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Writing for The Job Search

Most experts say students should start preparing for the job search at the beginning of their senior year. While this may seem very early, a year will give you plenty of time to research companies, to prepare a solid resume, to adapt your application letter for specific companies, and to request references.


A resume is a factual representation of your knowledge, skills, and experiences. Essentially, it is your chance to show your employer what you can do, but you do not have much time to make your case. John L. Munschauer, former Director of the Cornell University Career Center, says that the average employer spends, on the first read, 20 seconds skimming a resume. To think carefully about how to design and present your information so that readers can find it easily, see Princeton's Resume Guide and these articles from the Purdue OWL.

Application Letters

If a resume is a summary of your skills, an application letter shows how those skills make you a successful candidate for a particular position. Steven Graber, former managing editor of the JobBank series and the Adams Almanac series, compares them to advertisements: "Like effective advertisements, effective cover letter attract an employer's attention by highlighting the most attractive features of the product" (qtd. in Harty 294). Doing this requires researching the company carefully and deciding ways to show how your skills, knowledge, and experience can benefit that company.


If your employer considers your resume and application letter a good fit for the position, they will ask you for an interview. The work you completed to research the company and determine how you would fit into it will help you decide what to emphasize during the interview, though you should also consider the kind of impression you will make through your appearance and attitude.

Other useful resources

These resources combine two or more of the topics listed above.

Letters and Reports

The model texts below come from the Purdue OWL.

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