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11/22/11
Cover letters. Audience Analysis. Do you need an Objective in your resume and for academic applications
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 12:57 pm

In a cogent conversation yesterday discussing a
future workshop it got me to thinking about the
audience’s attention.  A common phrase, “WIIIFM”
what is in it for me,” came to mind and the need
to think about and do an audience analysis.

We are planning to work together, the organizers
and I, to seek their career aspirations (government,
academic, and industrial) and what would help them
the most in the program (resume review, cover letter,
mock interview, and career discussion including
personal unique situations which cannot be usually
covered in a general audience).

AUDIENCE ANALYSIS FOR COVER LETTERS
AND OBJECTIVE STATEMENTS
That got me to thinking about the situations we all
face in writing our cover letters and an objective
statement in our resumes.  [We note at this point that
CVs do not usually contain an objective.]  Very commonly
the prescription for “business resumes” is also to
de-select an objective statement.  The logic being three
fold– (1) they are hard to write, (2) it can preclude an
applicant from positions not specified and also under
consideration, and (3) it does not pinpoint to how an
applicant can make their case to be a good hire given
the different set of skills business positions require.

CASE FOR INCLUDING OBJECTIVE
The Objective can be helpful in pointing out specifically
the position that is desired, showing a match to a
job description.  The objective is suggested to be
a short phrase.  We find ourselves, especially early
in our careers, to be “qualified” for entry level positions
in a number of fields using our technical expertise
to solve problems, invent, innovate and make a
profit.  So, it can be helpful to state that we seek the
opening and include in our HIGHLIGHTS a
prioritized list supporting the objective.

The Objective needs to be tailored for each position.
However, including an objective for a process position
in a resume for a analytical laboratory position would
quickly dismiss consideration.

On the other hand, an Objective might be optional
in cases such as a career fair, where a number
of companies and positions are under
consideration.  Also, the HIGHLIGHTS section might
be renamed QUALIFICATIONS in this case.
This then requires more work on the part of the
resume reviewer to extract keywords for a match.
This lessens the chance for consideration.

TAILORED COVER LETTERS ARE NEEDED
It is true that a cover letter will also state your
desire for a position yet it provides an indication
of your motivation, your knowledge about the
business and supports your skills in language
and ability to communicate. 

There are three forms for industrial and
government targeted cover letters, generally–
invited by an ad or announcement,
-  based on a referral or suggestion through
your network
-  asking for consideration based on third parties,
information interviews and other leads.

Critical contents of a cover letter are
-  close attention to addresses, spelling and date
-  being specific about the desired position and
the reasons why you are an exceptional candidate
-  asking for an interview, the next step in the process.

K. Hansen does a creditable job in FAQs for
cover letters
.

ACADEMIC COVER LETTERS
A fraction of cover letters will be for applications
for academic positions.  The process can be
more involved since academic positions in
chemistry will also include a teaching philosophy,
research proposals, teaching and educational
experiences pertinent to the educational institution.
Cover letters for academic positions less
frequently contain bullets, should provide
evidence of scholarship and offer to send
copies of other documents that the search
committee would benefit from in their evaluation,
like teaching evaluations, transcripts and letters of
recommendation.  [The CV will list your
references, yet academics frequently like a
full package before considering an application.]

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