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Don’t Waste Your Cover Letter

Jim McLoughlin


Traditionally, golf course superintendents have used the cover letter when applying for jobs in a very perfunctory manner; i.e.- to make search committees aware of their candidacy and to ask for an interview - little more.


This superficial use of cover letters negates candidates' foremost opportunity to take the initiative throughout the application process...


....which is what the job application process should be all about; i.e., taking the initiative throughout the entire job application process. For example, following are sample cover letter core paragraphs that clearly demonstrate taking the initiative:


First Paragraph: Only after the applicant has completed all necessary due diligence concerning the golf course job vacancy (including being briefed by the outgoing superintendent), in +/- 100 words of your own choosing provide: (i) A personalized career mission statement (see August 7th blog); (ii) Concise information why your job experience correlates closely with the needs of the targeted course maintenance program; and (iii) Why you have a specific interest in applying for this job.


Also, provide your personal career web site address within the cover letter because this is the single element that best presents a summary profile of a candidate's career to date, while at the same time demonstrating a candidate's initiative. Reminder: roughly 65% of job interviews are granted to candidates that submit quality career web sites with their applications.


Follow-up Paragraphs: The three paragraphs in italics below (A, B, C) would constitute the core of a cover letter - to be followed by a traditional closing paragraph.


A: "Prior to a formal interview, I would like to schedule an interactive tour of the golf course with +/- two members of the search committee. During this tour, the committee would point out issues with the course that I would address and recommend solutions. This is the most effective way for a search committee to learn more about its golf course from candidate opinions and be able to compare job applicants first hand."


B: "Should I be granted the privilege of an on-course interview, for purpose of preparing and submitting a timely plan of action prior to my sit-down interview, I respectfully request that the following documentation be made available to me in copy form before interviewing:

  • The current and recent years' department operating & capital maintenance budgets.        

  • Recent years' OSHA/safety records; labor records; and department job descriptions.   

  • An aged maintenance equipment inventory with maintenance records.

  • Irrigation system profile data; and listings of cultural practices with schedules.

  • The most recent three years of USGA Green Advisory Service turf reports, if available.

  • A copy of the job description for the vacant superintendent's position."

It is assumed that the above materials made available to me would be made available to all candidates.


(FYI: Search committees are generally willing to provide copies of the above requested data when asked; if not, they will likely honor a request to read the materials and take notes on premises.)


C: "In summary, having access to the above requested information, combined with a committee-guided interactive tour of the golf course and maintenance facility (see this post dated June 26, 2014) would equip me to submit a definitive multi-year "plan of action" to the search committee prior to my sit-down interview. References will be made available upon request."


Clearly, the best opportunity candidates will have to be successfully interviewed for a job is to present a cover letter that takes the initiative as profiled above.

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FYI: Keep your cover letter to one page; unless you are a veteran with a long noteworthy career - then only two pages.

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