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The Interview Trump Card: The Cover Letter
Bonnie J. Smith Assistant Program Director for Human Resources George A. Smathers Libraries University of Florida
What will we cover? 1. General Advice 2. Understanding the Scene The market The search committee 3. Prepare Yourself 4. Your Cover Letter 5. Closing Thoughts on Improving Your Odds 6. Resources
General Advice Engagement Enthusiasm, and Leadership (NOW!)
General Advice But, knowledge, preparation and technique will improve your odds
General Advice Get it right the first time!
General Advice Do not apply for jobs you are not qualified for period!
Understanding the Scene The market means more deliberate recruiting Many libraries are shrinking Which positions to recruit for Distinguishing between minimally, well, very well, ideally and overly qualified Selecting candidates for phone interviews Selecting 2 candidates for onsite interviews
Understanding the Scene Opportunities to your message Documents CV or Resume Cover Letter deliver References Interview Sessions Presentation Your interactions with staff at all stages
Understanding the Scene Every Document Matters The Cover Letter is YOU
Take advantage of the unique opportunity afforded by your cover letter The only chance you have to sell yourself to get an interview
What you need to know about search committees Members: They are conscientious They are likely to be intelligent They likely have a stake in the position and, therefore, the search
What you need to know about search committees Selection is weeding out Assessing the fit for the position takes 2 forms 1. Measurement E xperience Educational credentials 2. Judgment or inference Good colleague? Suitability?
What you need to know about search committees What they want to know: 1. Can you do the job? Strengths 2. Will you love the job? Motivation 3. Can we tolerate working with you? Fit Article in Forbes Magazine Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions http ://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2011/04/27/top executive recruiters agree there are only three key job interview questions /
What you need to know about search committees They have limited means to learn about you and use those to learn different things Documents CV or Resume Cover Letter References Interview Sessions Presentation Your interactions with staff
Do not rely on the search committee to determine the above on their own The committee should not have to work hard to figure out whether and how you would be a good fit What you need to know about search committees
Analyze the job posting Read it and assume it was written deliberately by intelligent people with a real stake in finding the right person for this position Assess your fit Interesting? Qualifications Required v Preferred Responsibilities Salary and location Deadline Prepare Yourself
Prepare Yourself Develop your message How your qualifications (uniquely) match the job Why the job makes sense for you Additional knowledge, skills, abilities, insights you offer How these matter
Prepare Yourself Be a detective Visit in person or on the web Discover the culture Have there been recent changes? Find the mission and vision Are the employees active at ALA? Talk to someone if you have the opportunity Look at the organizational chart
Prepare Yourself Be a detective Who is the department head? Find them on LinkedIn Done presentations? Published? What are their interests?
Prepare Yourself One chance to be noticed to get an interview
are paying me $50 to print my cover
Your cover letter A good cover letter graciously tells the committee what the sum of your education, skills, and experience will bring to its organization.
Your cover letter A really great cover letter demonstrates savvy with a thoughtful discussion of your experience in light of your knowledge of professional trends and the vision and mission of the organization
Your Cover Letter First opportunity to impress committee Your narrative If you have the qualifications your letter stimulates interest in you and your resume
Your Cover Letter Use standard business letter format Grammar and punctuation pu leeze this is a writing sample!
Reference Candice Benjes Small, Eric Ackermann, and Gene Hyde Conference paper available at: http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confs andpreconfs/national/2011/papers/job_hunting.pdf
Your Cover Letter Use an appropriate font and color Use the same font and size throughout Keep it to 1 to 1 pages
Your Cover Letter START Use correct institution and address information Address it to an appropriate person research
Your cover letter START Refer to correct position, including requisition number and other identifiers provided Add where you saw the position posted If someone referred you mention it Find a strong start something that impresses you about the library, department or unit do your homework!
Your cover letter MIDDLE Explain your interest why the position is a good move for you Clearly connect your qualifications to the specific job expand on your resume Why you are an ideal candidate what you can do for the employer What makes you uniquely qualified Show enthusiasm and understanding
Reference Candice Benjes Small, Eric Ackermann, and Gene Hyde Conference paper available at: http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreco nfs/national/2011/papers/job_hunting.pdf
Your cover letter MIDDLE Important pieces of news
Your cover letter MIDDLE A different industry A different professional level While in school Through professional service
Your cover letter MIDDLE library can do for you! Enthusiasm Preferred
Your cover letter MIDDLE Address obvious questions Significant changes in job or institution types Breaks in employment Frequent or numerous job changes Another degree type If you started recently, why are you looking to leave your current employer?
Your cover letter MIDDLE How have your experiences improved your suitability for the position? What have you done that stands out? Initiative? Project? Supervision? How have you stayed current? How have you credentialed yourself?
Your cover letter MIDDLE Strive to express these sought after qualities: Communication and interpersonal skills Intelligence and aptitude Enthusiasm and energy Flexibility Leadership Maturity Collaboration
Your cover letter MIDDLE Do not reiterate your RESUME Complement it!
Your cover letter END Restate interest in position Available for questions Send as PDF
One last piece of advice for your cover letter: do your research!! proofread get feedback
Resources @ your library How to get a Great Job: Crafting Effective Cover Letters http ://www.atyourlibrary.org/career/how get great job crafting effective cover letters Open Cover Letters Anonymous cover letters from hired librarians & archivists http://opencoverletters.com/
Resources ALA JobLIST Cover Letters http://joblist.ala.org/modules/jobseeker/CoverLetters.cfm Brian W. Keith University of Florida Libraries Associate Dean The Ins and Outs of Job Hunting for Library Positions An http ://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00019454
Thank you and Good Luck! Bonnie J. Smith Check out the UF Library Employment Website http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/pers/careers.htm