Writing Job Applications – Resumes and Cover Letters

Learning Outcome

  • Prepare evidence to enhance employment opportunities

Background

Most students will be required to prepare a cover letter and resume at some stage in their career. Developing a resume can provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their program learning and external activities (work, extra-curricular activities) and present themselves as an industry professional. The suggested activities focus on looking at applications as dynamic documents that need to be continually updated with content tailored to the criteria for specific roles.

The decision about when to deliver this topic will depend on a range of issues. Consideration should be given to:

  • WIL activities – Are students required to seek out their own WIL activity? Do students generally need a cover letter and resume to apply for these positions? Consider relevant recruitment cycles for WIL positions when planning the timing of when these topics should be delivered.
  • Graduate Programs – Do organisations offer formal graduate programs for graduates of your program? Applications for these programs usually open in March for final year students. It may therefore be too late to cover this content in the final semester of the program.

Activities

The content around delivery of these topics could be done in a variety of ways. The topics of resume writing and cover letter writing could be delivered separately or combined into one activity and delivered in in flipped classroom format. There is an assumption that students have already undertaken learning activities around sourcing job vacancies/opportunities.

Suggested activities include:

1 Pre-class Activity:

  • Students should be given access to view resources on resume writing  and writing a cover letter and PDF document Working on Professional Skills. This could be done outside the classroom.

In-class Activity:

  • Group Discussion:
    • Key messages students got from the online learning resources
    • The role of a selection panel/person i.e. to select the person that best matches the criteria the organisation has identified in the job advertisement and/or position description
    • Form students into groups representing a selection panel. Provide them with a job advertisement/position description relevant to the discipline area and 3 applications.
    • Give the panels 30 minutes to assess the application documents and agree on ranking of candidates
    • Groups present to the class their ranking and justifications and then debrief
  • Discussion:
    • What did you learn from this activity
    • How and where in application documents can students highlight their program learning?
    • How and where in application documents can students highlight their external activities (eg extra-curricular activities, work experience, sports, community activities, volunteer activities)
  • Assessment:
    • Students source a job vacancy/opportunity of interest to them.
    • Prepare a resume and cover letter for the position
    • Submit position description/job advertisement and application for assessment

Further resources

Further reading

  • Bright, J., Earl, J., Winter, D., (2010) How to Write a Brilliant CV. Pearson Education Ltd. 5th
  • Bright, J., Earl, J., Winter, D., (2013) Brilliant Graduate CV: How to Get Your First CV to the Top of the Pile. Pearson Education Ltd. 1st

Mode

Flipped classroom

Time

Up to one hour

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