Sell Yourself in Your Cover Letter

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Recently, I wrote about writing a great resume. It is one of the most important marketing tools you can create to help sell you for a job opening. Just as important, however, is your cover letter.

The purpose of a cover letter is to sell you, provide insight into you as a person, and show why you are a good fit for the position. A good cover letter will prompt the search committee to take a closer look at you and your resume.  In fact, a quality cover letter can catapult you forward in the job search process, whereas,  a poorly written cover letter can eliminate you from consideration.

Your cover letter needs to be personalized to the person who is in charge of hiring the position. This could be the hiring manager or the search committee.  Do not address your letter to “To Whom it May Concern.”  If the job announcement doesn’t specifically identify whom the hiring person is, or the chair of the search committee, you will need to do your homework so you can find out who the best person is for you to address your cover letter.  This could include addressing your application materials to the athletic director (or the person who the position reports to), the HR manager, or even the search committee – but never “to whom it may concern.

Your cover letter should be written in a way that introduces you and your resume to the hiring manager or the search committee.  It should tell them who you are, how you are qualified for the position, any applicable accomplishments you have, and why you are a good fit for the position.  More specifically, you will want to make sure you address how you meet each of the qualifications listed in the job description.

Your cover letter should not be any longer than 1 1/3 pages of 12-point font.  Preferably, you should try to limit your cover letter to one page if at all possible.  But don’t try to squeeze your letter on to one page by using 10-point font.  This font is too small and most people won’t continue to read your letter.  If they stop reading your materials, you have just been eliminated from the candidate pool.

Make sure you follow the IBS format for writing a cover letter (Introduction, Body, and Summary).  This includes having a minimum of three paragraphs and a maximum of five.  The first paragraph is considered an introduction and it tells the search committee which job you are applying for and what actions you are taking to apply for the job.

Following the introduction is the body of the letter.  The body will range between one and three paragraphs in length.  It is designed to show the search committee how you meet the qualifications for the position (education and experience); what strengths, abilities, and traits you possess; and what accomplishments you have achieved in similar positions.  The final paragraph is a summary of your interest in the job and it should explain why you are a good fit for the position.

A well-crafted cover letter will help you to sell yourself as a well-qualified applicant.  If properly prepared, the cover letter will prompt the search committee to want to take a closer look at your resume and will get you one step closer to an interview.  Therefore, in order to move your candidacy from the application process to the interview stage, it is extremely important that you have a properly formatted resume and a strategically written cover letter.  These are essential elements that are necessary for receiving an interview.

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.sportscareersinstitute.com or his new book Execute for Success at www.ThePositiveLeader.org.  

*******

The #1 Careers Book in Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

.
“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in college athletics”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University

 

 


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How To Construct a Great Resume

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Your resume is a marketing tool to help promote you for a potential job interview. Writing a great resume takes practice and attention to detail. The purpose of a resume is to show the hiring manager that you meet the qualifications for the position. Your resume should be easy to read and it should sell you. Most employers will initially spend between 10-20 seconds looking at a resume.

So how long should your resume be? Your resume needs to be long enough to show your experiences and accomplishments, but short enough that a potential employer will read it. When you first graduate from college, your resume will probably be a page or so in length. As you advance in your career, your resume will grow in length.

Your resume needs to effectively use fonts, bullets, bold, and underlining to get the search committee to notice what you want them to see. People naturally view written pages from the top of the page and down the left margin. Therefore, your name needs to be listed on the top of the page and your most important information located down the left side. As you write your resume, keep the following thoughts in mind.

Format and Appearance – Since the hiring manager will spend approximately 20 seconds reviewing each resume, you need to create a format for your resume where they can view your education, experiences, and accomplishments within this short amount of time. To accomplish this you need to effectively use white space on your resume to help make your information stand out. Margins should be no less than one inch on all four sides. In addition, you will want to use bulleted items, short statements, and occasionally a sentence to describe your skills and experiences. Written paragraphs are not as effective.

The Font – The font size on your resume should be 12-point and a conservative type such as “Times.” This size is most commonly used for the majority of the information on your resume. Your headings should be a little larger, perhaps 14-point Times. You might want to consider using all capital letters for your headings. Certain items that you want the search committee to notice should be bulleted, bolded, underlined or italicized.

Personal Information – The personal information on your resume should only include your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. Your name and personal information should be aligned on the top of the page and either centered or on the left side of the page. Your name should have a font size of approximately 24-point. The address, telephone number, and e-mail address are a smaller font size such as 10-point.

Objective – If someone is applying for a job in the industry in which they are currently working, they probably do not need an objective. However, if a person is changing industries, or is a recent graduate, an objective is probably warranted. If an objective is used, it should be located immediately following your personal information. It should be in 12-point and in the same font (e.g. Times) as the body of the resume.

Education – If you have a college degree(s), list your highest degree first and do not include your high school diploma. However, if you do not have a college degree, you will want to list your high school diploma. You might also want to consider bolding the name of your degree.

Experience – List each of your applicable jobs by most recent position first. You will want to list each of your positions by title, organization, dates of employment, and your achievements. You might want to consider listing the title of your position in bold. This is so the search committee can scan your resume and see what type of experience you have. Make sure the dates of your employment coincide so that it does not appear that you were out of work at any time. However, if you were unemployed at some point, do not try to hide something by falsifying dates. Instead, list the accurate dates in years, such as “2009-2013”. Using this format, instead of listing months and years, you will help to possibly defuse any questions about your unemployment.

Professional Activities – If you are a member of a professional association you should include this on your resume. Since this is a new category, the heading should be in a 14-point font size and the activities should be bulleted in a 12-point font.

Publications – If you have published an article, a research study, or a book, you should also include this on your resume with an additional heading. This too would be a new heading and would be in 14-point Times.

These are just a few suggestions to get you pointed in the right direction. Please let me know if I can help you in any way. Best of luck on your upcoming job search!

 

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.sportscareersinstitute.com or his new book Execute for Success at www.ThePositiveLeader.org.  

*******

The #1 Careers Book in Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

.
“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in college athletics”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University

 

 


Assessments: Knowing Your Strengths and Abilities

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

What are your career goals? Most people aren’t 100% sure. They know they want to work in the sports industry, but that’s about it. How about you? Do you know what you want to do professionally? If you don’t know, you’ll want to analyze your strengths and weakness in an attempt to find out more about yourself and find out what types of jobs best fit your personality. If you do know your strengths and weaknesses, let me ask you this – what are the strengths you bring to an employer and what are your weaknesses? This is one of the first questions you’ll be asked in an interview.

If you hesitated in answering this question, you need to conduct some assessments so you can identify your strengths, weaknesses, skills, and abilities. Understanding your strengths and abilities are key to getting interviews, acing your interview, and getting the job. You need to know your strengths and skills for four main reasons:

  • It helps you to write a cover letter that can really sell you
  • It helps you with answering interview questions
  • It provides you with confidence during your interview
  • It helps you in trying to influence the decision of the hiring committee

In order to really get to know yourself, you need to conduct several skills assessments that will help you to identify what you need to focus on in order to get the job you want. These assessments become the foundation for everything you do in the job search process.  In reality, you shouldn’t begin applying for jobs until you have completed the assessment stage of the job search process.

For more information on assessments and the job search process, check out my book entitled “Getting Hired in College Sports”. It will help you in every aspect of your job search. You can read more about the book at my website at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com. Good luck on your upcoming job search!

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.sportscareersinstitute.com or his new book Execute for Success at www.ThePositiveLeader.org.  

*******

The #1 Careers Book in Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

.
“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in college athletics”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University

 

 


Given a Choice, When Should You Interview?

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

I was asked an interesting question the other day. A young man was interviewing for an assistant athletic directors position and he was given a couple of different days he could choose for his on-campus interview. He asked me if there was an advantage in the order of when a candidate should interview. My response was quick and clear – yes, it can matter when you interview.

Of course, your qualifications, experience, communication skills and preparation are vitally important for determining who is offered the job. But so is having an advantage because of the lasting impression you make, the information you have, and your follow-up strategies. The following are some thoughts on this subject.

Lasting Impression – Quite a bit of research in social psychology has been conducted as to who will get the job based on the order of their interview. Some research suggests that the first person has the advantage because they get to make the first impression (primary effect), while other studies have shown that the last person to interview has the advantage because they get to leave the last impression (recency effect). Based on this information, if all interviewees were thought of as equal in regard to how they interviewed, you will want to select either the first or last slot for your interview. However, if a superior candidate is interviewing in a middle slot, they will probably still get the job offer.

Information – In theory, all candidates have the same information, so why should order of when you interview make a difference from an information perspective? Because the people who interview last might be able to gather additional information that was brought up in previous interview sessions. Let’s say that the second person to interview was asked a question that somewhat stumped them. A problem surfaced that is facing the department and the committee asked the candidate how they would handle it. This might have caught the candidate off guard but they did their best to answer a difficult question. If this is a high profiled job, a local news reporter might write an article about the candidate and mention the candidate’s thoughts on how they would handle the problem. You now have an advantage because you have time to prepare for how you will answer the question. It doesn’t have to be a news reporter. It could be someone on the “inside” sharing the information with you prior to your meeting with the search committee. Regardless, information is powerful, and if you can uncover information and properly prepare, you have an advantage that the earlier candidates did not have.

Follow-up – Following up after the interview is so important. This is what separates candidates when they appear fairly equal in their interview. It might be a simple thank you note to each search committee member, or more likely a real strategy in how you will influence the decision of the members of the search committee. But one of the key understandings to getting the job is to not panic because the hiring decision isn’t being made as quickly as you want. But this can be a good thing. People tend to get anxious when the search process takes time. In fact, some people get so anxious that they drop out of the running. They end up withdrawing their name from consideration, and your chances of getting hired have just improved. Since many searches are spread over a week or two, the final interviewee has an advantage over those who have already interviewed and are waiting on pins and needles for a decision.

So does it really matter which order you interview? Not if you’re clearly the best candidate. But if all the candidates are relatively equal, your odds are better if you interview last. You have the advantage of leaving the last impression, obtaining more information, and not suffering from anxiety related to the time it’s taking to hire a candidate. Best of luck with your job search!

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.sportscareersinstitute.com or his new book Execute for Success at www.execute4success.com.

*******

The #1 Careers Book in Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

.
“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  A must read for anyone whom has a goal of working in athletic administration”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University