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To: TCOM 3302
From: Mike Duncan
Subject: Resume
The resume encapsulates most, if not all, of the principles of Western technical communication.
It’s brief and to the point, with an eye toward visual presentation, and it serves a clear, active
purpose – to represent you as a prospective employee and, hopefully, to land you an interview.
There are some safe decisions that you can make early on:
Use 1” margins
Use one page only
Do not use special paper or a background that would prevent easy copying
Use no font bigger than 14 or smaller than 10
Organize either by skill (the “functional” approach of your textbook) or by
education/work (the “archival” approach).
What follows are more general tips.
The general rule for picking an organizational strategy for a resume is if you’ve never been
employed before, or your experience is limited, you should focus on skills/education. Otherwise,
go with your degree(s) and jobs first. If you’re in a technical field, though, say engineering,
always default to archival.
Many resumes use ‘resume sentences’ – fragments that aren’t full sentences to save space. This
is common and expected. The sentences in job descriptions always begin with action verbs –
‘Managed’, ‘Designed’, etc.
Resumes need a mission statement at the top to give them some focus. By default, it should say
what you’re looking for in a position. However, if you know what the employer is offering and
wants of you, it is not uncommon to rewrite this statement to fit the position and expectations.
You can do either of these tasks in a single sentence.
A common question I’m often asked by students is, “I haven’t finished my degree yet. How do I
mention that on the resume?” I advise listing your prospective degree under an Education
section, but prominently add something along the lines of “Expected Graduation Date May
2008.” That way, it’s clear you’re still in college, plus the employer knows when you’ll be
finished. Not listing your college at all is unwise.
If your degree is not finished, list your high school to be clear that you graduated HS; if you
already have a college degree, listing your high school is unnecessary unless it was unusually
prestigious, or you believe your prospective employer would be interested in a local graduate.
List all relevant past jobs. Necessary information for each job would include the name of the
employer, the city and state, the times you were there (by month or year is fine), your title, and a
summary of your responsibilities and accomplishments.
If you have odd gaps in your work history – periods of unemployment, time as a full-time
student, homemaker, etc, jobs you are ashamed of, I suggest not listing or explaining them in the
resume unless they qualify you in some special way. Wait for the interview.
Use the whole page. Bullets, bold type, different fonts for headings, and careful use of italics can
help organize the great amount of compressed information that a resume can include.
‘References Upon Request’ is a good way to finish things off – it implies there is more to you
than what is on the resume, and ensures your references will always be up to date.
You probably have more of these than you think. Stick to the quantifiable, though. Anyone can
write down ‘skilled public speaker’ but it’s more practical to note that you wrote and delivered
10 fundraising speeches recently for a non-profit group, and let your skill be assumed from that.
An exception to this rule would be skills like knowledge of computer programs and languages,
which you can just list, though you could mention successful code or translation work.
Personal Info
Avoid including personal information, unless it bears heavily upon the position. I like playing
computer games, for example, but I wouldn’t think of it as a skill or include it on a resume
unless, say, I was applying for the position of a game designer/programmer/tester/reviewer, in
which case it might help convey enthusiasm for the work. Anything else may hurt as much as it
might help. You never know what the personal likes/dislikes of the employer are, so keep
everything on a professional level.
Last Thoughts
If you feel stuck, look at resumes online. You may find one or two that are inspiring, or help you
remember something that you did years ago that you could mention.
To: TCOM 3302
From: Mike Duncan
Subject: Progress Reports
There are several kinds of activity reports – progress reports, white papers, incident reports, and
lab reports. Here, I’ll talk about progress reports, which your textbook sometimes calls “status
reports” and discusses on p. 110-115.
Memo format is appropriate for progress reports, but progress reports are often delivered orally,
In any case, the principles are the same regardless of format. You’re giving an account of a task
that is not yet completed to a superior or another decision-making audience, so they can decide if
the project should be continued, stopped, or altered in some way. If you’re thinking about “what
is going to happen after I submit this report,” you’re most likely writing some form of progress
Remember you have an ethical responsibility to give an accurate picture of what is going on with
the task in question in a progress report, so your audience (usually a superior, or someone who
has hired you to make a fair assessment) can make good decisions based on reliable data.
However, as the writer, also remember that you have the power to select what information is
shared, depending on how relevant it is to the task. Giving too much information when a brief
summary of progress is all that is needed may lead to bad decisions as your superior gets too “in
the weeds.”
The reverse is also true – if you don’t tell them everything relevant, that may also lead to a bad
decision. Finding the appropriate moderate blend between “too much” and “too little” is the
major argumentative skill that professionals practice when writing progress reports.
Note that it can be useful to represent progress visually, especially on projects that have
complicated schedules and multiple milestones. A Gantt chart (instructions on how to make one
in the link) is particularly well suited for this job, if there are many dates and deadlines.
Scenario Five (Internal Affairs)
It’s 8:49 am on July 4, 2022.
There’s no word on what AMS thinks of the feasibility report yet, but Olivia has another job for
you. She insists on talking to you about it in person.
“As you’ve probably noticed, there are only six of us here at Prima Facie,” she says. “And really,
most of us haven’t been coming in during the pandemic. And I understand we’re never going
back to everyone in the office every day. The cat is out of the bag there, even with everyone
vaccinated. I’ve not required anyone to come in yet. But I’m worried we’re going to lose too
much cohesion if we’re not seeing each other. I don’t feel comfortable mandating office time,
even on a flex basis, when it isn’t strictly necessary, but I do feel we need to see each other
regularly. Any ideas?”
The two of you brainstorm a few possibilities.
A weekly two-hour lunch for all six employees, catered by Prima Facie. “The cost is
negligible,” she says. “Maybe a few hours will be enough. But I don’t want us to be a
lunch club.”
Everyone comes in for work on one day (the same day) each a week. “That could work.
It’s more modest than flex time. I doubt anyone will object. But finding the right day
might be a problem. Friday’s out. Maybe Tuesday?”
Two days in the office. “That probably won’t cause a revolt. Probably.”
Flex time, twenty hours in the office every week, arranged in advance. “I’d like that, but I
also have a feeling the schedule is going to look like Swiss cheese after a month, and it
might mean only one or two of us is ever here at the same time.”
Three days in the office, two out of the office, as needed. “That’s almost perfect for
resolving the issue, but I doubt David would settle for it.”
Arthur is Prima Facie’s oldest continuing employee, handles the financials, and is extremely
competent. Olivia mentions that he wants to work from home from now on, but she must balance
what he wants with what she can offer everyone else. But she is also worried he, and possibly
others, might leave if she institutes any kind of required office time.
The other three employees are Nathan, Samantha, and Jacqueline. Samantha has small children
and would prefer working from home entirely. Nathan has expressed interest in coming in only
occasionally. Jacqueline and Olivia are slowly moving back to 30+ hours in the office. You note,
however, that Olivia never mentions a specific need (other than socialization) for any of these
people to be in the office on any given day.
“We’re not to solve this problem at this meeting,” Olivia finishes. “But I want to you write up a
internal proposal, addressed to me, for resolving this issue. My only requirement is that you
propose some required face-to-face time for all employees. I leave it to you how much and when
and the details. As the new employee, you have a better shot at being seen as neutral to everyone.
We’ll present it to everyone as fodder for discussion, and then I’ll make the call.”
Option A: Write a proposal that presents a specific, long-term plan for office attendance at
Prima Facie.
You can use any of the brainstormed ideas or supply your own. Olivia has given you
considerable leeway.
Consider the politics of your proposal. This could go poorly if you are not diplomatic.
Also, Olivia could either position your proposal as a solution or as a foil for her own.
The “Proposal Tips” document in Assignments will help you with formatting your
Option B: Write a proposal that presents a specific, long-term plan that allows all
employees at Prima Facie to come in as much or as little as they’d like.
This is not what Olivia asked for. In fact, it’s the one thing she didn’t want you to do.
However, it might be the best long-term plan, especially if you contrast it against the
other ideas.
Like in Option A, consider the politics of your proposal. This could go poorly if you are
not diplomatic. Also, Olivia could either position your proposal as a solution or as a foil
for her own.
Due Date: July 9, 2022, at midnight. Submit your documents on BB as a single .doc or .docx
Scenario Five is not revisable. Proofread carefully. Think before you submit.
If you have any questions about this assignment, email me at duncanm@uhd.edu.
To: TCOM 3302
From: Mike Duncan
Subject: Cover Letters
A cover letter introduces the employer to the resume that follows. It is a valuable attempt to
personalize and humanize the often-impersonal application process and explain your resume
using brief stories and examples. Most professional employers expect some form of cover letter,
and the expectation is so strong that there is research that shows the mere presence of a cover
letter, regardless of its quality, improves the chances of landing an interview. Other positive
factors include a polite tone, an strong link between your skills and the position, and a moderate
length. One single-spaced page is an excellent length.
There are two major variants. The first variant has a ‘cold’ introduction, where you have not
contacted the addressee before; the second variant has a ‘warm’ introduction and begins with a
mention of previous contact – a phone call, a brief meeting, knowing someone who works there.
Full block format is advised for business letters. This means everything in the letter is leftjustified. This memo is left-justified, for example. Your book has an example of full-block
letter format on page 103. This format, including addresses, dates, and salutations, should be
followed closely (not because it is the best format, but because it is expected). Save your
creativity and style for the body of the letter.
Your letter should always be addressed to a specific person, rather than a generic Human
Resources representative, who may have little direct knowledge of the position other than its
status as open or closed. Finding out the right name may take a little detective work on your part,
but it’s worthwhile to do so.
Try to mimic the format of your resume by using similar fonts and sizes. Make them a
memorable matching pair. Assume that the version the employer receives will get separated from
the resume or poorly copied; it should be easy to match up to its partner.
Lastly, put yourself in the shoes of the employer and consider what they would want to read. At
minimum, you want to express clear interest in the position, knowledge about what they’re
looking for in particular (and that you are a good fit for what they’re looking for), as well as a
clear picture of your availability. It’s up to you how aggressive you want to be in the closing.
Some job seekers feel comfortable directly asking for an interview; others simply note that they
are available for one.
Make sure the letter is about what the employer wants – not what you want. They know what
you want – a good-paying job. There is no need to talk about your needs.

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