The Job Search Cover Letter

When job searching, cover letters are an important part of the process. Potential employers want to see that you are looking at their position individually and responding to their needs. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time, but rather than sending out generic letters, get used to fine-tuning your application letters to each specific institution. In today’s age of extreme web-access, there is no reason that applicants can’t familiarize themselves with the schools to which they are applying.
• Read the job listing thoroughly and make sure that you respond to each point on their list of qualifications.
• Remember that the HR department is the first hurdle you must overcome. HR will rank and score your letter in relation to how you fulfill their requested qualifications, not who you are and how well you write.
• If you lack a qualification, express interest to learn, or connect it with some other skill that you have.
• Address the qualifications, but be brief. Outline the details of your experience on your CV.
• Briefly state why you would make a good fit for their school, demonstrating that you are familiar with the unique qualities of their program.
• Use brief personal and specific anecdotes that highlight a familiarity with their program. For instance, if qualifications mention mentoring students, mention what you have done to accomplish this in your past, or if new to the market, how you were successfully mentored.
• Write succinctly to tell the search committee who you are, without trying to impress – in other words, be yourself.
• Be mindful of the schools to which you are applying. Sitting on a search committee last year, I called up a candidate for a potential interview and took her completely by surprise as she did not appear to remember having applied to the position at my school. Additionally, she was out and about and not with her application materials, however she insisted on continuing the conversation. It would have been better if she had asked to reschedule the conversation and speak with me when she was better prepared. As a result, she did not get an interview.
• Choose to apply to the jobs you are best suited for, not every job that is available. See “Types of Academic Institutions” and “Which jobs do I apply for?” posts on this blog for additional information.

This entry was posted in Applying for Jobs, Job Search Process and tagged by seszucs. Bookmark the permalink.

About seszucs

Suzanne E. Szucs is an artist, writer and educator living and working in Rochester, MN. A recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an Illinois Arts Council Individual Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Individual Artist Grant, Szucs has shown her work widely. To see portfolios or link to articles go to: or Szucs has a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having taught since 1995, Szucs has held positions at a variety of institutions, from adjunct positions at art schools and community colleges, multi-year positions at two universities and is currently a full-time Instructor of Art, Photography at Rochester Community & Technical College. Her experience includes teaching across the spectrum of photographic practice and history and working with diverse demographics of students at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s