Draft a Cover Letter And Resume

Read Ch. 2 of Made to Stick

The first requirement of effective communication is getting attention, the second is keeping it. In order to do this you use the unexpected: Humans like to think in patterns, the key is to break these patterns. For example, when a flight attendant at Southwest does something different with the safety announcement.

In using the unexpected a key is to avoid gimmicky. For example, a Super Bowl ad once showed a marching band on a field, and then suddenly a pack of wolves came out of a tunnel and killed them. This was not connected with the ad’s message it all: The wolves didn’t reinforce the message.

So, a good process for making ideas sticker is: (1) Identify the central message you need to communicate — find the core; (2) Figure out what is counter-intuitive about the message — i.e., What are the unexpected implications of your core message? Why isn’t it already happening naturally? (3) Communicate your message in a way that breaks your audience’s guessing machines along the critical, counter-intuitive dimension. Then, once their guessing machines have failed, help them refine their machines.

A key is to always use a mystery story – even in science. As scriptwriters have learned curiosity is the intellectual need to answer questions and close patterns. Story plays to this universal desire by doing the opposite, posing questions and opening situations. So, they key is to open gaps first in presenting your ideas, then work to close them; the tendency is to give facts first. The local news uses this technique very well: They might bump with “There’s a new drug sweeping the teenage community — and it may be in your own medicine cabinet! The story after these ads.” More sophisticated version of this include a Sony engineer who visualized a “pocket radio” or JFK and his idea of “a man walking on the moon.” While these seem just like brilliant ideas, they are actually sticky: Both create surprise – radios are pieces of furniture, not something for a pocket; and men don’t walk on the moon. Both create insight. Rather than leading us along a plodding route from one incremental step to the next, the ideas give us a sudden, dramatic glimpse of how the world might unfold. And not just how, but why.

Getting attention with the unexpected A TV commercial for the new Enclave minivan started as a typical car commercial: Announcer describes all its new features as a happy family piles into car and drives away, then – bang – a speeding car plows into it. The screen fades to black: “Didn’t see that coming? No one does.” It was seatbelt or safety ad instead of a car ad.

Using the unexpected Nora Ephron’s journalism teacher announced their first assignment: To write the lead for the student paper. He give them facts: Entire school faculty will travel to the state capital on Tuesday for a meeting with the Governor, Margaret Mead, etc. He asked them then to write the lead. They all missed it: No school on Tuesday!

Creating gaps Roone Arledge at ABC noted that most sporting events where done in a “facts first” way: The cameras started on the field and waited for things to happen. He called it “like looking at the Grand Canyon through a peephole.” He changed the shows to feature the stadium, and the town preparing for the game, etc. He created “gaps” that made people not from the area interested in the outcome from the game.

Summary by Bill Hammack, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering University of Illinois, Urbana, IL



Read Resume and Cover Letter Assignment

During next several weeks we will be focusing on building your career networking skills through a number of interrelated assignments–

  1. Drafting a resume  
  2. Drafting a cover letter
  3. Evaluating candidates (Team Project)

For your first assignment, you are to develop a resume and cover letter for a mock analyst internship position that I created based on the KSA’s that define the profile of a candidate by the College of Business and Economics  (see. Position Announcement). As such, you are required to custom tailor the content of your resume and cover letter to the preferred knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) described. 

Position Announcement – Towson Cornerstone Group, LLC is Now Hiring: Analysts
Towson Cornerstone Group, LLC is now hiring for a business analyst internship position. If you have a background in accounting, e-business, business administration, and/or economics, then we want you to join the TCG team! As an analyst, you will learn to provide critical guidance to our executive consultants. If you have a good attitude, a willingness to work hard and learn, then TCG is the right place for you. Apply today!
Preferred knowledge, skills, and abilities–

  • Communication (Written & Oral)
    • Write articulate, persuasive and influential reports, proposals, letters
    • Make articulate, persuasive and influential oral presentations
    • Develop graphics, spreadsheet, and business analyses to support position taken
    • Engage in active listening in individual and group settings
  • Leadership & Teamwork
    • Focus on goal achievement
    • Guide team toward the achievement of common goals
    • Maintain group cohesion, satisfaction, and efficient operations
  • Critical Thinking: Critical and Creative
    • Identify problems and/or opportunities using disciplinary concepts
    • Generate and evaluate feasible alternatives
    • Develop comprehensive, justified conclusions and recommendations using qualitative and/or quantitative tools
  • Technology
    • Intermediate proficiency in Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
    • Intermediate proficiency in using online research tools/databases

Unparalleled benefits–

  • Gain experience solving interesting business problems
  • Apply your writing, presentation, and teamwork skills
  • Earn an opportunity to be hired as a business analyst

To apply contact–
Mr. Christopher Thacker
8000 York Road, Stephens Hall 301 M
Towson, Maryland 21252

​ For additional information on developing a resume and cover letter, including tips, tutorials and templates, please visit the Towson University Career Center website: http://www.towson.edu/careercenter/students/skills/index.asp.

You will be evaluated demonstrating your ability to–

  • Convey your knowledge, skills, and abilities
  • Produce high quality documents (error-free prose)
  • Demonstrate your features (resume) and corresponding benefits (cover letter)
  • Use appropriate structure for the given rhetorical situation


Wednesday, June 6th, 2018


Read Ch. 3 of Made to Stick

Chapter 3 – Concrete
​Of the six traits of “stickiness” described in this book being concrete is the easiest to accept and implement. (The hardest is likely finding the core message.) The power of being concrete is illustrated by the longevity of Aesop’s fables. For some 2,500 years they have resonated and been remembered by humankind. They are a striking example of concreteness. For example, the story of the fox and the grapes ends with with the fox concluding that grapes out of his reach are likely sour — hence the phrase “sour grapes”, which appears in nearly every language. This provides a concrete image which lasts: Compare “sour grapes” to the conclusion “don’t be such a bitter jerk when you fail.” The latter has no staying power: It is a naked fact.

Something becomes concrete when it can be described or detected by the human senses. A V-8 engine is concrete; “high-performance” is abstract. Concrete ideas are easy to remember. Experiments have shown that people remember concrete over abstract nouns: “bicycle” over “justice” or “personality.” The kidney-heist urban legend, for example, has tons of detail about the illicit procedure.

This illustrates that the “curse of knowledge” is the main enemy of being concrete. The main difference between an expert and novice is the ability of the expert to see things abstractly. For example, the difference in reaction between a judge and a jury: The jury sees all the concrete aspects of a trial – the lawyers’ clothing, manner, the specific procedures in a classroom; the judge sees all in terms of legal precedent and the lessons of the past. Novices perceive concrete detail as concrete detail; an expert sees concrete details as symbols of a pattern.

Two examples of being concrete (a) Movie popcorn contains 20 g fat; this is too abstract, say, instead contains more fat than a bacon-and-eggs dinner, a Big Mac, and fries for lunch and a steak dinner will all the trimmings – combined. (b) A simple mixture of salts and sugar – oral rehydration therapy (ORT) – in water can save lives in the developing world. Instead of giving facts and figures about how many can be saved, its promoter carries with him a packet of the power and whips it out to, say, a group of Prime Ministers and says “Do you know that this costs less than a cup of tea and it can save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives in your country?”

Summary by Bill Hammack, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering University of Illinois, Urbana, IL



Write Your Resume Using Template

Tonight, I want you to begin drafting your resume. Your resume is essentially a list of features that you will later translate into tangible benefits in your cover letter and mock interview. A resume is used as the gatekeeper for job applicants, so it is crucial that you develop a resume that custom tailored for the job that you are applying for. In this, case the job requires that have the KSAs outlined from the CBE profile of a graduate. 

To begin, please download a copy of the resume template (see. Below). Using your KSA’s worksheet as a guide, I want you create a resume based on your knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to the ones posted to the job announcement (CBE profile of a graduate). 

In order to help you draft your resume, I created a brief video entitled, Resume Review. I created this video as a walk-through of the template. The video contains some additional insights including common issues that seen from previous submissions of the assignment. Additionally, I provided an annotated resume that describes the best practices for resume development (see. Below)

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