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Technical Writing by Phillip A. Laplante

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87
5
Business Communications
5.1 Introduction
In addition to writing documents that are particular to your technical disci-
pline, you will have to prepare memos, nontechnical reports, agendas, meet-
ing minutes, business plans, resumés, cover letters, and so forth. Most of the
topics in this chapter are generic. For example, a good resufollows the
same principles regardless of your profession. Your preparation of standard
business communications will be greatly enhanced, however, by under-
standing several ne points that are particular to the technical professional.
5.2 Resumés
The resumé is perhaps the most personal of business communications. Your
resuand cover letter may be the two most important technical documents
that you will ever prepare. An excellent resumé and cover letter can unlock
a better job and increased earning potential.
I have reviewed hundreds of resumés for technology and business profes-
sionals as a project manager, technology executive, department chair, dean,
and college president. I can assure you that a great resumé does not guaran-
tee that you will get hired—you have to sell yourself during the interview
and afterward. While a great resumé may lead to an interview, a bad resumé
will surely preclude an interview.
Common elements of a resumé include (items in boldface type are essential)
1. Name
2. Contact information
3. Summary
4. Statement of Objective
88 Technical Writing: A Practical Guide for Engineers and Scientists
5. Experience
6. Education/Training
7. Licenses and Certications
8. Consulting
9. Hardware and software
10. Foreign languages
11. Security clearance
12. Military and other service
13. Awards and honors
14. Publications
15. Afliations
16. Interests
17. References
There are other possible areas to list in a resumé, particularly in highly
specialized professions, but the aforementioned elements are common. Of
course, if you have nothing to list under an area, omit the header—dont list
the header followed by a blank line or “none.
Resumés should be short. I prefer a resumé that ts on one side of a sheet
of paper, although for a long job history, that might be difcult to achieve.
Hiring managers tend to get turned off by resumés that span more than two
pages. You can always reduce the size of the resuby deferring certain ele-
ments to separate attachments, for example, the lists of references, publica-
tions, hardware, and software. Let’s explore some hints for preparing each
element of a resumé.
5.2.1 Name
The main issue in listing your name is whether to be formal or informal.
There is a difference between “Fred Blogand “Mr. Frederick J. Blog, III.
Informality connotes approachability and modesty, but it also can imply
carelessness and laxity. Formality has the connotation of seriousness and
power, although it also suggests vanity and detachment.
Listing your name informally is more appropriate for certain jobs, for
example, Technical Support or Installer. The formal version is more appro-
priate for a senior management position. When in doubt, or if the decision
could go either way, I would opt for the formal name without a salutation: for
example, “Frederick J. Blog, III.
I list my credentials next to my name (see my resuin Section 5.2.21).
You should list your credentials too if they are important to the job under
consideration.

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