Chapter 21: Writing Job-Search Documents



Writing Job-Search Documents

If the thought of creating a résumé gets your heart pounding, you aren’t alone. Résumés make people nervous because so much is riding on them: A well-written résumé can mean a job, and a poorly written one can mean a missed opportunity. And where there’s a résumé, there’s a cover letter. It, too, can be daunting in its own way.

This chapter takes the guesswork out of writing résumés, cover letters, and other documents that will help you with your job search. Follow the guidelines for each form to create documents that make you stand out from the crowd.

In this chapter


Guidelines Writing Application Letters

Your goal is to convince the reader to study your résumé and invite you for an interview.

  1. Plan: (Ideas and Organization)

    • What does the employer or company do?

    • Which of your skills, academic degrees, or work experiences match the job requirements?

    Think about your reader.

    • Find the name, title, and address of the person you are writing to.

    • Review the job description and your résumé.

  2. Draft: (Ideas, Organization, and Voice)

      Opening Use a courteous but confident voice.

      • Refer to the job and tell how you learned about it.

      • State your main qualification.

      Middle Show that you’re qualified.

      • Tell how your education, experience, and skills fit the job. (Refer to your résumé.)

      • Communicate your interest in and knowledge of the job and the company.

      Closing Close by encouraging contact.

      • Explain when and where you may be reached.

      • Request an interview.

  3. Revise: (Ideas, Organization, Voice, Words, and Sentences)

    • Have you explained why you can do the job well?

    • Have you delivered your message in clear, well-organized paragraphs?

    • Have you used a courteous, confident, businesslike tone?

  4. Edit: (Conventions and Design)

    • Did you double-check names, titles, and addresses?

    • Did you run a spell check, and then read carefully for additional spelling and usage errors?

    • Did you print your letter on quality paper that matches the résumé?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”



Writing Application Letters

3041 45th Avenue

Lake City, WA 98125-3722

November 18, 2019


Ms. Marla Tamor

Human Resources Director

Evergreen Medical Center

812 University Street

Seattle, WA 98105-6152


Dear Ms. Tamor:


Opening: Name the job and the source of the ad. Introduce your qualifications. In response to your advertisement in the Seattle Times on November 12, I am writing to apply for the position of Software-Training Specialist. For the past seven years, I have worked as a trainer in the health-care system at Pacific Way Hospital.


Middle: List specific training, experience, and skills. I have instructed individuals and groups on how to use the following systems/software: Microsoft Office, G Suite, and OpenOffice, as well as mainframe/business-specific programs. I am also trained to instruct clients in Photoshop, InDesign, and multiple CAD programs.


In addition to my work with software systems, I have developed job descriptions, recruited technical employees, and trained human-resources personnel. I believe this experience would help me address the needs of a growing health-care facility such as Evergreen Medical Center.


Closing: Invite follow-up, provide contact information, and close politely. Enclosed is my résumé, which further details my qualifications. I look forward to hearing from you and can be reached at (206) 555-0242 or at Thank you for your consideration.



Signature Jamie Vertz

Jamie Vertz



Writing Post-Interview Thank-You Letters

442 Mesquite Drive

El Paso, TX 79903

August 20, 2019


Julia Villanueva

Human Resources Manager

Del Rio Hospital

4305 Westlake Avenue

El Paso, TX 79902


Opening: Thank the reader for the opportunity to interview. Dear Ms. Villanueva:


Thank you for the interview yesterday. I enjoyed meeting you and the obstetric nurses at Del Rio Hospital.


Middle: Confirm interest in the position and show you would be a good fit. I would enjoy contributing to the important work that you and other staff members do in this community. After touring your impressive obstetrics unit, I’m convinced that my recently completed internship at the neonatal unit of El Paso General would make me an asset to your team.


Closing: Restate thanks and provide an opportunity for follow-up. I appreciate being considered for the position of registered nurse. If you have further questions, I am available at 555-9667 from 8:00 to 10:00 weekday mornings, or you may leave a message anytime after that.


Yours sincerely,

Signature Jack Delaney

Jack Delaney


Writing Job-Acceptance Letters

Dear Ms. Villanueva:


Opening: Graciously accept the job that has been offered. I am pleased to accept the position of registered nurse in the obstetrics unit of Del Rio Hospital, at the salary of $68,500.


Middle: Clarify any remaining details. As we discussed on the phone, a starting date of March 17 works well for me. Before then, I will complete the forms you sent and return them. I will also forward my Associate Degree in Nursing certification next week after Lone Star Technical College processes it.


Closing: Look to a bright future of work. I’m looking forward to caring for the patients of Del Rio.


Yours sincerely,

Signature Jack Delarey

Jack Delaney

Writing Job-Declining Letters

Dear Ms. Villanueva:


Opening: Politely decline the job that has been offered. Thank you for offering me the registered nurse position at Del Rio Hospital. After carefully considering my options, however, I regret that I must decline the offer.


Middle: Provide a general reason for declining the job. While Del Rio’s obstetrics unit presents a challenging and exciting work opportunity, I have decided to accept a position that better suits my particular career goals.


Closing: Thank the reader and end politely. I was honored by this job offer and greatly appreciate your kind attention throughout the interview process. I know that through people like you, Del Rio will continue to make a valuable contribution to the community it serves.


Best regards,

Signature Jack Delarey

Jack Delaney


Guidelines Writing Résumés

Your goal is to show that your skills, knowledge, and experience match the requirements for a specific job.

  1. Plan: (Ideas and Organization)

    • Show that your skills and experience match the job requirements.

    • Choose the style of résumé that best highlights your qualifications (chronological features experience; functional features skills).

    • Choose the format (paper or electronic) that the employer prefers.

    Gather details about the following:

    • your career objective, worded to match the job description. (Alternative: Replace the objective with a personal brand statement.)

    • your educational experiences (schools, degrees, certification).

    • your work experiences (employers and dates; responsibilities, skills, and titles; special projects, leadership roles, and awards).

    • activities and interests directly or indirectly related to the job.

    • responsible people who are willing to recommend you.

  2. Draft: (Ideas, Organization, and Voice)

    Opening List your contact information and job objective.

    Middle Write appropriate headings, and list educational and work experiences in parallel phrases or clauses. Refer to your training and skills with key words that match the job description (terms that could be identified by an employer’s search).

    Closing List names, job titles, and contact information for your references; or state that references are available upon request.

  3. Revise: (Ideas, Organization, Voice, Words, and Sentences)

    • Are skills, training, and key words listed in the job description?

    • Do you have clear organization, correct details, and a professional tone?

    • Do you use strong verbs, precise nouns, and parallel phrases?

  4. Edit: (Conventions and Design)

    • Have you checked names, dates, grammar, and punctuation?

    • Have you checked format (divisions, headings, lists, spacing)?

“A résumé is a balance sheet with no liabilities.”

—Robert Half


Writing Chronological Résumés

Opening: Present contact information. LLOYD A. CLARK

1913 Linden Street

Charlotte, NC 28205-5611

(704) 555-2422


State your employment objective. Law enforcement position that calls for technical skills, military experience, self-discipline, reliability, and people skills.

Middle: List experiences, skills, and training. WORK EXPERIENCE

Positions held in the United States Marine Corps:

  • Guard Supervisor—Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, 2014-2018: Scheduled and supervised 24 guards.

  • Use periods after clauses—including those with understood subjects. Marksmanship Instructor—Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, 2013-2014: Trained personnel in small-arms marksmanship techniques.

  • Company Clerk—Okinawa, Japan, 2011-2013: Handled correspondence; prepared training schedules and assignments.

Do not use periods after headings or phrases. SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

  • In-depth knowledge of laws and regulations concerning apprehension, search and seizure, rules of evidence, and use of deadly force

  • Knowledge of security-management principles, training methods, and countermeasures

  • Experience in physical-training management, marksmanship, and weaponry

  • Keep all phrases and clauses parallel. Computer word-processing and database skills

  • Excellent one-on-one skills and communication abilities


  • Arrest, Apprehension, and Riot Control Course, Sasebo, Japan, 2013

  • Marksmanship Instructor Course, Okinawa, Japan, 2012

  • Sexual-Harassment Sensitivity Training, Camp Lejeune, NC, 2011

  • School of Infantry, Camp Pendleton, CA, 2011


  • List awards and honors in order of importance. Promoted meritoriously from Private (E-1) to Lance Corporal (E-3); promoted meritoriously to final rank of Corporal (E-4) in less than 2 years.

  • Achieved “Expert” rating for pistol at annual marksmanship qualifications (3 years).

  • Represented Marine Barracks, Japan, in division shooting matches (placed in top half).

Closing: Offer references. References available upon request


Writing Functional Résumés

Opening: Present contact information and your employment objective. MICHELLE MOORE

3448 Skyway Drive

Missoula, MT 59801-2883

(406) 555-2166



Electrical Engineer—designing or developing digital and/or microprocessor systems.


Middle: Feature skills by referring to educational and work experiences. Design

  • Wrote two “C” programs to increase production-lab efficiency.

  • Built, tested, and modified prototypes in digital and analog circuit design.

  • Designed and worked with CMOS components.

  • Wrote code for specific set of requirements.

  • Helped implement circuitry and hardware for a “bed-of-nails” test.

Put the most important skills first. Troubleshooting and Repair

  • Repaired circuit boards of peripheral computer products.

  • Helped maintain equipment using circuit-board testing.

  • Improved product quality by correcting recurring problems.

  • Debugged 8085 Microprocessor Trainer Kits.

Use periods after clauses—including those with understood subjects—but not after phrases. Management

  • Trained and supervised production technicians.

  • Facilitated smooth operation of production lab.

  • Assisted in lab teaching for Microprocessors and Digital Circuits class.


Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering, 2017

  • Major: Electrical Engineering

  • Independent Study: C programming, DOS and BIOS interrupts


October 2017 to present

Production Engineer (full-time) Big Sky Computer Products, Inc., Missoula, MT

June 2017 to September 2017

Engineer (part-time) Western Labs, Missoula, MT

September 2016 to May 2017

Engineering Assistant Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

May 2015 to September 2016

Engineering Intern Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

Closing: Offer references. References available upon request


Choosing a Résumé Format

As you consider which type of résumé to create, remember that . . .

  • chronological résumés highlight work history.

  • functional résumés emphasize job skills.

Follow your path through this flowchart to discover which type of résumé would work best for you.

Choosing a Resume Format Flow Chart

Preparing E-Résumés

Whether you create a chronological or functional résumé, you should make it available in both paper and digital form. Large companies collect e-résumés into databases and use search engines to discover potential candidates. Smaller companies often search online résumé banks.


Since e-résumés are selected by search engines, it’s crucial that your résumé includes keywords that employers will look for—words related to degrees, job skills, experience, technological skills, and even your location. To gather keywords, first scan job listings and write down important nouns. Then brainstorm to expand your list of keywords.

Job Posting Keywords

Law Enforcement Keywords

law enforcement




police science



riot control

security management








Submitting Electronically

Often, when you submit an electronic résumé, you’ll need to copy and paste portions into an online form. If, however, you submit a complete document, save your résumé in a format that can be understood regardless of the reader’s hardware or software:

  • PDF (portable document format) allows your résumé to be viewed by anyone who has the free Adobe Reader. This format allows the best control over fonts, graphics, and page layout.

  • RTF (rich text format) allows your résumé to include some basic formatting, such as bold and italic, and is readable by most word processors.

  • TXT (text only) allows the document to be read by any computer, but it does not include bold, italics, or other special formatting.

Many employers request a specific type of file. Be sure to follow their directions. It is a good idea to follow an e-résumé with a printed résumé, unless an employer specifically says otherwise.


Writing Electronic (Text Only) Résumés

Opening: Present contact information and employment objectives. Jonathan L. Greenlind

806 5th Avenue

Waterloo, IA 50701-9351

Phone: 319.555.6955



Position as hydraulics supervisor that calls for hydraulics expertise, technical skills, mechanical knowledge, reliability, and enthusiasm.

Middle: List skills, experiences, and education using many key words. SKILLS

Operation and repair specialist in main and auxiliary power systems, subsystems, landing gears, brakes and pneumatic systems, hydraulic motors, reservoirs, actuators, pumps, and cylinders from six types of hydraulic systems

Dependable, resourceful, strong leader, team worker

Use a searchable format: one column, asterisks as bullets, simple sans-serif typeface, flush left margin, no italics, or boldface, or underlining. EXPERIENCE

Aviation Hydraulics Technician

United States Navy (2015-present)

* Repair, test, and maintain basic hydraulics, distribution systems, and aircraft structural hydraulics systems.

* Manufacture low-, medium-, and high-pressure rubber and Teflon hydraulic hoses.

* Perform preflight, postflight, and other periodic aircraft inspections.

* Supervise personnel.

Aircraft Mechanic

Sioux Falls International Airport (2013-2015)

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

* Performed fueling, engine overhauls, minor repairs, and tire and oil changes of various aircraft.


United States Navy (2015-2019)

Certificate in Hydraulic Technical School; GPA 3.8/4.0

Certificate in Hydraulic, Pneumatic Test Stand School; GPA 3.9/4.0

Courses in Corrosion Control, Hydraulic Tube Bender, Aviation Structural Mechanics

Equivalent of 10 semester hours in Hydraulic Systems Maintenance and Structural Repair

Closing: Offer references. References available upon request


Checklist Writing Résumés

Your goal is to show that your skills, knowledge, and experience match the requirements for a specific job.

  • Ideas

    • shows that you understand the prospective job and are qualified for it.

    • includes accurate and honest details about training, skills, awards, and experiences matched to the job requirements.

  • Organization

    • begins with your name, contact information, and objective.

    • follows with specific details starting with most recent (chronological) or most important (functional) and groups details under headings.

    • concludes with how the reader can access your references.

  • Voice

    • is confident and knowledgeable, but not arrogant.

  • Words

    • includes key words from the job description as well as related terms.

    • uses accurate terms for academic degrees, training programs, professional certifications, job titles, and tasks.

    • uses strong verbs, especially for a paper-only résumé.

  • Sentences

  • Correctness

    • uses correct terms, names, dates, and titles.

    • includes no errors in grammar, punctuation, mechanics, or spelling.

    • uses periods after clauses (including those with understood subjects).

  • Design

    • uses bullets, boldface, underlining, and business typeface.

    • uses universal and searchable file format.

“A chest full of medals is nothing more than a résumé in 3-D and Technicolor.”

—Owen Edwards

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