Purdue News

March 28, 2006

Online writing lab aids job seekers in preparing resumes, letters

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Job seekers wanting to make a 'write' first impression with their grammar and communication skills can benefit by using the resources of Purdue University's Online Writing Lab.

"The resume and cover letter are often the first meeting a person has with a potential employee," says Linda Bergmann, associate professor of English and director of the writing lab. "It's crucial to make sure you highlight your skills, demonstrate your knowledge, and, most importantly, provide an error-free resume and cover letter."

The Online Writing Lab provides a variety of "Job Search Writing" tips including formatting, resume sections, verb usage, word choices, font, keywords, appropriate content, proofing and mailing tips.

"Many college graduates looking for their first job don't understand how a cover letter and resume should correlate," says Tammy Conard-Salvo, writing lab assistant director. "Cover letters and resumes are complementary. Use the cover letter to tell a story that emphasizes your skills, then that information or experiences you mention should also be included in the resume."

Conard-Salvo also says it's important to customize cover letters by tailoring them for a specific job's qualifications. One way to do so is use key words from the job ad.

"Don't just copy and paste names, but instead demonstrate that you have done research," Conard-Salvo says. "Some clients create one cover letter to mail to 50 people. That lack of effort will be apparent."

Bergmann strongly recommends a thank-you note after an interview.

"Writing a thank-you note well not only emphasizes your credibility but also gives your potential employer another chance to remember you," Bergmann says.

The Writing Lab Web site received more than 20 million hits last year. Available at this site are more than 200 printable handouts on editing and revising, Web research and research papers, as well as current instructions for documentation in Modern Language Association and American Psychological Association writing styles. The Writing Lab also offers a grammar hotline at (765) 494-3723.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, (765) 494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Linda Bergmann, (765) 496-2814, LBergmann@purdue.edu

Tammy Conard-Salvo, (765) 494-4102, tcsalvo@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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