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As the name implies, a cover letter is a document that introduces you and accompanies your resume. It is what a hiring manager will see first. In a competitive job market, hiring managers may get hundreds of resumes for only one position. Going through all of them can be time consuming. To alleviate the time strain, most hiring managers will quickly read over or scan cover letters to decide which resumes to read more closely.

To be effective, the body paragraphs of your cover letter must really sell you as the best candidate for the job. This area should highlight your accomplishments and qualifications, as well as explain how you can benefit the company. It should be easy to read and have a positive tone. Each paragraph of your cover letter has a different purpose, and there are strategies you can use to make each paragraph effective.

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Finding employment can be challenging for anyone, but the job market can be especially tough for recent college graduates, people re-entering the workforce after time away, or someone who has been in a position for a long time. Competition is stiff; the market is filled with other strong job candidates, too. So how can you increase your chances for getting a great job in the field you love? For almost everyone, it starts with a resume.

A resume provides the hiring manager with his or her very first impression of you. A well-written one could be your ticket into an interview. You can use it before an interview to help you prepare your answers to the questions you expect to get, and it can even help you during the interview by giving you a way to direct the flow of questions.

A chronological resume:

  • Includes job titles, dates of employment, and a description of the job in terms of accomplishments and measurable tasks
  • Is most often done in reverse order, with your most recent job listed first
  • Works best for job seekers who have a steady employment history or previous employment that is related to the position being sought

A functional resume:

  • Groups applicable skills into functional skill categories
  • Highlights applicable skills and experience without revealing a lapse in employment
  • Works best for job seekers who have gaps in their employment history, little previous work experience, or recently changed careers
  • Is disliked by many hiring managers

A combination resume:

  • Highlights functional skills and experience without hiding employment dates
  • Works best for job seekers who have required skills from a variety of jobs, are trying to change careers, or have had a steady work history
  • Is a favorite among hiring managers and recruiters
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All business emails should be direct, clear, and easy to read. The tone of a business email, however, can vary from informal to formal. The formality can depend on your company, the intended audience, subject matter, and several other factors. Regardless of the formality, remember to stay professional because you lose control of the email once you click "send". Emails can be copied and forwarded to others indefinitely, and if you’re inappropriate or unprofessional, your poor choice of words could follow you.

As with any email, a business email should include a brief but descriptive subject line, one or more recipients, and an attachment if needed. If you are including multiple recipients, consider using the CC (carbon copy) field to keep the extra recipients in the loop without requiring them to respond. Whether you're using email at work or applying for a job, the normal rules of email etiquette still apply.

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Grammar is very important in writing a paper for class or composing a formal business email. Learn about contractions, comma placement, sentence structure, sentence fragments, quotations, and more.

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Faculty and Staff Resources

Good writing assignments also often take shape by thinking backwards. In effect, teachers ask themselves, "What do I want to read at the end of this assignment?" By working from what they anticipate the final product to look like, teachers can give students detailed guidelines about both the writing task and the final written product.

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Students need practice to be able to use writing effectively to meet their goals. One or two writing classes just can't provide enough daily practice over the course of an undergraduate program of study.

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Not all writing assignments can be converted from individual writing tasks to group writing tasks, nor should they all. But at least some writing tasks work best in collaborative groups.

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No matter how much you want to improve student writing, remember that students can only take in so much information about a draft at one time. Particularly because writing is such an egocentric activity, writers tend to feel overloaded quickly by excessively detailed feedback about their writing.

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Find information about grading rubrics, how to manage grammar, alternative paper assignments, and more.

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