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Nov 11 14

A new update: about the resumes/cover letters, informal reports, and formal recommendation reports

by Steve Krause

Watch the video, but let me give you a bit of an outline and some additional information about what I cover here:

About the resumes and cover letters: I commented on all of your resumes and cover letters.  Three things I talk about in the video:

  • A lot of the comments you all had on each others’ work I agreed with. Which again, should be pretty good evidence that your peers can give good advice too. It’s not just about me.
  • You’ve got to have a real job in mind for this assignment to work. I don’t think that’s true with everyone here. And as some tangents on this issue:
    • If you don’t feel like you have enough experience yet to apply for the kind of job you want after you finish your degree, then you should do things to try to get that experience.
    • Check out the job fair stuff coming up this Friday!
  • ONE PAGE! That’s it. This is especially true for the level of experience you all have and the  kinds of positions you’re all applying for. As a general rule of thumb, unless a) the potential employer specifically asks for a multipage resume that details everything you have done and/or b) you are applying for an advanced position and you can’t fit your 15+ years of professional experience on to one page. Then, and only then, more than one page might– might!– make sense. Also, in terms of the order of things: if you are applying for a job that requires a college degree (and I assume that’s the case for everyone), then your education probably should go first.
  • One more thing about resumes and cover letters, something I forgot to mention in the video: go back and look at the readings! I don’t know how accurate this is, but it kind of seems to me that a lot of you kind of ignored the advice we read and discussed on how to put together a resume and a cover letter. That’s obviously a problem in all kinds of different ways.
  • Final versions of the resumes and cover letters are due by the end of the day on Friday, November 14. Also, if you have thoughts on the process here– that is, me commenting like this before you turn in the final version– let me know what you think in the comments on this post.

About the informal reports: 

  • Peer review of the informal report assignment will start this coming Monday! I’ll set up groups over the weekend, though it will probably be the same peers as you just worked with for the resume/cover letter groups.
  • Remember that your informal report is supposed to be about an event that happened at EMU. If you are doing it about something else, you need to let me know about this!  The final version of these will be due on the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 24.

About the formal recommendation reports/progress updates:

  • Another progress report is due this Friday– post a link to them at the same place you posted them before!
  • One of the things you certainly should start doing for this project is research, both research about the proposal in general and on-campus research. I describe an example of what I mean in the video here.
  • One thing I didn’t mention in my video: some of you are working on proposal ideas that probably aren’t realistic given the money involved. Sure, $5 million is a lot of money, but it isn’t enough to build a new building on campus. Just to give you an idea: EMU has been wanting to remodel/refurbish Strong Hall for years, and they estimate that project as costing $48 million. So again, do some research, ask some questions, etc.

About that job fair on Friday!


Here’s a link to all the employers who are going to be there. Note the large number of employers willing and able to talk to folks from “All Majors.”

Nov 9 14

Talking about the “micropresentations” for the formal recommendation reports

by Steve Krause

Lots of stuff going on here! I’m planning on getting started on commenting on your resumes and cover letters first thing Monday– and remember, I changed the deadline so the final version of this assignment is due by the end of the day Friday of this week. Also, I took a look at everyone’s first progress report for the formal recommendation report assignment and made a few brief comments. If you have other questions about that, by all means ask, both me and your classmates. And by the way, if you haven’t completed this progress report yet and/or are still struggling with coming up with an idea of some sort, let me know.

Now, one of the things I’m doing differently this semester is the “micropresentation” part of the assignment. Here’s how I describe it in the assignment itself:

Each of you will also prepare and share a “micropresentation,” which will be a short (no more than 3 minutes) video where you give the “elevator pitch” version of your report’s recommendation and proposal. Both the report and the micropresentation will be posted and be available for everyone in the class to review.

And, as I also point out in the assignment, you can of course help each other out on this part of the assignment, along with all the other parts of the assignment too.

So, what are these micropresentations all about? Well, I haven’t done this part of the assignment before, so part of what I hope is we can talk about how this might all work. A couple of thoughts to get things going here:

  • If this were a normal, “face to face” class, you would each give brief presentations in class about your projects. This is more or less a substitute for that sort of experience.
  • Basically, what I was imagining here was something along the lines of a videoed “elevator pitch,” which is a short (and rehearsed!) summary of something– a product, a service, or, in this case, your proposal. I was imagining that perhaps you could video a presentation of yourself at your computer, sort of like what I do for class once in a while. Then we can all watch these short videos and use that as part of the decision-making process on reviewing your entire recommendation report.
  • But I also think that this micropresentation might also include something along the lines of a Powerpoint presentation with some narration to it. It takes a little technical expertise (though not a lot), but you could potentially turn a slide show into a “movie.”
  • Regardless of how you record it, the easiest way to share your videos is going to be with YouTube. And yes, that means that you will be posting your video in a “public space,” but since the link to the video will be shared on this web site (which is password protected) and since there are many hours of video uploaded to YouTube every second, I really wouldn’t worry about it being viewed by anyone outside of our class. Uploading things to YouTube is really easy, but if you want to know more about how to do it, ask me and/or your classmates.
  • Remember that the goal here is to “sell” your proposal to me and to your classmates. You want to convince us to look more into your proposal and to ultimately vote for you. Because also remember: there is a competition element to all of this! The top five proposal ideas will receive “As” on this project, and I have to think that some of that will be based in part on the quality of these presentations.

Okay, so what do you think? What questions do you have? Any ideas for how to make these presentations?

Nov 6 14

Formal Recommendation Reports: Progress Report and Peer Review Groups

by Steve Krause

I know you’re all busy with the peer review for the resume and cover letter assignment (remember! peer review for that finishes up on Friday of this week!) and you are also probably getting ready to do the write-up for your informal reports as well (we will start peer review on that assignment on Monday, November 17). But also in the mix right now is the progress reports for the formal recommendation reports. And along with that, I am also going to set up peer review groups for this project. Read more below.

read more…

Nov 4 14

Resume and Cover Letter Assignment Peer Review: the groups and the survey

by Steve Krause

Here’s where we’ll kick off the peer review for the resume and cover letter assignment. Read on, but as I talk about in that video on the schedule, I’ve changed the schedule for this slightly so now peer review on this project begins this Wednesday and finishes this Friday. Then I will chime in and offer my thoughts on each of your projects before you turn everything in to me on Friday, November 14. Read on!

read more…

Nov 4 14

A video about the changes in the schedule and how the rest of the term will unfold

by Steve Krause

Here’s a short video I made about the changes in the schedule, the changes in peer review for the last projects, and a few thoughts about the formal recommendation report. Take a look at it!

Nov 2 14

Talking about readings for “formal reports”

by Steve Krause

First off, here is a Prezi presentation on different kinds of reports that I think is handy resource which compares the different kinds of reports we’ve been talking about this term. I think it’s worth looking through to get started.

Second, take a look at “Report Design” from David A. McMurrey, which is his part of his online textbook where he explains/exemplifies formal reports. Not unlike informal reports, the specific definition/parts of the report vary, of course. I think McMurrey lays out the parts fairly clearly (which is why I’d like everyone to read this over), but there are other points of comparison, too.

Now, for our purposes specifically, some things you’ll need to do and some things you won’t need to worry about as much for your group’s report:

  • These will be published/available on Google Docs, so obviously the stuff about binding and labeling and such doesn’t make sense. I would suggest an attractive “cover/title page” though.
  • I think a short transmittal letter is useful, and I would address it to the entire group. Remember, each of your peers will be reviewing and voting on these proposals.
  • You should have what McMurrey calls an “informative abstract” and what I’ve seen others call an “executive summary.” I think the term executive summary is fairly self-explanatory: basically, this is a summary that is detailed enough so that if this was all “the boss” read, that boss would have the basic idea about the report: what it’s about, what it’s conclusions are, etc.
  • I don’t think you will need a summary of illustrations and charts, but a simple “table of contents” is a good idea.
  • Of course, your report is essentially an essay, so it’ll include the usual parts of an essay– an introduction, the main body, a conclusion, etc.  McMurrey and other sources tend to emphasize the importance of section headings within formal reports, and I agree with that too. You want to create a report that is both readable and scannable.
  • You will  need to have some kind of “works cited” kind of section, and yes, this will require research and it will also require two slightly different kinds of research. Most of you are probably already familiar with the category of research I will generalize as “looking stuff up:” you know, a google search, the library, etc. You will certainly need to do this, but since this is a project that is very specifically about EMU, you will also as a group need to do some very local research here at EMU. That might involve contacting people on campus, it might involve some observations on campus, etc., etc.

Okay: so, what do you think?

Oct 30 14

Introducing the formal report and a few other bits of news

by Steve Krause

It’s been available on the web site for a while now, but here’s where we can start talking about the formal report and recommendation assignment. The first critical thing about this project is read it carefully. Next week, we’ll start talking a bit more about “formal reports” and “recommendation reports,” though there are some specific things with this assignment and how we’re pursuing it that will cause us to deviate a bit from some of the online advice.

Two other things for now:

  • I’m a bit behind in grading for a variety of reasons, including my preparations for an academic conference I’ll be attending tomorrow at Michigan State. Not a good mix for Halloween, but there you have it. Anyway, my hope is to have comments back on the instructions by next Wednesday, but it might be a day or two later. Oh, a slight update: I did post participation grades for everyone though. You should have received an email response from me about that.
  • I’ve been reading through some of your answers on the midterm review of the peer review process and I think I want to try to do a couple things different with the remaining peer reviews for this semester.
    • First off, it is still important to me as a teacher that you receive feedback from your peers, that you carefully offer feedback to your peers, and that you pay close attention to these responses. A couple of you said things along the lines of “I would prefer just getting the teacher’s responses” or “I don’t care what my peers said” and I steadfastly refuse to change my approaches there. As I said at the beginning of the term, to be successful in this writing class (and really, in all writing classes) you have to try to write to an audience beyond just the teacher! Trust me on this.
    • However, I understand where some of you are coming from here, and I can also see how the surveys might end up being more “busy-work” like than they need to be. So here’s what I’m going to do for the peer reviews for the rest of the term (and I’ll explain more about this later, too). First, you will comment on each others’ projects; then, after you are done with that but before you hand them in, I will follow and offer similar comments on each of your projects. The goal here is for me to offer you some advice before I grade them so that you have some guidance on the revisions to make before you turn your projects in. But in taking the time to do this early commenting, I won’t have time to write as much in terms of detailed end comments. Seem like a deal?
Oct 28 14

Discussing Diaz’s “Updating Best Practices: Applying On-Screen Reading Strategies to Resume Writing”

by Steve Krause

This is where we’ll talk about “Updating Best Practices: Applying On-Screen Reading Strategies to Résumé Writing” by Charlsye Smith Diaz. I think it’s a pretty straight-forward piece, but I want to mention two other things that might put this essay in some context:

  • There are a lot of “stunts” and other kind of “out there” examples of alternative resumes nowadays. Just do a search for “unusual resumes” and you’ll see what I mean; here’s a link to a whole bunch of examples from Smashing Magazine, which is a magazine and web site about graphic and web design. While these might be kind of fun and interesting, Diaz’s research suggests these aren’t a good way to get a job.
  • “F Pattern” reading is something that is kind of a big deal in web design and has been for a long time. Again, that’s something you can look up with a search, but I think the illustrations in Diaz’s essay show what she means by all that pretty clearly.

For me, Diaz earns a lot of credibility because this essay is based on her studying of the advice of lots of other textbooks and resources, which means she’s summing up some different points of view and also showing how this advice has changed or remained the same over the years. My sense is that what she’s saying about scannable resumes is spot on: that is, while most resumes will be read on the screen and should be formatted that way (her advice on this is really good), most employers don’t use machines to read resumes. The one exception to that is sites like, where employers tend to do searchers based on key word terms. Of course, those sites also ask you to note key terms when you sign up looking for a position.

I also think the “F Pattern” advice is interesting to think about, especially as it either compliments or conflicts with the historic advice on active nouns and verbs and also on the placement of objective statements. Some of what she’s saying here is probably a bit debatable, but still worth thinking about.

All of which is to say that when it comes to resume writing, the little things really matter– the layout, the font, the exact wording, etc., etc.

What do you all think?

Oct 26 14

Getting into lots of short readings on resumes and cover letters

by Steve Krause

Let’s push into the readings on writing/creating a resume and a cover letter. There are a fair number of readings here, but they are all short and pretty straight-forward. And don’t forget– suggest some of your own here, too!

First, the Purdue OWL has a lot if very useful readings on resumes here:

Lots of good advice here and the stuff that I think gets overlooked the most by students creating resumes (and actually, this goes for almost everyone who aren’t students too) is the design of a resume: sensible fonts, white space, balance, etc., etc., layout that is all important because most resumes are “scanned,” either by someone looking through them very quickly or by a machine.

In the “old days,” the only kind or resume that anyone ever really wrote/taught was the chronological resume. This briefly explains some alternative ways to organize experience, and it seems to me that a lot of these alternative resume styles are especially useful for folks who don’t necessarily have a ton of experience.

Here’s a slideshow that the folks in EMU’s University Advising and Career Development Center, a service/center that in my experience is kind of under-utilized by a lot of students, especially in fields like English. Beyond just this assignment (and they can help with things like suggesting internships and suggesting ways to change your resume), this really is a place that should be a part of your “beyond college” job search.

Oct 25 14

Instruction Peer Review Survey Results, Review of Reviewers, Overall Peer Review Survey and CHANGE OF DEADLINE

by Steve Krause

Here’a link to the peer review survey for the instructions assignment:

As has been the case before, find your name in the first column, your reviewer’s name in the second, and take a look at what they said.  Then when you’re done with that, fill out a “review of the reviewers” survey for this project here:

Three more important things!

  • Since we’re just about at halfway through the term here so far, I thought this might be a good chance to get some feedback from you about the peer review process. So to do that, I’ve constructed a very simple survey here: It’s an anonymous form, so be honest– though be constructive. The goal is to make the peer review process better, and I think your honest feedback can help.
  • I am changing the due date of the instructions! It occurs to me that I am not going to have time to begin reading and commenting on your instructions until Thursday at the earliest anyway, so I am moving the deadline for this assignment to Wednesday. If you finish it sooner than that, of course that is fine too.
  • But even with the changed deadline, we’re still pressing on with the other readings and assignments, and note on the schedule that I added a reading we’ll be discussing on Wednesday, “Updating Best Practices: Applying On-Screen Reading Strategies to Résumé Writing” by Charlsye Smith Diaz.