Chapter 9: Job Search, Résumés and Covers Letters

Jordan Smith

Chapter Learning Objectives

  1. Represent skills, knowledge, and experience realistically for employment purposes.
  2. Identify and assess individual skills, strengths, and experiences to identify career and professional development goals.
  3. Research the job market to identify career opportunities and requirements.
  4. Prepare a targeted and persuasive cover letter and resume.

If you devote a portion of your life to training for a career, nothing is more important at the end of that program than getting a job where you can apply your training. The job application process poses a challenge that requires a skill set quite different from that which your core program courses teach you, yet you cannot get a job without it. In most professions, the competition for jobs is so fierce that only your communication A-game can help you through the communication test that is the hiring process.

A hiring competition involves a written and oral exam. You must pass the written component (the cover letter and résumé) before you move on to the oral (the interview), and you must out-perform the competition in the oral to get the job. The oral component proves that you can carry a conversation, represent the company in face-to-face interactions with customers, and see eye-to-eye with managers and co-workers while conducting day-to-day operations in a personable manner. Representing you in your physical absence, your cover letter and résumé mainly assure employers that you have the experience and skills required to be successful in the job. They also prove whether you are literate and conscientious enough to represent the company respectability when writing on their behalf to customers and other stakeholders.

This chapter focuses on the written component of the hiring process, saving the oral for §10.3 below. We begin with the research component that informs how you will write those pieces. At this point it’s worth saying that the advice given here represents a fairly broad consensus of employer expectations, but it can’t apply to all because each employer is unique in what they’re seeking from applicants. It’s like dating: everyone has a unique laundry list of preferences formed by genes and experience narrowing down who they’re attracted to. If someone falls within the range of what you’re looking for and you fall within their range, then it might work out. The only way to know for sure that you’re both what the other is looking for is by flirting, which means, in the world of job hunting, networking. After examining strategies for job hunting, we’ll cover the résumé and cover letter-writing process with the goal of producing job application materials that will considerably increase your chances of getting an interview.


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