There are countless articles and tips out there about writing an effective cover letter across many industries. What works and what doesn't in our industry? It varies with every club but there are some basic guidelines to work from that give you the best chance for success. So, here's a list of things to consider when writing an effective cover letter in the golf maintenance world.
- Write a cover letter! You might think this is par for the course, but many in our industry do not even include a cover letter in their application. This is particularly true for young professionals. It is a critical part of the application, and unless you have a connection at the club it is your only chance to make a statement about your desire to work there. A resume may tell the hiring person where you have worked, but a cover letter formally introduces you to them and states why you are the perfect fit for the position.
- Always include the cover letter as its own file. Again, you would be surprised how many just type the cover letter in the email body when they apply. You should not do this for a couple of reasons. First, you are missing a chance to enhance your branding. By just inserting text in an email, you are stuck with basic plain text. If you have the cover letter as its own file you can brand it to match the look of your resume, recommendation letters, portfolio, and/or website. This subtle transfer of the same look creates a brand for your career and allows you to grab their attention in a better way than an email body.
The second reason is because usually more than one person is reviewing applications at clubs. It is tough to keep track of emails to go back and read through cover letters. It is much easier to print a file out that contains the cover letter. It is more easily forwarded on to others or coalesced into a candidate report as its own file. You are helping the hiring person out by doing this, which in turn ups your odds of a closer look.
- Always make the file a PDF. MS Word does some funny things to text margins depending upon the version and computer. And with mobile devices so prominent, it gets even more complicated to ensure your file stays laid out properly. You can export to PDF from Word or use a free online converter if your computer cannot export to PDF. This is a critical point and again helps the hiring person.
- After your initial statement regarding your application, you should include a link to your website. If you don't have a website, give a link to your LinkedIn profile, an article highlighting your work or a feature on your club. It is good to show the hiring person right away that you offer more than the standard resume and really care about your career materials or have industry recognition.
- Include a section about that specific club. The vast majority of applicants use the same cover letter for every job they apply for, just changing the name of the club. This limits your chance to leave a lasting impression. Instead, you should spend a little time researching that club and include a few sentences about why it is so unique and why you would be honored to represent a club with those attributes. Put this content right after your first paragraph. It is not done very often and immediately shows the hiring person you are sincere in your interest and already have a connection to the club.
- Don't repeat everything from your resume. The resume can get into the specifics of your work at each club. Instead, talk about unique things you have learned at different courses that make you a well-rounded professional. Carefully read the job posting and look for things they desire so you can be sure to mention you have experience with those areas. Here, it may be beneficial to repeat something very specific from the resume to ensure they see it, but try to word it differently or go into more detail on the experience.
- Give the hiring person an action step. Create a sentence or section that states your willingness to move forward in the process and provide your contact information in the sentence. You can also mention a desire to visit the club in person to develop a plan for a possible interview or presentation.
- A sincere thank you works. Include a sentence thanking the hiring person for their time and acknowledge the fact that they have to go through many candidates and it requires much time. This shows you appreciate the process and value their time, many people volunteer to be on hiring committees at clubs.
- Keep it fairly short. A cover letter should never be more than one page. You should have about 3-5 paragraphs total and just hit the main points listed above.
These key features will make your cover letter better than most and offer your best chance for a closer look. Good luck and remember that extra time spent on a custom letter for each application is worth well more than the time.