12.5 Next Steps

Submitting Your Materials

Once you are ready to send out your materials, remember the following guidelines:

  • Proofread carefully! Do not rely on Spell-check alone. Proofread by reading your work backward one sentence at a time (using this strategy helps you focus on sentence-level writing rather than on content and “flow”). Ask a few friends to help you proofread before you send it out.
  • Make sure your verb tense, font, and design choices stay consistent throughout.
  • If you are submitting your documents as hard copies, use high-quality paper.
  • If you are submitting your documents electronically, consider saving your documents as PDF files, so that the formatting is preserved (PDF files are also widely readable).
  • If you are e-mailing your materials:
    • Send the materials as attachments to a brief, introductory e-mail.
    • Consider ALSO including the résumé in the body of the e-mail (in case the employer is wary of attachments).
    • Do not replace a job application letter with an e-mail. Job application letters are formal enough to warrant formal letter format.
    • Send a copy to yourself first to make sure it opens and is formatted properly.

Modular Materials

You may be thinking that it sounds like a lot of work to create a new set of employment materials for every job opening you have identified. While it is true that it takes time and effort to customize, you do not have to create a new resume and cover letter from scratch for every job opening. Instead, you can create “modular” materials with moving parts that you can simply adapt and reorganize for each job.

For example, let’s say you are a nursing student, and you are looking to work in a related field while you are in school. You might be happy as an administrative assistant in a clinical setting, as a medical translator, or as a biology tutor. If you use the functional (skills) resume format, you might create 3 different “templates” of your résumé that each emphasizes and expands upon different skill categories, administrative, communication, and educational. Each of these résumés, however, would stress your medical background.

The same holds true with the cover letter.  Once you have a draft cover letter, you can work with it as a template for numerous other jobs, keeping the overall format but revising some key sentences.  It is quite likely that the final paragraph of your cover letters will never change.  The central paragraphs, on the other hand, may undergo substantial revision, depending on how different one potential job is from another. Just make sure to always change the name of the potential employer; no matter what the skill level of the potential job, addressing a potential employer by the wrong name is the surest way to remove your application from consideration.

Résumés and cover letters are two documents in an “ecology” of documents related to the employment process: job descriptions, interview questions, the thank-you note you send after an interview, writing samples, and hiring materials are just a few other documents you might find yourself reading and writing as your hiring process moves forward.


This chapter was written by Megan Savage, Portland Community College, and is licensed CC-BY 4.0.


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Technical Writing Copyright © 2017 by Allison Gross, Annemarie Hamlin, Billy Merck, Chris Rubio, Jodi Naas, Megan Savage, and Michele DeSilva is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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