Write a Cover Letter
All the time and effort you put into producing a professional/polished résumé should be complemented with a well constructed cover letter. When receiving a letter and résumé, most employers will read the letter first. This means that if you want an employer to give your resume serious consideration, you have to sell yourself in your letter.
Writing effective letters takes considerable thought and effort. You must reflect not only on your personal objectives, but also on the needs and interests of your reader and the requirements of the situation. Ideally your letters should flow from and be linked to the following career development activities:
- Assessing your abilities, interests, values and motivations
- Researching and evaluating occupations and employers
- Defining your work objectives and career goals
- Writing a professional resume
- Planning and implementing your job search campaign
- Interviewing for job opportunities
- Choosing appropriate employment
Even though letter writing most directly supports the last three tasks, it is important to place this activity in the broader context of career planning and your job search. Should you find yourself struggling with your letters, it may be because you have failed to devote the necessary attention to assessing your strengths, researching occupations and employers, and defining your work objectives and career goals.
What to Do and Not Do in an Interview
Sometimes all of us need a reminder of how to behave in what could be a stressful situation.
- Research the company and specific position ahead of time.
- Get a good night's sleep before the interview so you will be mentally alert.
- Leave plenty of time to get to the interview, you should arrive 10-15 minutes early.Never arrive late!
- Dress properly and appear well groomed.
- Express enthusiasm.
- Remember and correctly pronounce the names of the people you meet.
- Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and show sincere and polite interest in the position and interviewer.
- Listen carefully to interview questions and answer completely.
- Sell your qualifications rather than your need for a job.
- Ask questions during the interview.
- Bring additional copies of your resume and list of references.
- Follow-up the interview with a thank you letter.
- Bring others to the interview.
- Interrupt the interviewer.
- Ask questions about salary and benefits.
- Criticize former employers, co-workers, applicants, organizations.
- Chew gum.
The best way to be sure you are prepared for an interview is to do a mock interview in the Office of Career Development or with faculty specific to the area you are interviewing for. Treat a mock interview as the real thing - dress and all!
What is a Personal Statement?
Writing a personal statement for graduate school applications can feel overwhelming. The purpose of your personal statement is to introduce yourself, explain why you are a good match for the program, market yourself, and entice the admissions committee to positively consider your application. Begin by researching each graduate school you are applying to and learning everything you can about their programs, faculty interests, and requirements for applications.
The Office of Career Development is available to discuss the process with you and assist you as you develop your cover letter – simply contact us.
In addition to Career Development staff, don’t forget the other many resources available to you:
- Albion faculty – they were successful in their applications
- Albion alumni and friends who have gone on to graduate school – they have insight into what worked for them and/or what a specific school is looking for
- Internet sites created by graduate students at various schools – search on the Internet for blogs
- The writing center – available to assist you in the writing process
What Are Mock Interviews?
To develop a confident interview style, you may wish to practice in a "risk-free" atmosphere. A mock interview in the Office of Career Development serves to help you recognize areas in which you excel as well as areas of improvement that would enhance your interview style.
All appointments are videotaped. After a 10-15 minute interview, you and your mock interviewer will review the tape and discuss your performance. You will receive a suggestion form after your interview with notes on potential strategies for improvement. The entire appointment typically lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour.
It is a good idea to prepare for your mock interview in advance. Reading literature on interview techniques and reviewing potential questions will be helpful.
To schedule a mock interview
- Contact the Career Development Office identifying your career interest or position for which you are applying.
- Bring a résumé to the interview.
- Dress and groom as you will for the actual interview - we will provide feedback to assure you of the right look.
- If you would like to keep a videotape of your mock interview, bring a tape.
We look forward to working with you!