one day join. Read their profiles. What do their profiles tell you about the types of experiences you will gain in this industry? Or the types of skills and knowledge you need to possess? Ask them questions! Connect with these LinkedIn members and start a conversation. Share the research you gather in our Blackboard discussion forum.

Writing the Cover Memo

Write a brief memo (no more than two pages, single-spaced) addressed to me that will help me read, understand, evaluate, and “coach” your resumes and cover letters. For each of the two jobs, the memo must contain a separate job description and audience analysis, as well as a commentary highlighting how you adapted your resumes and cover letters to the different jobs. Since the memo will be of use to you in designing the rest of your job application package, you probably should think about it early–even begin drafting it early. It’s not due until the end, and you may not finish drafting it until after you’ve written the other parts of the assignment. Either way, you should look over it carefully at the very end of the project to make sure that it tells me “how to read” your resumes and cover letters.

Job Description. Please copy and paste the job description directly from the job listing. The two jobs should be different enough that you will have to emphasize different parts of your experience to qualify for the positions. You must also include links to the job ads you use.

Audience Analysis. Investigate the particular companies you are applying to. You may obtain information on companies from their websites, from LinkedIn, from the library, or other places. You may also contact the personnel office of the company directly. Then write one or two paragraphs that specify 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 chemical engineer. A small company may be looking for an engineer who can work on a variety of projects, while another may be looking specifically for someone who has experience with polymers. This is also the place to describe anything you know about the particular person you are writing to. Note: I expect you to make extensive use of this information in your cover letter. It should also impact the way you choose to organize and develop your resume.

Rhetorical Analysis. Describe how you adapted each resume and cover letter for its particular type of job, company, and reader and why you made those changes. Normally, your reasons will be closely related to the information in the job description and audience analysis.

Writing the Resume

The purpose of the resume is to describe your qualifications for a type of job. Since this assignment requires you to apply for two somewhat different jobs, you should create two somewhat different resumes.

 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, and personable employee who communicates effectively.

Format. Your format may be traditional or innovative as long as it is appropriate and as long as the information is highly accessible and is organized in a way that highlights the most important items — from the employer’s perspective.

Style. Your style should be fairly formal. You need not use complete sentences, but you should use a concise, active style and show consistency in expression from section to section.

Writing the Cover Letter

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 that specific 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 that you are well suited for?

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 to work 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 that 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 the company requires, or some other way. The letter should close by inviting a response.

Style. Cover letters are difficult to write because they aim at somewhat conflicting goals. On the 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 rather than any of the other applicants? The best policy is probably to talk to your reader as directly and naturally as possible. Avoid hype.

Format. Use a conventional business letter format. Be brief: if possible, stick to one page.


Remember the statistic that 20% of application packages make it to the interview and 80% end up in the trash bin? Your goal is to be part of that 20%! Potential employers will be looking for the highest quality of document design, style, tone, content organization and development, and grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and this is reflected in our evaluation rubric. Most employers won’t consider a resume with more than a couple of spelling or punctuation errors, for example, so you will find in the rubric that more than 2 errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation receives a rating of “unacceptable.” Please review the rubric to better understand how your application materials will be evaluated and improve your chances of avoiding the trash bin!


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