Mysteries of a Gen-Y Confidant Rotating Header Image

Defining And Winning Arguments

As I’ve discovered the majority of the population including myself, define an argument as a loud and rowdy disagreement, less eloquently a yelling match. Great rhetoricians of old more accurately describe an argument as a debate. They do not “argue” based on emotion or feelings. They attempt to make a point using research and a sound base of knowledge. They assert that in most cases there is something to be achieved with every argument. Even resumes and cover letters present an opportunity for debate. Although widely considered a one-way dialog. These items evoke feeling and emotions in the recipient. The goal being to guide these reactions to your benefit, in this case an interview and subsequently a job offer.

Each entry on a resume is a platform to make your case, the case that you are the best for the job. Not merely stating that you have experience but what that experience will bring to the available position. The same opportunity is presented in the cover letter. Although it is considered a formality, creating a custom cover letter for each application allows the job seeker to present a tailored argument to each recipient. Each paragraph about experience or achievement allows the reader insight to your capabilities. Just as a lawyer makes her case you can appeal to the rational, ethical and emotional sides of your reader.

The main forms of argument use appeals of rationality, ethics, and emotion. Although most rhetoricians do not argue or debate from emotion, making appeals to the emotions of others is a powerful way to guild your “opponent.” It is impossible to know where a decision comes from without asking outright but it is rational to believe that is formed from the combination of rational, emotional and ethical reactions. The goal of debating is to find the correct combination to sway the argument to your point of view.

Using the resume or cover letter example is useful because it is easily relatable. In the position of the job seeker, it is assumed that you feel that you are the correct person to fill the available job. Your recipient will be your opponent. The idea is to use the opportunity to have a dialog with the emotions of the person reading your cover letter/resume. You want to focus on your ability to fill their need. Just remembering that instead of a formality each cover letter and resume is an opportunity to state your case will put you at the top of the list and hopefully present an occasion to build your case in an interview.

This brief reminder is based off of reading Getting Your Way Every Day by Alan Axelrod.

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