"How Writing Quality Influences Readers'

Judgments of Résumés

in Business and Engineering."

Davida Charney, Jack Rayman & Linda Ferreira-Buckley

Journal of Business & Technical Communication

6 (1992) 38-74.


To help students enter a professional discourse community, teachers must assess how accurately they understand the discourse practices of a community. Our research investigated how job recruiters seeking to fill positions in mechanical engineering or marketing, were influenced by the quality of writing in student résumés. The résumés varied in elaboration, sentence style, mechanics, and relevant work experience. The recruiters rated the résumés to indicate their willingness to interview the students. We found that recruiters in the two fields, engineering and marketing, valued quite different writing features. When we subsequently asked students in business writing and technical writing classes to rate the same résumés, we found that they underestimated the importance of various writing features. Generally, however, students' ratings resembled those of the recruiters in their respective disciplines. This study documents how students can improve their résumés and provides insight into the variations of discourse practices in professional disciplines.