english 402

[+] | [-]

Professional & Technical Writing


25% of course grade


Look for a job you are currently interested in or one that you want to apply for upon graduation.

Don't just bookmark it--copy and paste it for continued reference.

This course asks you to read, analyze, and respond to issues of technical and professional writing.

If your text hasn't prepared you to respond to the rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, text) and its role in the production of various communication through design, layout, visual appeal, ethical considerations, usability, and document genre, you should "google" for more info on these topics. Use your rhetorical skills to weigh the information you find and to learn more about these important core conecepts.

Next, you'll apply these concepts to the Professional Documents portfolio.

Project Goals

Instruction in Technical and Professional Writing is concentrated around five core-concepts, which provide students with the theoretical foundations needed to analyze workplace practices and develop documentation (print and digital) for a variety of communication situations. These core concepts include:

  • Rhetorical Analysis - write for a range of defined audiences and stakeholders
  • Document Design - make rhetorical design decisions about workplace documents implementing design principles of font, format and layout
  • Editing for Clarity & Conciseness - Draft, research, test, and revise visual designs and information architecture
  • Genres of Workplace Writing - understand and adapt to genre conventions and audience expectations
  • Workplace Practices & Collaboration - Understand, develop and deploy various strategies for planning, researching, drafting, revising, and editing documents both individually and collaboratively

Project Deliverables

Hint: Do this in conjunction with the "Analyze This" activity on page 405, which asks for a similar search and analysis.

1, Job ad analysis
 – using your skills in rhetorical analysis (see chapter 1 of your textbook) and of researching and evaluating sources (chapter 6), locate a job ad or internship and follow the guidelines on the job ad analysis form.

REMEMBER: SAVE THE AD! Don't just bookmark it--copy and paste it for continued reference. These listings don't stay up long and you'll need your ad to do the analysis.


2. Application cover letter
– the job application letter is as critical to your efforts to secure a job as the résumé itself. Your letter should be no longer than one or two pages (one is preferable in most cases), following the principles and samples discussed in chapter 13, and the information on job application cover letters in chapter 14 (pp. 425-427). Your letter should be context-specific and should contain the required five parts (heading, greeting, opening, persuasion, closing) as discussed in your text.

3., Résumé
- It is critical that you shape your résumé to the specific job or internship you have chosen to apply for (that it is suited to the context), so be sure to include only the relevant aspects of your professional experience. Also, your writing needs to be error-free, concise, and presented in an easily readable format. 

4. Project assessment (reflection)
- your 500-word project assessment document should answer most of the following questions, each of which is tied to the major goals of the assignment:


Rhetorical analysis – How did the particular job you applied for affect how you wrote your letter? Did it change or affect how you presented yourself? How did applying for this position help you understand aspects of your experience you might need to develop more?

Document design – What is the most effective aspect of your deliverables in terms of presentation or design? Have you deliberately adapted a standard form in an unusual or creative way? If so, why?

Editing for clarity and conciseness – What was the most challenging document to produce and why? Briefly describe and explain one of the significant revisions you made to this document after your initial draft.

Genres of workplace writing – What genres for each deliverable did you select? Why?

Workplace practices and collaboration – How well did you plan your work on this project? What might you have done differently? What was one way that peer feedback helped you improve your work? How did responding to the work of others help you improve your own work?


In order to participate in the peer review (which is required), your portfolio draft should be posted to the correct discussion forum as a PDF attachment(s) with a message that explains the nature of the attachment and invites peer feedback. You may choose to ask specific questions of your reviewers if you have specific concerns.

Read these directions for converting your documents to PDF format if you have any questions about the process.


The Résumé portfolio is worth 25% of your course grade. The breakdown for each of its components is as follows:

  • Job Ad Analysis (20%)
  • Application Cover Letter (30%)
  • Résumé (30%)
  • Project Assessment Document (20%)

Grading Criteria
When grading your project, I will pay particular attention to see whether you have effectively adapted your documents to the job for which you have applied. Your writing will need to be precise, accurate, and well-suited to the context (the job/field) and to the rhetorical occasion (in terms of tone, style, and content). In this case, a generic, catchall résumé and cover letter will not satisfy the requirements of the project.


Submitting Your Work and Getting Credit

All four documents must be submitted as PDF files. If you can combine the entire portfolio into 1 pdf, all the better. Send the portfolio in a single email to me at suzanne.webb@wsu.edu.. SEE MAKING PDFs

Attention: Make sure you use apprpropriate file naming conventions for each document. For example, your resume should be: lastname_resume.pdf (using your own last name, of course).



Creating Professional Documents

The one takaway that students get doing this assignment is a solid start on their professional documents. These documents are yours to keep and use and get jobs with. The harder you work on these pieces now, the better they will serve you on the job market. Whether you're hunting for a career right this minute, or after spring graduation, or next year, consider making these docuemnts tell the true story of who you are and who you'll be for your prospective employers.

Job Analysis
One of the best ways to approach this assignment is to use a real world job ad. Each time you respond to an ad, your professional documents need to be tailored, specifically, to it. It’s true, you really can’t have a blanket letter and resume. They really must be tailored specifically to individual ads.

There are several ways to do this, I’m sure. I will give you the process that I’m most familiar with.

Locate an ad that you would like to respond to. Analyze that ad for specific KEYWORDS --- these are words in the ad that you see as important to the prospective employer. You will use these KEYWORDS in your own letter and even in your resume.

Key: Make your materials FIT that ad!

It's time to think about your resume and letter as "living" documents. They need to be "tended." Tend to them (tweak them) for specific job ads, using some of the key words in that ad. Keep a file that is a master resume to work from. I'm asking you to do a resume and letter for a specific job ad.





Authentic Jobs

Krop Jobs

Career Builder

Austin Writing Jobs

indeed.com (MY FAV)







Letters of Application

Follow this link:
WRITING BUSINESS LETTERS (<--- a guide to form)

These letters should have 3 "chunks" (paragraphs / sections)
1) your desire          2) your fit     3) your experience

The first chunk describes your interests in that particular position. You'll want to state specifically which position you are applying for. Chunk 2 will describe why you fit that company (perhaps because of other work you've done. You can "tell a story" (share a specific example) to discuss your fit. Chunk 3 will discuss your experience thus far and experience you feel you can gain from employment with this firm.


DO NOT WRITE TO "To whom it may concern" ... or ... "Director of HR"... etc.,You MUST write to a specific person.

This info may be available on their website, and if not, you can simply call the company, ask for human resources, then ask:

"To whom should I address my application packet for the xyz position?"

WRITE A "STANDARD BUSINESS LETTER" a standard business letter---addressed, dated, single-spaced... Look up several examples on Google if you'd like visuals. Check your textbook for examples.

Use the JOB AD ANALYSIS GUIDE from above and tailor your letter and resume TO that specific job ad.

Writing this type of letter will set you apart in the pool of applicants.





Check this out!

"Potential Employer Critiques
Applicant's Cover Letter"

This will make you re-visit your cover letters!



Words to Use and Ways to Write:
Résumé Writing 101

Match your abilities (your skills) with the job ads. Always think in terms of skills. Maybe a brainstorming session with yourself about what skills you have would be a good way to get started.

Next, use those keywords in the job ad.

Then, cross reference the keywords with the WSU Guide to Resumes and/or the Berkeley Guide to Resumes. While I'm not a fan of the templates in Microsoft, you might want to at least give them a once-over too: Microsoft Resume Templates.

Lastly, begin to think in the following terms: Try to align your skills with action verbs (wrote, designed, implemented, managed, performed, etc.) that highlight your particular skillset. These action verbs are the words that will “jump off” your resume so that the hiring committee sees you (this will show your transferable skills and knowledge) in action.


These ACTION VERBS are also listed in both the WSU and the Berkeley Guides (linked above).

Listing and explaining the TASKS you did is most effective

  • Implemented
  • Orchestrated
  • Demonstrated
  • Organized
  • Directed
  • Participated
  • Led
  • Coordinated (teamwork)


  • Organized meetings for 14 separate community programs
  • Designed weekly newsletters
  • Coordinated with four classmates
  • Maintained customer files for 120-client office

Think about how some of your COURSEWORK can be used as well. You may have experience in school that can be listed/explained on your resumes as EXPERIENCE. Remember: Think in terms of SKILLS you possess.

The important thing for this assignment, again, is to match your resume and letter with the ad.

Think of your letter and your resume as LIVING documents --- ones that need tended to keep them fresh, up to date, and at their best. They need you to revisit and revise them, not just for this assignment, but as you progress with your schooling and your careers.

Resume Example 1

Also: do a google search for resumes. Take a look at 10. Sewhat appeals to YOU. What "fits" YOU. There are 1000s of good examples (and 1000s of bad examples). Search around and see what looks like it will work for YOU. Read through the guides linked below.

A helpful guide to formatting resumes in Word for upload to online application systems (from Career Builder). Click on this image for full-sized text:




Seek assistance from other people you know working on these documents, other job seekers. Seek assistance from your Writing Center, or from the Career Services department at your school. Ask for and get feedback! Your future depends on an excellent appplication packet; take whatever steps you can to ensure your materials are excellent.






NC State's Resume and Cover Letters Guide

OWL @ Purdue Resume Workshop

Berkeley's Resume Center
2 videos and a 20+page guide