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English Detective #39, Job hunting 101: May 20, 2014
May 20, 2014

The current investigation (Introducing this issue):

As the school year finishes and many students think about summer (or more-permanent) jobs, English Detective looks at job hunting and applications. There’s an article with suggestions for writing a cover letter to go with a job (or university) application, and a TED talk on the ways our body language affects us and can increase or decrease our confidence (Including during a job search.)

The Psychology Today article on cover letters suggests NOT starting to write at the beginning. Instead, review the information on your resume or CV, then write out your life story as it happened. Once you have the outline down on paper, revise it to make your points as clearly as possible, write a great ending, and then write the beginning paragraph.

This article is no longer available online, but the suggestions on writing a compelling cover letter are still good ones. There are also links to information on writing, revising, and proofreading in the practice section of this newsletter.

Amy Cuddy shares fascinating research about how small changes in the way we stand or sit can make big differences in our lives. She and other researchers have found that even two minutes of private “power poses” (open, expansive poses instead of huddling and making ourselves as small as possible) can increase our confidence, change hormone and stress levels, and enable far more effective responses to difficult situations. (That includes job interviews-- which they used to test their theory!)

Your First Clue: Vocabulary Emphasized in this Issue

Review: errors. New vocabulary: resume, typo.

A few notes about the vocabulary:

Errors are mistakes. The main purpose for proofreading is to find and correct all errors, so that the finished letter or essay will be accurate and polished, with no misspellings or poor grammar to distract the reader or make a bad impression. (Writers want to impress their readers with their good ideas, not with their carelessness or poor English!)

A resume (or a CV-- curriculum vitae-- for academic jobs) is, as the article’s author pointed out, an organized, “detailed statement of your education, work history, and any special accomplishments.” Most employers, especially for professional positions, want to see a resume before they decide if they will interview a job applicant.

This kind of resume, unlike the verb that means to re-start doing something, is pronounced re’-su-me-- with three syllables and the main accent on the first. (The verb has two syllables, with the accent on the second. It ends in a silent ‘e’ that simply makes the ‘u’ long, so it rhymes with room instead of hum or sum.)

A ‘typo’ is an error caused by a mistake in the typing, possibly by hitting the wrong key. It’s a short form of “typographical error,” and is easy to make but sometimes hard to see, because the writer knows what it should say. Typos are one main reason for proofreading just one line at a time, carefully.

Getting the whole story: reading/listening practice:

Here is Amy Cuddy’s talk on body language.

Follow the Clues (Vocabulary Practice and More Proofreading Hints):

ESL Writing Tips has several useful links as well as practice with writing vocabulary. Some key editing and proofreading suggestions:

Remember to edit your writing before proofreading. Did you include all your important points? Is your writing clear (easy to understand) and well-organized so readers can follow your thoughts? Have you re-read it and removed unrelated thoughts and unnecessary words? Make it easy for readers to understand what you want to tell them!

When you are ready to proofread, try covering all the text but the line you are reading so you won’t be distracted. See the Purdue OWL’s valuable proofreading checklist (common errors to look for) at the end of the Tips section of ESL Writing Tips.

If you’re not sure you have found all errors, can you get a friend to help you check? If not, try the Virtual Writing Tutor link at the bottom of ESL Writing Tips.

Investigating on your own: Check out this site!

If interested, you can find more information about resume writing and job-hunting, especially for international students, at Purdue’s OWL Resources.

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Coming in the next issue: Engaging the Next Generation

In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with all 570 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced each issue here.

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