16 – Applications

Crafting Application Materials: An Overview

Matt McKinney

Crafting and customizing application materials are essential skills for any technical or professional communicator, regardless of field or industry. You will need these skills during many important moments of your education and career, including:

  • Seeking an internship or entry-level position at the beginning of your career.
  • Applying to advance your education (e.g. medical school, trade school, etc.).
  • Applying for a promotion within your company or organization.
  • Applying for competitive awards or additional funding in pursuit of educational or professional development (e.g., scholarships, grants, travel funds, etc.).
  • Moving from one company or organization to another.
  • Changing your career path from one field or industry to another.
  • Returning to the workforce after a gap in employment.

This chapter will provide you with strategies for writing and revising application materials in a variety of circumstances, with an emphasis on materials for job applications. Most job applications will require two complementary documents: a cover letter and a résumé.[1] A résumé provides a comprehensive overview of your relevant credentials for a specific position. By contrast, the cover letter focuses on your two or three strongest credentials and contextualizes them, showcasing your ethos, pathos, and skill sets as a professional in the position for which you are applying. This chapter will begin with how to research and analyze ads to ensure you are responding to them with your materials effectively. From there, this chapter will review the different components and genre conventions of application materials (such as résumés and cover letters), as well as the different structural templates you can use to best showcase your skills and credentials in these documents. It will then conclude with how to write a thank-you letter and express gratitude professionally.

Note

Application Tip: A great practice for crafting and refining application materials is to have a “master” version of your résumé, curriculum vitae (CV), personal statement, and/or cover letter, which can be adapted quickly to the specific rhetorical situation of any application you craft. Not only will this promote efficiency as you apply for multiple positions and opportunities, but you can return to these documents and update them as you advance in your career and develop new skills.

McKinney, Matt, Kalani Pattison, Sarah LeMire, Kathy Anders, and Nicole Hagstrom-Schmidt, eds. Howdy or Hello?: Technical and Professional Communication. 2nd ed. College Station: Texas A&M University, 2022. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

  1. Both resume and résumé are correct English spellings. Consistency is the most important consideration for your work.

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