05 February 2015

05 FEB 2014

During the second half of our Friday session and all of our Monday session, we will peer-review our cover letters. Please adhere to the following process when so doing:


During today's class session, we will workshop our cover letters. As with our resume workshop, this will be a multi-step process.

First, pair up with one of your fellow students. Do not pair up with someone who reviewed your resume; I would like everyone to interact with (and get as many opinions from) as many students as possible during the course of the semester.

After you've selected a partner, exchange the job posting to which you're "applying." Read each others posting, then comment, in detail, on elements or characteristics that you think would be beneficial to mention in a cover letter. Be thorough and honest about your assessment.

Once you've commented on the job posting, look over your peer's resume (since we're turning in hard-copies today, everyone should have one). What aspects of your peer's profile stand out to you? What parts of the resume, to your mind, should be highlighted, re-worded, or expanded upon? Moreover, given the job ad you just finished reading and commenting on, how could a cover letter function as a bridge between the posting and the resume? Likewise, if something is missing or problematic (with regard to the posting and resume's relationship), how could a cover letter address these issues. Again, be detailed and specific in your response.

Once you've commented on both the job ad and the resume, read your peer's cover letter straight through without commenting. After you've read it, what are your initial impressions of the document? Write them out in a detailed and thorough manner.

After documenting your initial impressions of the cover letter, I want you to answer the following questions as they relate to your peer's document. Remember your partner will need to revise his/her cover letter based upon your feedback (and turn in your notes with their final draft), so be specific, expansive, constructive, and intelligible in your answers; also, be sure to write clearly.

Who is the audience for the cover letter? Is it a large company, a small private firm, an academic institution, or a nonprofit organization? What difference would it make and how would that be reflected in the cover letter? Does the cover letter you're reading attend to this consideration of audience properly? How could your peer better address their audience? Has the writer "translated" their discourse jargon and responsibilities into a idiom that the audience will comprehend? If so, how could they do this better; if not, make detailed suggestions on improving this aspect of the letter.

Does does your partner clearly and concisely state their objective? If so, how; if not, how could they do so in a clear and concise manner? Even if they have, offer a suggestion for how they could state their objective better.

Based upon your understanding of the job posting (and a company's interests, generally speaking), what do you think the objectives (there will be more than one) of the company would be? How are your partners objectives similar and different? How can those similarities be more clearly highlighted; likewise, how can those differences be better explained or masked?

Does your partner's cover letter clearly address the benefits they would provide to the company or organization? How so? Offer alternative suggestions for how he/she could do so in a better or more persuasive manner. If they haven't mentioned the benefits of their potential hiring, use their resume and the job posting to create some options for them.

What specific evidence does your partner provide to demonstrate their potential benefit to the company? How can this evidence be re-formatted to improve the letter? If they haven't, again, use their resume and the job posting to make some suggestions.

Generally speaking, does the cover letter accomplish the following tasks: Show the employer he/she has tailored the letter to the company and to the job they want? Explain his/her experiences in a clear, story-like format that works with the information in your resume? Explain in detail his/her experiences and skills that relate to the job you want? Explain in detail how his/her experiences and skills will help the employer and fulfill the job requirement? Provide an example of his/her communication skills?

Does the cover letter, at some point, develop a personal connection between the writer and the company, organization, or institution to which they're applying? How so? Is it appropriate, given the position for which he/she is applying? If not, how can that portion of the cover letter be altered? If they haven't, provide a series of suggestions that might work within the context of the cover letter.

Does the cover letter contain all of the following sections, and are the properly formatted: heading, introduction, argument/body paragraphs  (two paragraphs, in this section, is usually considered appropriate), and closing. For a list of elements that each of these section should contain, please visit  the following page at Purdue's OWL and scroll down to the bottom of the page.