7. PREPARING A WRITTEN APPLICATION FOR AN EMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW
The written application is the only source of information a potential employer has to decide if you should be invited to an interview. Applicants are short-listed and called for an interview because of the quality of their written application. Therefore, it is important to make it interesting, informative and persuasive. A job application has two parts:
The covering letter is the letter of transmittal for your resume. It aims to introduce your qualifications for the job to the employer and to persuade the employer to invite you to an interview.
A resume is the summary of your personal data including education, skills, qualifications, work experience, references, hobbies and interests. It is also referred to as a Curriculum Vitae or CV.
A ‘report’ as an attachment to a letter
Nutting and White (1991) state that it is a mistake to include more than one or two paragraphs of detailed information in the body of a business letter, yet often when you write a letter there is much more information you need to share with the reader. The best example of this is a ‘report’ about yourself, (your personal resume). A resume should never be included with a letter.
Other types of information that should be presented in similar attachments include facts and figures on a firm’s financial position, a statement presenting a series of problems, or complex technical data. Each is in effect a report in that it contains collected and collated information arranged according to type, so it makes sense to present it in a way that will make it clear and easy to follow.
Whether you are looking for a first job, a promotion or a change in career, the marketing approach is a sound basis for getting a job and the preparation for an effective resume. As with any marketing, you need to consider several things, such as:
Letters of Application
If your letter of application is well written and mentions abilities that the employer is looking for, he or she will then turn to your personal details (resume), which should be attached but separate from the letter. If the details in the resume confirm the positive first impression, your application will go into a pile of ten to twelve (the ‘short list’) from which people to be interviewed will be selected. It is also advisable to use the AIDA formula mentioned in Module 5 when compiling your letters, as this type is best suited for writing persuasive messages.
There are two types of letters that are written in applying for jobs:
Whether your letter is handwritten or is prepared on a wordprocessor, certain writing techniques should be observed:
Remember what the employer is looking for: quality, originality, personality, and skills. Finally, ensure you proof-read your letter correctly and check that you have used correct grammar and spelling. Always ask someone else to check the letter for you.
This letter will be more effective if it is addressed specifically to a Personnel Officer or Human Resource Manager and will have more impact if addressed to them personally. Obtain their name through a telephone call to the company.
Make the letter effective by:
The letter could be hand delivered and presented personally, giving the company representative a chance to see you in person and make an instant appraisal of you. If the letter is posted, follow up in a couple of days with a telephone call to ensure that the letter has been received and to reinforce your presence on the company.
Phone: 047 126108
264 Coral Point Road
Landsdown NSW 2276
Mrs P Davidson
Human Resources Manager
Jade’s Clothing Company
New England Highway
Rutherford NSW 2320
Dear Mrs Lawrence
I am currently undertaking a graphic arts course at the Hunter Institute of Technology and am excelling in the area of graphic design.
I understand that your company now has its own document design department. I would be extremely interested in working for your company if a position becomes available.
I pride myself on my innovativeness and initiative and set very high standards of excellence in any work I undertake. I have established definite short and long term career goals and my determinedness to achieve them should be an asset to any company which employs me.
I am attaching a resume which briefly profiles me and my career so far. I have my own transport and am available for an interview at any time. I will telephone you in a few days to discuss whether there is any likelihood of employment with your company.
Ms Rebecca Ryan
PLANNING your application letter
Have a clear purpose – explain why your name should be on the interview list rather than why you ought to be given a job.
Create interest in your application
Make your letter stand out from the crowd
Explain why you want the job
The OPENING PARAGRAPH
First impressions are important so try to write an opening that sounds different from competitors with their familiar openings: ‘I am writing to apply for’, ‘I wish to apply for’, ‘In reply to your advertisement for’.
Identify a common interest by talking about yourself and the reader together. Express a mutual interest or describe a common goal that unites you.
Give one good reason why… If you like the type of work, explain that this particular position has a special appeal for you.
Identify the actual advertisement – name the source and give the date it appeared.
The BODY OF THE APPLICATION LETTER
Summarise your skills, experience and abilities. It is better to be brief than to say too much; up to three-quarters of a page.
Explain what you can do rather than who you are – illustrate your understanding of the advertisements needs and show how you could be the very person to meet them.
Summarise studies, training and qualifications. Employers are attracted by the winner image. If you are a high achiever, if you enjoy hard work or like taking responsibility, say so.
Mention referees – name people who can be contacted, and who are prepared to verify what you say.
Avoid oversell – be careful! It is easy to sound ‘pushy’ or overconfident if you say ‘I am sure that after reading my letter you will agree that I am the right person’.
CLOSE ON A POSITIVE NOTE
Close on a positive note that confirms your confidence in yourself.
You could do this by:
Asking straight out when interviews will be held e.g. ‘Please would you contact me and advise when you will be conducting interviews? My phone number is 9223 0985.
Saying how you can be contacted if you prefer a less direct close e.g. ‘If you require further details, please contact me either at 23 Birrell Street, Bondi Junction or by telephone on 9324 5007. Could you also let me know when you will be holding interviews?’
Asking for more information e.g. ‘My home phone number is 9453 4563. Could you please advise me when I can call and see someone personally to find out more about the position?’
Always indicate your availability. As well as a postal address, always give a telephone number. After the closing ‘action’ paragraph, say ‘Yours faithfully’ or ‘Yours sincerely’ (either is now considered correct). Often ‘Yours faithfully’ is used when writing to a named position, such as, Marketing Manager or Personnel Officer, and ‘Yours sincerely’ when addressing a named person, such as, Mr Edward Johnstone. In the salutation you are then able to continue with – Dear Edward. Always sign a letter, and type or print your name clearly underneath.
7.1 Preparing a professional resume
With access to computers, successful resumes are now more than a simple typed document. They incorporate effective design skills, are able to be updated when circumstances change and are able to be adapted to suit the specific job being applied for.
If your resume is to receive favourable consideration it must first attract the attention of the person who will read through the applications. Write it in clear and concise language, use a lot of white space and make it fast and easy to read. Try to create your own little bit of individuality so that it will not look like every other CV submitted for consideration.
An effective resume or CV should:
The most common types of resumes are:
The basic or general resume – designed for general jobs in your trade or profession. It is also suited for those who have just left school or have little work experience. This type includes all the parts of a resume with appropriate headings. Figure 7.1.1 illustrates the layout and function of each part of a basic resume.
Figure 7.1.1 Layout and function of
each part of a basic resume (Dwyer, 1993, p. 453).
If you use the headings suggested above, it is easy to list your experience from your most recent to your earliest position and to describe your responsibilities and achievements in each position. Highlight your particular strengths with action words such as achieved, adapted, initiated, installed, prepared, reported or researched.
These action words add strength to your writing and indicate that you had the responsibility and were able to follow projects through to completion.
Layout and function of each
part of a specific resume (Dwyer, 1993, p.456).
Personal details – be brief. Give only those details the employer needs. State the date of your birth rather than your age. Do not include your marital status or family details, and give only highlights of your education and your highest qualifications.
Current employment – describe your present job first. Name the position and the firm. Say how long you have been in the job, the type of work you are doing and the location.
Previous full-time employment – give the actual title of each position held, the full name of each firm or employer, and the location. List your duties and/or responsibilities to give a better picture of your work experience. State the year and month each position started and ended. (The earlier the position, the lower it will be on the list and the less detail is needed).
Special activities associated with work – list special duties you have performed or any special project team or committee you have worked on. If you have been responsible for controlling, leading or supervising other staff, emphasise this even if it was only on a temporary basis.
Part-time experience – mention jobs held while at school or before obtaining your first full-time job.
Membership of professional or statutory bodies e.g. member of the Australian Institute of Management (AIM), trade associations.
Schooling – give only the briefest outline of your primary and early secondary subjects. But do list the names of schools or colleges, the years spent at each and the levels of education achieved.
Studies since leaving school – people who undertake regular part-time study when they are working are seen as being energetic and ready to take responsibility.
Other activities – list awards, scholarships or other outstanding achievements.
Sporting or recreational activities – mention prizes, trophies or competitions that you have won.
Travel – highlight work, study or business experience overseas or interstate.
Family background, health, travel restrictions, other constraints – if you have good health, say so. If the employer has read as far as this, he or she is probably interested in your family background and marital status and any conditions that may prevent you from doing some types of work or from travelling.
Other information – such as hobbies and interests and other personal development programs, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Your photograph – many successful applicants say that including a photograph helps to get interviews, as long as the picture is of high quality, clear, and shows you to good advantage.
Referees – give names, titles, positions (business), addresses and phone numbers. No more than two – unless explicitly specified.
How easy to read is your resume? – CHECKLIST
Can it be scanned rapidly?
Is it credible?
Is it well organised?
Personal history listing – must be complete and it must cover every year from the time you finished high school: gaps suggest the possibility of activities you do not want to talk about.
Details of specific subjects studied – in some cases it is worth adding a summary as an appendix to the resume for subject names that need more explanation (Nutting & White, 1991, pp. 241-249).
Sort through all your records and locate the educational awards you have received.
Trace your employment profile from your first job to your current employment.
Assemble any references and testimonials you have or arrange for current references to be provided from appropriate people.
Start a portfolio for storing newspaper clippings, articles from staff newsletters or any documentation which might add credence to your capabilities and assist you in the future in gaining any job you may want.
Write, design and typeset your personal resume, preferably on computer so that you may update it when circumstances change, or adapt it to suit a specific job application. Check the different types of resume formats found on the wizard template on your computer.
Compile a portfolio containing awards, references, testimonials and, if applicable, samples of work you have done relevant to your trade or profession which you could take to an interview as evidence supporting your suitability for a job.
Compare your documentation with that of others in your group and ask business acquaintances to evaluate your presentation and give you feedback on its suitability.
Arrange to have a professional studio photograph taken which you could incorporate into your resume. This is optional as it is recommended purely as personal choice.
8. RESEARCH SKILLS
Dwyer (1993) suggests that an awareness of the need for motivation and an ability to organise your own activities is important. Appropriate motivation, suitably structured research and study periods, effective management of time, and ideally, the creation of a comfortable study environment will improve the result of your research and learning efforts.
Thinking is viewed as an abstract activity, with the process unable to be seen. It gives the ability to recall, comprehend and apply information, and then to use the three higher level thinking processes:
To be able to move through each of these levels of thinking activities, you must be able to listen, record, research, read and write in a purposeful way to achieve your goals.
Sources of information
Researchers talk in general terms about primary and secondary sources of information. Primary sources of information are the people or organisations that take the action or cause the events that become part of society’s store of information. Secondary sources of information are published and stored after the event has taken place. In other words, primary information is not yet available and needs to be obtained and collected and secondary information already exists and is available.
Many primary sources of information are available. Some of these are as follows:
Secondary sources of information
Libraries collect and store information on many different areas of interest. Their special area of expertise in collecting and storing information in a form that can easily be found, make them an invaluable source of secondary information. Additional library services available to library members, and the public include:
The media also produces information in newspapers, magazines, television, radio and film. Although, read the media critically and separate and identify the facts from opinions.
Careful, focused research will make more efficient use of your time by enabling you to locate relevant research material appropriate to your project. When gathering information from the range of sources indicated, make sure you record in your notes full details of the source of your information.
You will need these details when you present your essay, project or report. You should always reference source material and acknowledge the author or speaker.
When you write reports, assignments and business documents with information you have obtained from either primary or secondary sources, you must acknowledge your source by using notations. They can be inserted in three different places in the document:
Bibliographies or list of references
A list of references gives details only of those works cited in your report or essay. A bibliography gives details of works cited in the text as well as other relevant material you read when writing the report. These may include:
Arrange your list of references or bibliography in alphabetical order by authors’ surnames rather than by title. Reference accurately and consistently. There are two main methods of presenting a list of references or a bibliography:
Check the method of notation and documentation preferred by your instructor, employer or organisation. For this subject, students are required to utilise the following method:
The Author-Date System (HARVARD method)
EFFECTIVE NOTES SUMMARISE IDEAS
AND HELP YOUR MEMORY
An effective set of notes is an important learning tool. A good set of notes summarises what has been written or said. It is also a memory aid. As you revise and edit the notes, ask yourself what did the speaker or author want the audience to know, understand, be aware of, or be able to do.
Once you decide the answer, highlight the main points and inter-relationships. Then ask yourself what should I be able to do or reproduce as a result of the talk, writing or research, and what immediate steps do I need to complete to be able to do the task?
A well-planned lecture, talk or audiovisual, and a well-planned piece of written material will be clear, concise and logically ordered. Either will enable you to create a set of useful notes.
Useful notes have a structure that identifies the introduction, an outline of the main points in the body of the lecture or written material presented in an orderly sequence of numbered headings made up of key words and phrases, followed by subheadings that indicate the supporting details.
Steps in note-taking (oral sources) and note-making (written sources)
Features of an effective set of notes
Your notes need to be purposeful and formatted in a consistent manner. Notes filed for future reference must use simple techniques like a clear tittle that identifies the topic, a reference to identify and acknowledge the source. These elementary techniques make it easy to retrieve and use the information:
Figure 8.1Creating a set of notes
Source: Dwyer, 1993, pp. 170-173.