Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Research and Writing Assignment

Honors English 298
Washington State University
Delahoyde — Fall 2014

Job Letter and Résumé

This required assignment — job letter and résumé — will comprise two pages of business writing that you also will be able to use as master copies of updatable documents for your own future career prospects.



Employers often need to sift through hundreds of application letters per position. These days, the piles are especially high. Therefore they initially will very likely skim your application, setting aside the application packets of those few candiates for the position who immediately look dynamic. It’s easy to be considered dead meat right from the start unless you take care with your application materials.

The job letter (or cover letter) should be printed on the same kind and color paper as your résumé. The letter precedes the résumé and should not be stapled to it.

******************************************************** Date.
Name. If the job announcement doesn’t list it exactly, find out to whom this should be addressed by calling the company; the reference desk at the library can help for corporation phone numbers. Invest the time on this to show you have initiative (that you’re “proactive”) which promises to apply to the job too. Get the person’s name spelled correctly; nothing annoys people more than this.
Company and Address. Don’t use abbreviations (St., Bldg., Blvd., WA); don’t take shortcuts — they make you look lazy, too casual, or hasty.
Re:Job title and position number (not just “secretary position”; there may be 500 at a time in large corporations.

Dear Dr. Mr. Ms. If you don’t know the sex of the recipient, provide the title and the last name. “To Whom It May Concern” should be used only as a last-ditch and lamentable option.

1) Your purpose for writing. Identify the job and the source of the announcement: “I read with interest your advertisement for ____ in the October 18th Lewiston Tribune. Please consider this letter of application….

2) Describe yourself professionally: your qualifications, experience, qualities relevant to the job. Don’t overpower. (And no more than one page.)

3) Why do you want to work for this company? Indicate that you’ve researched (annual report, grad degree programs, sales statistics), and are not just blindly applying to generic jobs (“My husband’s in jail and I have to take care of my sister’s perpetually diseased kids while she’s in rehab. I had to sell my car to raise bail for Duane my youngest.” No! High risk: sickness, etc.).

Last) Assert your willingness to do what it takes to complete the application process successfully, your willingness to travel if appropriate and/or interview by phone. “Thank you for consideration.”

Cordially (formal but a touch archaic), or Sincerely, or Yours truly,

Leave 4 or 5 spaces for your signature.

Your name typed whole as signed (you are the least to assume familiarity).
Phone day and evening

Include no photos! What kind of job are you really applying for if someone is wondering how you look?



First, find a job listing (or advertisement for employment) in any newspaper, on any bulletin board, in any professional publications, or from any job service center. Select an opening that relates to your own field of interest, or pick a bizarre job of some sort (e.g., executioner, mosquito control officer, dean of arts and sciences at a major university). Clip or copy this ad, as you will need to turn this in with your letter and résumé.

Next, acquaint yourself with résumé content and formatting. We’ll discuss this in class. [See also Hacker’s handbook, A Writer’s Reference, pages 57-58, or the relevant section from any style handbook. Also available are relevant documents in our class’s “Biz-Writing” folder on Angel.]

Your job letter will serve to highlight in clear prose the key components of your résumé, tailored to the job for which you are applying. Without sounding too cheesy or desperate, you want to promote yourself, and to do so realistically — not in a self-denegrating fashion (“I know a big company like you would think twice before giving someone like me a job but I really really want …”) nor too obnoxious by overselling yourself (“There’s no job that I can’t handle. I am what you’ve been looking for. If I were you I’d be crazy not to hire me”). Instead, you want to give an honest appraisal of why you are a good candidate for the position. You are asking for the opportunity to offer the company or organization your special skills and experience.


Due Date: Wednesday, 22 October 2014 — 10:10 am.