Published 24 Feb 2017
Like every area of society, the professional world has its own values and conventions with regard to the way business ought to be conducted and how documents should be presented. Values can be defined as “the accepted principles or standards of an individual or group” (Encarta). The way people express themselves varies depending on the occasion, the audience, and the purpose for a particular assignment. This variation often takes into consideration the values and expectations of the audience to which the assignment or particular thing to be done is directed. In his essay An Introduction to Genre Theory, Daniel Chandler asserts, “Redefinitions of genre focus more broadly on the relationship between the makers and audiences of texts.” It is understood that these standards (genre and audience) influence the way in which materials are presented in all media, including print, broadcast, and other means of communication.
Jaemin Kim and Brian Cox are two professionals of the financial world who have served in their areas for several years and have received recognition for several projects in which they have been involved. Kim holds a Ph.D. in finance and has twice been published in scholarly financial journals. Brian Cox is a master of international management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship, and accordingly, he has served as the founder of a corporation and as the chief executive officer of more than one company. Like most professionals, they seek the representation of the highest caliber; therefore, they have compiled résumés that present them in best possible light. The résumé is as much a medium of communication as any other, and as such is influenced by the value systems and expectations of its audience. This paper will examine the way in which each résumé is structured and will present an analysis of the genre according to content, organization, language, and format, in light of the values held by the writers and their audiences.
According to Daniel Chandler’s guidelines, an important question to ask when conducting genre analysis is “How typical of the genre is this text in terms of content?” (Genre Theory) It is necessary to know both what is expected to be contained in typical texts of a certain genre and the reasons for this (especially in light of audience and purpose), in order that individual texts might be better analysed. Having information concerning the norm, the analyser can gauge the contents of the individual text against what is expected and can come to valuable conclusions about the reasons for the inclusion or exclusion of particular aspects of the work. This knowledge also helps when comparing or contrasting two or more pieces with each other, as is the case in this instance.
In assessing and analyzing the contents of each résumé, the first thing encountered was an organizational difference, found in first item presented in each résumé. Jaemin Kim’s résumé presents his academic experience first, while Cox presents his employment experience. Several reasons might exist for each individual choice, not the least of which is the existence of an organizational model that the writers might have followed in executing their documents. However, another more personal reason might be surmised from Kim’s résumé, when one takes it as a whole.
Kim is an academic. His educational level indicates that his interests go beyond merely qualifying himself for employment. Research and the extension of knowledge in his field appear to be priorities for him. Although the résumé does not indicate precisely to whom it is directed, one can infer that its audience or “ideal reader” (Genre Theory) is made up of other academics like Kim, perhaps members of the faculty of a university department of finance or the editors of a scholarly journal of finance. He has clearly chosen to present himself as a scholar, and this is evident not just in the first item of the résumé, but in succeeding headings, such as “Research Interests” and “Working Papers.” Such an audience would be interested in his scholarly work, and this has prompted him to make it the most prominent part of his résumé.
Brian Cox, on the other hand, has presented himself as a business man. Not only does his experience represent the first heading of his résumé, but it comprises about two-thirds of the entire document, highlighting its principal importance. The contents of this section, at a glance, corroborate this idea, as it is filled with his involvement in entrepreneurial projects of high levels of importance. On several occasions, according to his experience, he has been leader of the enterprise in which he was involved. As with Kim’s résumé, there is no overt indication of the audience for which it is intended, but educated guesses can be made. It seems he applies to a company or corporation, addressing businessmen like him who are interested not principally in one’s level of education, but the practical use to which one has put that education over the years.
These differences demonstrate the awareness that prospective employees must have of the expectations of their audiences, represented by the employers from whom they solicit jobs. These expectations have their roots in the values of different communities. The values of the academic community center around education and scholarly research. It is interested in the broadening of knowledge about certain topics; in Kim’s case, in the theoretical aspects of finance. It is these values that lead to Kim’s emphasis on his research capabilities and accomplishments. However, in the business world, value is placed on the ability to run a healthy (and often lucrative) institution. These values led to the emphasis that Cox places on his practical experience in the world of business.
Another significant difference between the two résumés is the inclusion of a category entitled “languages” or Cox’s résumé. There are two reasons that spring to mind that might account for this inclusion. Cox’s second language, Spanish, is more than a major modern language. It might also be considered the second language of the United States, as a large percentage of its citizens speak it at home. The ability to use this language with facility would be considered an asset in the business world, and therefore gives Cox an extra edge over rivals for the position for which he applies. What is more unclear is why Kim does not include his knowledge of a foreign language, as his familiarity with (and probable citizenship status in) Korea can be deduced from noting that his B.Sc. in Economics was obtained from the Seoul National University (Seoul, Korea). Although Kim was likely not applying for a business position, employers with academic interests might also have been interested in hiring a bilingual scholar. However, since educated writers are usually aware of the expectations and value systems under which their audiences operate, it might be safe to infer that the inclusion of this material was more suited to Cox’s audience than to that of Kim.
Both résumés include personal information about its authors. However, while Kim’s reference to this information was overt, with a section of the résumé entitled “personal information” and including five points, Cox’s information was buried under “Licensed Real Estate Sales Person” in a section entitled “Other.” It is evident that Kim as a writer expected a level of interest in his personal information on the part of his audience. This is understandable. Personal attributes of a prospective colleague would factor into the decision to hire him/her since a level of camaraderie is generally pursued (or at least desired) in an academic setting. However, there does not seem to be reason to suppose that this would not be valued in a business. The fact that it was included at all in Cox’s résumé does attest to this. It might therefore reflect, not predominantly the professional values of Cox’s audience/employer, but of Cox himself. He might not believe that how he spends his leisure is important in a corporate or company setting, and therefore mentions it only briefly.
Apart from similarities of content, another thing both résumés have in common is the conciseness of the language used in expression. In fact, very few full sentences were used in each; the phrases were spare, containing only the words necessary to get the meaning across clearly. There are no instances in which the first person is used. The subject is generally left out entirely, as it is assumed that all information is about the person in the title of the résumé. The reason for this economy in the language appears to be the same for both writers and their audience. Employers, whether in academia or in the business world, are busy people and (knowingly or not) might easily become frustrated with the résumé whose contents are worded in a confusing way or that does not get directly to the point. Though employers might not value circumlocution, this does seem to stem as much from the audience’s value system as from an understanding on the part of the authors of the strains of the positions occupied by those who would review their résumés. It might be detrimental to their career to delay the provision of the information that audiences seek, and as audiences all round are impatient, the good writers use this psychological insight to their advantage.
Another question that Chandler suggests the reader ask is “What institutional constraints are reflected in the form of the text?” Certainly the résumé as a genre imposes certain restrictions on what can be conveyed through it as a medium. Not only does it require professionalism, but even with the variety of types of résumés, there a certain pieces of information that must be included in each. These are the things that a prospective employer needs to consider in order to make an educated decision about employing a person. This is related to audience values in that the curiosities that need to be filled are created by the ideas possessed about the kinds of qualities or accomplishments that the ideal employee should have. These are the institutional constraints that contribute to the structure of the two résumés.
The physical layout and format of these two résumés must therefore be assessed according to how far they represent or are direct products of the values of the audience. Professionalism is highly regarded in the professional and academic world, and both résumés are, of course, generated by some kind of word processing machine. This makes them look professional, as both are directed at professional employers who expect this high standard of excellence from whomever they choose to hire. The résumés are also laid out in such a way that the different sections can be easily spotted, each having bolded category headings and use italics and capitals where necessary. The writers pay close attention to the rules and conventions of grammar, as this too is a major contributor to the excellence the audience requires.
Also pertinent to the format is the order of the dates of employment and education. According to the way both writers arrange these, it might be présuméd that their audiences are most interested in the current state of the writer—where he (or she) is now, rather than where he was in the past. The employer generally seeks to gauge the mentality of the person they interview, the general expectation being that the ideal person ought to exhibit a high level of progressiveness. This information can be assessed by viewing the trend of jobs or academic assignments as expressed in the writer’s résumé. According to Kim’s résumé, it appears that his successive levels of academic responsibilities have (perhaps expectedly) increased with his years. His professional experience takes him from a position in the financial department of the Daewoo Company to one of assistant to the chairman.
This feature is even more evident in Cox’s résumé. In fact, it seems very evident that he understands the values of employers with regard to this, as the dates of his experience are displayed even more prominently than Kim’s. And the experiences to which they refer display a more detailed picture of the steps he took to progress from director of mail order at Mountain Gear, Inc. to President/CEO and Co-founder of Vaccination Solutions, Inc. Therefore, the interest in and value of progression by the audience is here reflected in the writer’s attention to the format of the résumé.
From the analysis of the two résumés, it seems that despite the constraints of the genre, the two writers found room for many differences in style and emphasis. These seem to stem mainly from the differences in expectations and values of the audiences to which each is directed. Though the two disciplines are similar, both having to do with finance, one stresses the practical aspects of the discipline while the other stresses its theoretical aspects. In performing genre analyses on both résumés, the similarities and differences of the two résumés became more evident. It was easier to notice the boundaries of the genre and the places in which each writer pushes the envelope, so to speak, or is more conservative and followed closely the rules of the genre. It was interesting to see how one’s audience exerts powerful yet subtle influences over one’s actions. Overall, the analysis of the résumés in light of the audience’s values and expectations gave insight into the genre as well as into the nature of man and his community.
- Chandler, Daniel. An Introduction to Genre Theory. 7 May 2000. U of Wales.
- Microsoft Encarta Reference Library CD-ROM. Microsoft Corporation, 2005.