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.
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- Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
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“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators. This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in college athletics”
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University