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Cover Letter Development

Hearing the words “cover letter” may cause you to break out in a cold sweat because, let’s face it, résumés and the concept of applying for a job or an internship are scary. It is nerve-wracking to think that in just a few pieces of paper, you are meant to use your skills and past work experience to show an employer how you would benefit their company. No need to fret! A cover letter is not as complicated as it may seem. It is more informal, allows you to show some of your personality to a potential employer, and serves as an introduction to your résumé. A cover letter is to a résumé as an appetizer is to a main course; if the appetizer is pleasing enough, it will leave the customer even more excited for the meal to come. Similarly, if your cover letter is intriguing, it will spark an employer’s interest in knowing more about you. Anytime you mail, fax, or email a résumé, a cover letter should be sent with it, and employers are more likely to review a résumé with a cover letter than without it.  Here are some tips on how you can organize your cover letter:

Let’s Get Technical: Format

The cover letter should be no longer than one page, based on a standard-size paper, and it should not be longer than four paragraphs. The margins should measure ½ to ¾ of an inch on all sides, and a professional font should be used such as Times New Roman or Arial in size 10- or 12-point font.

Organizing Your Content

  1. Address the Individual

The beginning of a cover letter is similar to the beginning of a regular letter, meaning the individual you are writing to should be greeted and addressed by name and title. For example, you could start with “Dear Mr. Person-in-Charge” or “Dear Ms. Company Director.” If there is not a name to refer to, address the letter to HR, Personnel Director, or the head of the department where you are applying. It would definitely help you in the long-run to put forth the effort to find out who exactly you are addressing.

  1. Show Off Your Skills

Remember the skills and work experience we were talking about earlier? Here is where you include them. Your main goal is to show how they will contribute to the company’s success. Relevancy is key, so make sure to review the job requirements to connect your expertise with the position for which you are applying.

Paragraph 1: What skills do you have to offer?

This paragraph should give a brief overview of your skills or work experience and affirm that they will benefit the company. Mention the company by name, and if the letter is in response to an advertisement, mention when and where the advertisement was seen.

Paragraphs 2 and 3: How exactly will the skills benefit the company?

These two paragraphs should provide an explanation of your previously stated skills. You should investigate the values and mission statement of the company and match your skills and achievements to them in order to accentuate your usefulness to the employer. You can also use this paragraph to emphasize significant parts of your résumé or add relevant strengths or accomplishments that were not included in it. For example, you can describe a specific situation and how your efforts contributed to a positive outcome.

  1. Conclusion

This is where you tie it all together. Your last paragraph should invite the employer to follow up on your cover letter and résumé. It should be brief and show your optimistic ambition by expressing a desire for an interview. Some statements you can use are “Hope to hear from you soon.” or “Thank you for your time.” You can even take a direct approach and ask, “When can we arrange an interview?” Make sure to repeat your contact information (phone and email) so your potential employer can reach out to you.

You are almost finished! In order to make sure your cover letter is pristine and ready to go, review the format. Your cover letter should follow business letter etiquette:

  1. Return address and phone number are located in the top right or left corner.
  2. The date should be placed underneath the address.
  3. The employer’s full address should be included, flush left margin.
  4. It is unnecessary to indent paragraphs, but double space in between them for clarity.
  5. You should include a salutation, followed by a written signature and your full name typed beneath it. If you are emailing it, you can type your name and make it look like a signature by using a cursive font.
  6. If the cover letter is sent with a résumé, type “Enclosure” or “Encl.”

You have reached the finish line! Developing a cover letter may seem tedious, but taking the time to organize and sort out your content will enhance its quality. Your cover letter is your first introduction to a potential employer and is a complement to your résumé, so you want to provide a professional impression. This means ensuring you are being intentional and making the effort to learn about the company, the position you are applying for, and the person you are addressing. Check for correct grammar and use complete sentences in order to reflect professionalism. Throughout your cover letter, keep brevity in mind. Though elaboration is important, a cover letter should mainly showcase your personality before the employer looks at your résumé. Being concise also helps keep the cover letter within one page. Most importantly, be yourself. You are trying to show your own unique characteristics and capabilities, so you want your cover letter to reflect that. Happy applying!

Sources:

https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/guide/how-to-write-a-cover-letter/

https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-write-a-cover-letter-31-tips-you-need-to-know

Written by Deneen

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For more information on how to write a cover letter, check out our Cover Letter Development handout on the Quick Reference Flyer page of our website!

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Let’s Get Personal: Writing a Profile Essay

A profile is a great type of essay to write for many reasons. Profiles focus on a particular person, place, or event, and use vivid description techniques to engage the audience. Furthermore, the subject matter usually holds personal importance to the author, so it differs from a descriptive paper in that the personal meaning is discussed and illustrated.

The Mechanics of the Essay

Mechanically, there are a few basic things to remember when writing a profile. For the introduction, you could begin with an anecdote or give background information, which will help the author give context and meaning to the paper. Following this, the writer can introduce the subject.

The body paragraphs of the profile will contain three to five key characteristics of the subject matter. Each characteristic should examine the most important qualities of the topic. There should not be vague or general statements within this paper. Each characteristic is intentional and has great detail and description involved.

The conclusion should summarize the paper and needs to have the specific characteristics restated. There should not be any new information presented in the conclusion, only things that were specifically discussed within the paper.

Practical Steps to Planning the Paper

The best place to start with this type of essay is to pick the specific person, place, or event that you will be focusing on for the paper. Following this, pick three to five important characteristics and include details. Then, go back and expand on each characteristic in order to explain the importance of each. From here, you can write, revise, and edit. Most importantly, remember to not get stressed out and just take the writing process one step at a time.

Profile Example

spain1

“Yay, they’re here!” shouted the refugee kids in Salt, Spain. Kids of all ages gathered around as my mission’s team pulled out soccer balls, jump ropes, glitter tattoos, and other fun activities. I paused and took a second to soak in the moment. Kids from all backgrounds with different stories were happily playing on the concrete of the plaza, delighted by the games we brought. Serving in Salt and Girona, Spain, was one of the most profound trips I have gone on, and I am grateful for what I experienced: the diversity, culture, and opportunity to spread the Gospel.

The people who live in Spain come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, yet it is a place where anyone can fit in. The people are kind, friendly, and willing to help the tourists, and want them to experience their culture. I was very nervous about going to another country, especially because it was my first time out of America, but I found everyone whom I encountered personable and eager to help me figure out directions and how to pay with Euros. Furthermore, many Spaniards are eager to interact with tourists. It was such a blessing to share Bible stories in Spanish and Catalan, the official languages of Girona, Spain. Many of the Muslims and other refugees took children’s Bibles with them and brought them back to their houses.

In addition, I loved the pace of life in Spain. Every shop closes for lunch each day for an hour, and dinner is an experience in and of itself. Dinner typically begins around eight or nine and lasts until eleven or midnight. Dinnertime is one aspect of how they value family and community while eating, and it was something I came to treasure while I was visiting. Everyone reminisces about his/her day, laughs, and enjoys the community of others. I find that this is something we lack in America where everything in this country is about having fast and convenient meals, which can sometimes take away from the aspect of intentional community.

Spain is an awesome mission field because the faith is dying out there. Beautiful cathedrals are not much more than museums nowadays, and only two percent of Spaniards are Christians. It was very humbling and impactful to serve alongside the missionary family and their partners. We heard from one of the missionary kids that she was the only Christian in her entire school. She described how difficult and lonely her journey has been growing up in Spain. Yet, she was thankful for the opportunity the Lord gave her to share her faith with so many around her.

Spain will always hold a special place in my heart. From the people, the lifestyle, and the opportunity to share the hope and love of Christ, it is a neat place. I hope that I will be able to return there one day in order to serve the people of Spain more and continue the ministry that we started.

Written by Amanda

For more information on how to write a profile essay, check out our Profile Essay handout and the Quick Reference Flyer page of our website!

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Is Catawampus Fun to Say?

My life as a writing center director can easily become mundane. As my staff and I look at academic essay after research paper after class project, we quickly drown in correct grammar, active voice, and other aspects of formal writing for judging eyes that will ultimately grade the work with which we assist. Sometimes, though, we want to avoid the highfaluting, perfection sought in scholastic endeavors. We let our hair down and guffaw over words that tickle the tongue, cheer the ear, and satisfy our sensibilities. Are you ever like that? Do you, too, seek words that challenge your tongue and cause your brain to do a double take? Recently, I composed a list of words to share with a particular Writing Consultant who savors words as a chef does an exquisite dish of tempting flavors. Without further ado, let’s explore four tongue pleasing, ear thrilling words.

When is the last time someone in your presence uttered “walloped”? Has it been so long that even the meaning escapes your conscience? Perhaps the following context will help: Ellie May told a whopper (lie), and Daddy walloped her for it. Now, you and I might think he spanked her, but others might see a walloping more as a beating. You decide, but know this is a term and an action we hope has died. However, if two boys are duking it out and one wallops the other, you know there was a clear winner.

I’m as old as dirt, and only recently I discovered the word foofaraw. What a great word! Say it loud and clear: FOO-FAR-ALL! Now, wasn’t that satisfying? What does it mean? Who cares; it’s so much fun to say! Oh, wait. You do care? Well, it means much attention given to a minor matter: The students created a foofaraw when the professor announced they’d have an extra day to study. Now, don’t you feel smarter already? Or are you laughing, as am I?

My partner in seeking eccentric words giggles with me over hubbub. Say hubbub fast three times. It’s almost impossible, isn’t it? Say it loud enough and with enough laughter, and you’ll BE the hubbub, which is a loud hullabaloo. How’s that for an explanation? You say that using an obsolete word to define an archaic word doesn’t work for you? Well, fine. Hubbub is a noisy situation caused by loud talking and laughter. A hullabaloo is similar but may be more negative – less laughter more irritation.

Friends, those are four words that cause much laughter, hubbub, and even foofaraw in your favorite Writing Center. We love language, and we enjoy unusual, uncommon terms. In fact, we like them so much that we just might share a few more outdated, amusing words in another blog. Share your favorite funny words in the comment section; we could always use more laughter.

Written by Kā

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Finding Your Voice

If you’ve spent any time in a high school or college English class, you’ve probably heard a teacher or professor say, “Anyone can be a proficient writer! It’s all about finding your voice.” Upon hearing that, a few thoughts may enter your mind:

“What does that even mean?”

“Uhhh words don’t have vocal cords, how are they supposed to have a voice?”

“Wait maybe writing with a voice is just…talking?”

“Whatever that means, I’m pretty sure I don’t have a voice in my writing.”

I completely understand why the idea of “your voice” in writing might be confusing, and I want to clarify what it means to have a voice and the importance of channeling it into your writing.

So, what do professors mean when they refer to a voice in writing? Simply put, a voice is the unique style and manner in which an author communicates his or her ideas. This can be seen in sentence structures, vocabulary choices, tones and expressions, and so much more. More often than not, the real-life mannerisms and personality traits of authors manifest themselves in their writing because people tend to write similar to how they converse with others in their day-to-day lives.

Using myself as an example, I have a pretty dry and sarcastic personality, and my writing reflects that. Naturally, I have a straightforward delivery in my voice, so writing with an overly energetic or perky tone would result in an awkwardly formulated paper. Having that self-awareness is important for me, as a writer, because I want to come across as myself in my writing. As writers, we never want to come across as disingenuous, so it’s crucial for us to understand our voice and style of writing.

“Well that’s great and all, but I don’t think I have a voice.”

Don’t be ridiculous, you little stinker. Of course you have a voice! I know it’s cliché, but we are all individuals with a distinct set of personality traits, so our writings have different voices from one another (also I know it’s cliché to say “I know it’s cliché,” but listen we need to stay focused). If you are a living, literate person with a soul, you have a voice in your writing.

“Okay, but how do I find my voice? Also, I’m not a little stinker.”

Fair enough, I apologize for calling you a little stinker. Finding and becoming comfortable with your voice can be incredibly difficult. It can take years of writing to find your voice because it requires an understanding of who you are as an individual, an arduous process in it of itself. You don’t need to know everything about who you are as a person to find your voice, but think about some of these questions if you’re lost:

  • What activities do you enjoy?
  • What kind of writing compels you?
  • What style of writing would you want to engage in?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do you love talking about with people?
  • How do you enjoy engaging in your interests (discussions with others, listening to lectures, interactive activities, etc.)?

Hopefully, these questions can help you understand what your interests are and how you can engage with them. When you take something you’re passionate about and interact with it through writing, you are able to lay out your thoughts in the most natural manner. That is your voice!

I understand the feeling of frustration that comes from not having a grasp of your voice, but don’t lose hope. It’s not an easy process, but it’s also not impossible. Keep engaging in your passions and writing consistently, and over time, your voice will come to you, ya little stinker (sorry).

Written by Ryan

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Lessons from the Writing Center

As I approach graduation and my two-year anniversary of working in the Dallas Baptist University Writing Center (UWC), I have begun to reflect on the lessons this wonderful office has taught me. When I submitted my application, I thought I knew everything there was to know about writing – academic or otherwise. Little did I know that, while I had many foundational writing skills, the UWC had much more to teach me. If you have ever wondered what being in a community of writers like this could do for you, the following lessons are worth perusing.

There is always more to learn

One of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t visit the UWC before I applied to be a consultant. As I said, I thought I already knew it all. Well, it didn’t take long after applying for me to figure out that nothing could be further from the truth. No matter how great a writer we think we are, there is always more to learn.

Any good writing center staff knows this and is trained and eager to help students at any skill level. In the collaborative model, such as my office uses, consultants help students become stronger writers rather than editing their papers for them. Students are encouraged to continually return with their papers, read them out loud to a consultant, make edits as they go, and apply the concepts discussed throughout the rest of the paper.

Believe it or not, this model is most beneficial to students who are already strong writers or, at the very least, are dedicated to developing their writing skills. This knowledge and passion for writing enables them to better engage with consultants during sessions. I didn’t understand this before applying.

For those of you who love words, this means that visiting your campus’ writing center might take some humility. But if you ever visit, I promise, your session will be so effective. For those of you who aren’t writers, there’s still good news: the perfect writer doesn’t exist. It might feel like you have an endless amount to learn, but even the most experienced writer is right there with you.

Writing is a group effort

Before I joined the UWC, I thought that writing a stellar essay, or anything for that matter, required staying cooped up in my room and grinding out page after page until my eyes crossed and my fingers ached. Research, outline, draft, edit, rewrite, repeat. Research, outline, draft, edit, rewrite, repeat. That was my model because I selfishly thought, “Without completing this tedious process on my own, how can I consider the masterpiece created truly mine?”

Then I came to the UWC and learned that masterpieces are not often created by hermits. Unlike some might have us think, the greatest writers are not brooding geniuses who lock themselves up in the mountains or on an island, searching for inspiration and the ability to say, “Look at what I created, and all by myself!” No, the most successful writers understand what I had to learn in the UWC, that we must all swallow our pride and accept that truly good writing – whether an essay, a poem, a short story, or anything – is more often the result of wonderful collaborations.

For those of you out there who love words and wish to weave them on your own, this is potentially bad news. The way I see it, you’ve got your work cut out for you. However, for those of you who hate words and wish nothing to do with them, this might come as a breath of fresh air. You don’t have to figure writing out on your own! If your school, or your job, or your own ambition requires you to understand writing – and you can bet one of them will sooner or later – then find a community of people to surround yourself with who can help you figure out writing, one page at a time. I will forever be grateful for my friends in the UWC who helped me figure out my essays, my blogs, my emails, my cover letters, one page at a time.

These are just two of the many lessons the UWC has taught me. In short, I cannot recommend highly enough that you learn the joy of writing. If you are a college student, take a leap of faith and visit your university’s writing center. If you are in any other chapter of life, find a group of people who can encourage you as you write, just like all my friends in the UWC have done for me.

Written by Meredith

 

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Using Sources Effectively

Finding a good topic to write about and establishing a strong thesis statement is challenging. Realizing that you must come up with 15 different sources and manage to use all of them in your paper, however, can be anxiety-inducing. You start to panic, so you begin to pick random quotes and stick them in the middle of a paragraph hoping they’re relevant. In the end, you end up with a mediocre grade for something that took you so long and caused you so much stress. Don’t fret. There is a method to this madness. Below are some tips and tricks to help you navigate the seemingly mountainous task of using your sources effectively.

Plan Ahead

If your assignment requires you to use a great number of sources, make sure you start working on gathering them ahead of time. Find all of your references and list them out in order of relevance to your topic and/or thesis statement. Then, begin reading from the most relevant sources. Some may seem like they’re a mile long, but you don’t have to read everything. Read the first few pages, the middle few pages, and the last few pages of the source. Most articles also have headings and subheadings that help guide you to the most useful information for your specific topic.

Prepare your best choice of weapons, such as pens and highlighters, and brace yourself to tackle the giant beast! Highlight keywords or phrases as well as statistics. Then, in your own words, summarize research studies and expert testimonies. Before you know it, you have condensed your source into digestible bits of information you actually understand.

You Did Not Plan Ahead; You Need a Plan B

If you did not plan ahead and are in a crunch for time, all hope is not lost. Flip through the Psalms for some encouragement and prepare to win the race against time. Choose a few sources you think you would be able to use with the ticking clock in mind. Don’t forget, you have to actually write the paper too. It is better to use fewer sources well rather than to use multiple sources poorly.

It is better to use fewer sources well rather than to use multiple sources poorly.

Once you’ve picked the sources you want to use, start applying the methods described above. If you need extra speed, read and highlight the first sentence of every paragraph. This gives you a general understanding of the sources’ claims about your topic. You can summarize and paraphrase these claims and put them to use!

Making It Make Sense

Using direct quotes, statistics, and other facts can make your paper seem choppy if it lacks organization. The key to using sources effectively is asking yourself a simple question: why? Why did you choose that particular source in this particular part of the paper? Once you are able to answer this question, you can be sure you are using the quotes and paraphrases correctly. Connect all the dots for the reader, reiterate implied ideas for clarification, and make sure it all agrees with your thesis statement. It is also extremely important that you alternate between direct quotes and paraphrases throughout your paper.

Connect all the dots for the reader, reiterate implied ideas for clarification, and make sure it all agrees with your thesis statement.

Conclusion

Condensing and digesting the information found within sources might look a little different for each student; however, the overall goal should be gaining a clear understanding of the reason for the use of that particular source. It is also important that the reader can discern your own thoughts from a mere summarization of the sources. Practice evoking the question or prompt and your answer to it, also known as the thesis statement. And don’t forget, cite your sources!

Written by Kenean 

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The Mysterious Creature

In Lenape, Deleware, the native people believe that if they dream of an owl it means it will become their guardian. The Dakota Hidatsa Indians believe the owls are protectors; even in Greek mythology, owls symbolized wisdom. These theories aren’t true, but owls have something very special and unique about them.

Owls can be found in all parts of the world, including North America, which is home to almost 20 different owl species. The only place you will not find one of these beloved creatures is in Antarctica because the climate is simply too cold. These creatures are unique in many ways: one being that they have 14 cervical vertebrae. Which means they can rotate their necks 270 degrees! An owl’s eyes are completely immobile, giving it binocular vision to focus in on its prey. Did you know they hunt each other? Great horned owls are at the top of the species’ food chain and prey on smaller barn owls.

Owls and humans have been friends for a long time. Hieroglyphs in Ancient Egypt show our relationship with these stunning creatures going back over 30,000 years ago. However, we can’t get too friendly with these birds; it is illegal to keep an owl as a pet in the United States. This is for a good reason though; they attack humans if they feel threatened anyway.  The relation between owls and writing centers is that Purdue OWL was the first-ever writing center to create an online writing lab and email services. Ever since then, owls have been the face of writing centers across the nation.

Written by Princess

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