WRITING TO WIN: Boost Your Job Application to the Top!

11-25-2013 Book Image - Royce MurchersonUsing the Toulmin Model to Write Persuasive Job Application Letters–One of the most effective ways to write persuasive job application letters is to use the Toulmin Model of Argumentation. This model is based on the work of Stephen Toulmin in his book, The Uses of Argument.

Persuasive job application letters are also arguments. You are arguing for your future. You are selling the idea of you being the best person for the job. And to sell yourself effectively, you will need to understand the three essentials in job application letters. These essentials are found in the Toulmin Model.

Three Essentials
Claim – This is a straightforward declarative statement. It could be something as simple as completing the sentence, “My years of experience and broad knowledge of financial analysis make me supremely qualified for this position.”
Support – It can emphasize work experience, or if recently graduated, emphasize academic accomplishments
Employer Expectations – Assumptions as to what the employer expects in a prospective employee

02-24-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_1Types of Letters
Job application letters sometimes called cover letters will work in tandem with the resume. The cover letter puts forth a claim that you are the best candidate for the job while at the same time addressing the prospective employer’s stated or unstated expectations.

There are several types:

  • Letters that respond to a job opening
  • Letters that are general inquiries when no specific opening has been posted
  • Letters that are targeted inquiries when you are interested in a specific job
  • Follow up letters such as a post-interview letter

All of these letters should include the Three Essentials:

  1. Claim – Why you are the best person for the job
  2. Support – Reasons why you are the best person for the job
  3. Employer Expectations – Attributes the employer will want to see in you

02-24-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_2The Need to Know Employer Expectations
After your initial claim, you must address the prospective employer’s expectations. Remember ‘the need to know’ mentioned in my previous blog?  The need to know your reader or prospective employer is very important. You must try to figure out what qualities and skills the employer will want in a new employee. You’re probably thinking, how do I figure this out? This is how you do it.

02-24-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_3Ask Yourself One Simple Question…
Why would this person want to hire me? Remember these are only assumptions, but common sense assumptions, so make a list. It might be reasons like experience, education, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills.  Writing about yourself in these areas will help to address unanswered questions the prospective employer may have about you.

How You Can Remove Some of the Guess Work?
Research the Employer – Locate all relevant information on the company such as corporate vision, profit and loss, stock performance, and long term industry outlook. Knowing something about the company demonstrates your interest.
Research the Position – Locate information on salary range, customary duties and responsibilities, potential for growth.

02-24-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_4Persuasion is Power!
Understanding the art of persuasion, the power it wields, and the success it can yield is absolutely necessary in the job search. You will have many opportunities to sell your ideas when you’re on the job, but first you will need to land the job. And to do this, you will need the best tools. Think of the Toulmin Model as a new kind of toolbox, one that contains the essentials of success.

For a more expanded discussion on writing persuasive job application letters  and using the Toulmin Model of Argumentation in business writing, see my book, Royce Murcherson, PhD,  The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013) 1-11.

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

Toulmin, Stephen. The Uses of Argument. Cambridge University Press. New York, 1958.

This article is the last in a four-part guest series written by Royce Murcherson, PhD, on how to improve your writing skills and behavior. Dr. Murcherson is a faculty member in World Languages, Cultures, and Communications at Richland College in Dallas.

For more information on BOSS course offerings in communications, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu  972-238-6215.