Note: Instructors can ask students to follow this entire four-part sequence or jump to specific assignments within the sequence:
For this assignment series, you will create a collection of professional documents that you could use in your future job searches. You will complete each of the assignments below over the
course of our semester.
Whether you already have a version of a resume or you are building one for the first time, this professional document can be a challenge, but it is likely the single most important document you’ll write for your career—and one you’ll revise frequently for the rest of your professional life. (Note: We will discuss the genre of the resume in class.)
- Start by reading the Purdue OWL Resume Writing Workshop. Then find and read at least four additional credible online resources for resume writing.
- Draft your resume, considering the advice you read, our class discussion, and any other samples you’ve seen. Think hard about the language, “look,” and layout of your resume as they relate to your goals. For instance, do you want to be a designer in some capacity? Your resume might look different from someone hoping to go into engineering. What does your ideal employer hope to find in an employee? In what ways can you demonstrate these skills? (Note: Down the line, you will likely have different versions of your resume for different job applications—each emphasizing those features of your skills and experiences most relevant to that particular job—but you should have one “general” version for your field. This is the one you’ll write here and use for your website below.)
- Gather feedback on your document from at least two people. One should be a classmate from this class. The other might be a Writing Center consultant or—even better—a Career Services advisor, or they might be a professional in the field you wish to pursue.
- Synthesize the feedback you received in a paragraph or two. (You’ll need this below!).
- Consider what feedback is useful and what is less useful. Revise into a “final” version.
Strong written communication skills are highly sought after in the professional world, and while many new graduates are preparedas writers, they often have trouble convincing potential employers of their writing skills for a simple reason: They don’t have appropriate writing samples. For this assignment, you must find (or create) three writing samples suitable to submit to a potential employer. There should be some variety in your samples. Including one piece of academic writing is fine (perhaps a history essay you’re particularly proud of, or a paper you wrote in for a political communications class), but the other two should be “professional,” as this is the type of writing employers are looking to see you demonstrate. Professional documents might include a proposal, some types of reports, memos, a formal letter, newsletters, organizational web writing, or others. (You should ask me if you’re not sure about a professional genre.) You absolutely may use revised work from this class as those professional writing samples if you think they represent your best work.
For each sample, you should write a brief “framing” sentence or two that provides an unfamiliar reader with some context about what it is they’re seeing. For example: “This is a press release about a new product launch that I had the opportunity to write in my 2019 internship at X company,” or “I wrote this set of instructions for a technical writing course in my third year of college. It demonstrates my ability to be clear, concise, and persuasive.”
Basic Personal-Professional Website
As new graduates, you should have a professional presence online. (This article—“Why Every Job Seeker Should Have a Personal Website, And What It Should Include”—does a good job at explaining why.) For this assignment, you will build this professional website for yourself.
How to Think About It
Your goal for this website is to obtain a job. I recommend building the site for your ideal post-graduation job, which means you’ll want to think about your dream (but still attainable) position and employer. You will write with this primary audience in mind. Read this article (“The Essential Components to a Great Personal Website”) to better understand why to build a personal professional website and how to approach it.
How to Build It
If you’ve never built a website, it might be a daunting task, but I promise it’s doable—and worth it! It’s important to be able to put together a very simple site for any number of professional reasons.
If you already know how to build a website, go at it! If not, I’d recommend using WordPress, which is a free and very easy to use simple site builder. You don’t need to know how to write code, and there are a variety of free templates available. There are about a million tutorials online, both from WordPress and from users, but I’d recommend starting with this one if it’s the first time you’re using it. If you get stuck, come see me and I’ll walk you through the basics! (And you only need the basics—I promise!) Please note that you are welcome to use another platform, but if you get stuck, I won’t be able to provide support.
What to Include
At a minimum, your site should include the following pages:
- A Homepage – this should offer a welcome and some basic information about you. Most people also choose to include a picture, but this isn’t necessary if you’d rather not.
- An “About” page – this page usually offers a brief summary of you as a professional and often a few appropriate personal details—think pets, hobbies, interesting facts.
- A “Resume” page – this tab should link to a PDF of your final resume.
- A “Writing Samples” or “Writing Portfolio” page – this is where you’ll upload and frame the samples you gathered and wrote above.
- A “Contact” page – this should include, at a minimum, your email address and, if you have one, a LinkedIn account. If your other social media is appropriate (or particularly relevant to your job hunting), include those links too.
How to Improve it
Get feedback on your site from two people. At least one of these needs to be a professional who’s been in the workforce post-college for at least five years. The other could be a friend, a Writing Center consultant, a Career Services advisor, or a classmate. After both rounds of feedback, revise your site. Synthesize the feedback you received in a paragraph or two. (You’ll need this below!).
Summary and Reflection
Write a 2-3 page summary and reflection on your process and products from these professional development activities. At the top of your document, please include a link to your site. On the site, I should be able to view your revised resume and other deliverables noted above. At a minimum, in your summary and reflection, you should answer the following questions: How did you approach the resume piece—what steps did you take? Did you already have a version or did you start from scratch? What resources did you read as you began writing or your resume? How did you approach the formatting and style? What was challenging or easy about drafting it? Who did you receive feedback on your resume from? What kinds of advice did you gain from each? Who was your intended audience for your website? Who provided website feedback? In both cases, what did they say, and what pieces of advice did you follow (or not), and why? How did you choose (or create) your writing samples? In what ways do you think your documents are successful? What needs more work, and why? Do you anticipate keeping the site up to date and actually using it? (It’s okay if the answer is no!) What are the most important things you learned through this series of assignments? Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about the process or your final documents?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.