Assignment: Respond to Job Posting (Gaitens, 1999)

This assignment consists of a memo describing the position for which you are applying.  This is the position you will create your resume for.


Purpose:  In order to gauge how effectively you have arranged the sections of your resume and how well you have answered the potential reader questions in your application letter, I must know what company and position you are applying for, plus any other pertinent information about the situation. The memo should give me the background I need to evaluate your job application.

Content Suggestions: Tell me the name of the company and a little about what that company does: the product it manufactures or the service it renders.  Then tell me which department you are applying to and the specific job title.  I also need to know the requirements for the position and representative duties.

Explain how you know about this position.  Responding to an advertisement is quite different from sending out an unsolicited request for a position!  If you are responding to an ad, include the ad itself, but also tell me in the memo what the ad calls for in prospective employees.  If you are sending out an unsolicited resume, tell me why you chose that company and position as well as how you know about the position.

Finally, tell me why you are applying for this position.  What is it about the company, the position, or your qualifications that make this a good fit?

Format and Length:  Use the conventional memo format.  Address the memo to your instructor.  Respond as a student in section nnn (your section no.).

The memo need only be one page, but must give me an adequate picture of the company, the position, and why you chose this particular position.

Process for Creating the Memo: Now that you have read the description of the assignment, begin by gathering the data, answering the questions on the pages describing the research for a position and on the organization.

Next consider the arrangement of materials according to the purpose listed above and quickly draft a first version, preferably on a computer.

Then look at the criteria for this project and let your revision be guided by the criteria. It would also be helpful to look at a sample of the assignment and compare.  This is an equivalent to the models you will see at work.  The comparison should be made on the basis of  format conventions, kind of content, sources that seem to be acceptable, and sometimes the arrangement of material.  Readers in each company have expectations and models help us realize what those expectations might be.

This use of models is not meant to take away rhetorical choice or to say that every document we see on the job is being written in  the most effective way. We might, indeed, want to make changes!  But first we must understand why the models are the way they are, what readers need and expect.

Finally, proof the memo for a final submission to meet the due date.


Peer Review

Rationale.    Reviewing a document at work takes place on multiple levels and for various reasons.  Our work is reviewed by supervisors, managers, occasionally by the executive level.  An annual report, for example, might be reviewed by a Chief Financial Officer in a year of declining profits, to make sure it doesn’t look worse than it is!  In these instances approval is being sought in addition to the writer being socialized into the “company way” of doing things as part of the writing process.

Approval is less likely to be your primary goal when you ask your peers (people at roughly the same level or experience as you) for their help.  You probably want to know if your writing is clear, if what you actually said is what you really meant to say.  You might also be looking for a positive response to your persuasive evidence: did you convince the reader or do you need more support for your ideas?

If your reader points out punctuation errors or grammatical or tone problems, or someplace that the document doesn’t follow standard company policies, that will be extra assistance.

This is the kind of help we are trying to imitate in class.

Process.   Start with the situation itself.  Ask your peer to explain the reason for writing.  Be sure you know the role (position in the company) of the person he/she is writing to.  Then try to read as though you had that person’s job.

Be guided by the questions on the Peer Review Sheets; they are the main focus of the exercise.  But in addition to those questions, you and your peer can discuss any topic related to the writing.

As is true at work, you ultimately have control over your writing.  You make the choices and submit the document to a manager, so you may accept or reject the advice you get.  Just make sure you have thoroughly examined the situation and the suggestions.  Make wise choices.  Be sure that you create a positive impression of yourself as employee, as a competent writer.  Your career could depend on it.

Questions for Memo:
Is the heading for the memo standard format?  It the Subject line clear and specific?  Suggestions?

Does the writer begin by telling, in general terms, what the memo is about?  Suggestions?

Does the writer include specific information about the position, its duties and/or responsibilities, the skills it requires?  Suggestions?

Does the writer include specific information about the company, its product or service, and where it is located?  Suggestions?

Does the writer include specific information about how the company and position were researched?  Suggestions?

Does the writer tell the reader why he/she is applying for this position?

Finally, were you the instructor, would you have enough information to determine the effectiveness of this job application?  Suggestions?




Print this sheet, sign it, and submit it with the assignment it evaluates.

Criteria Sheets:  Description of Position, Memo Criteria

1. Memo format is complete; subject heading is descriptive, telling the reader the specific subject of the memo, in the context of the course.

very good


2.  Information about the position is complete and clear.  The name of the position as well as representative duties (what you would be doing for the company) and qualifications (skills, aptitudes, education, experience, etc.) are given.


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3. Information about the company is complete and clear.  The product or service is explained and the size and location given.


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4. The source of the information about the opening is complete, including how and where the company and position were researched.


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5. The memo is well organized.  Information is presented in order of importance, beginning with an overview of the position and the company.  Explanations are clear and concise, but specific.  The memo lets the instructor know about special condition for the resume such as discipline-specific requirements, scanning, etc.


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