Breaking Through Part II: Connections and Cover Letters

Alright. Now that we have the resume situation straightened out, we can focus on what you have to do to get people to take a look at your perfect resume. If you feel like your resume still isn't perfect then one of two things happened: 1) You didn't read "Breaking Through Part I" (written by yours truly) and just realized that you accidently forgot, so you are going to go read that before continuing this. 2) You did read "Breaking Through Part I" and just aren't super confident in your resume building abilities yet. AND THAT'S OK! You can always ask a trusted friend to look it over, show it to one of your closest industry connections, or stop by The Center Walk-In hours (fun fact: they are Covid friendly over zoom now and I can personally recommend attending). That way someone else can guarantee that your resume is good to go.

Let's get back on track. It won't matter how good your resume is if employers leave it sitting in a pile and never give it a good look. That resume will only help you get that interview IF someone looks at it. How do you get people to pick your resume up? Easiest answer: Career Fairs. Employers are going to have to talk with you when you are right in front of them. Giving a solid pitch and talking about your experiences will give them no choice but to give it a glance at the least. Unfortunately, Covid has other plans and there aren't as many chances to see employers face to face. It's not ideal at all, but it is certainly nothing to panic about. There are big things or "Big C's" that will help get your resume out of the pile and into an employers hands: Connections and Cover Letters. Now I will be the first to admit, these two things are not my areas of strength, however I was in the Walk-In Resume hours with the Center and had a chance to ask the famous Dr. B her thoughts on these two things and they were fantastic. Here is some of what I was able to take away from our conversation.

Cover Letters: When students go to write cover letters, myself included, we tend to be BORING and formulaic. The classic "start with an introduction, then talk about why are a good fit for the position, and finish with why you are so interested in this position" cover letter is tried and true. It is still a great way to build a cover letter and effective when doing a large number of applications. However, it may not be so great for those jobs you desperately want; The Dream Job if you will. The question is how do write those cover letters for those dream jobs. According to Dr. B the answer is simple, BE YOURSELF. The resume is what will get you the interview, not the cover letter. The job of the cover letter is to elicit emotion from the reader. You want the employer to say "That was a unique cover letter" or "I want to know more about this person. I mean think about this, you see someone and are immediately thinking "I want to go on a date ASAP". I highly doubt you'd land that date if you gave an introduction, talked about why you were worthy of going on a date with, and then said why you were super interested in going out on a date with them specifically.

All those things are exactly what happens, in both cover letters and dates. The difference is that it happens naturally when you're trying to get a date and not naturally in a cover letter. So how do you make it more natural? Again: BE YOURSELF! There is only one of you in this world, so your cover letter should be as diverse as you are. Try starting with a relatable quote, referencing a product that they make, or even start with why you are so passionate about working for that company. As long as you cover who you are, why you are interested, and why you are qualified. It doesn't matter how you do it. What matters is that your cover letter is a reflection of who you are as a person, and makes the person reading want to learn more about you.

Connections: One of the things that Dr. B said she hears a lot of is students shying away from the fact that they knew people at the places they got a job/internship at because they think that it diminishes the value of their experience. Being one of those people, I felt personally attacked, but Dr. B made some great points. No job selections are done by a specific individual, and often times the person you know is not directly responsible for hiring you. Connections are beneficial in that there is a person in the room that knows you and can vouge for you throughout the process. At the end of the day, your skills, your experiences, and your character are what get you the position. Once you are in that role, you are proving that you are worthy everyday at work, not the connections that you had.

So without as much face to face time with employers, what is the best way to make connections. "LinkedIn" -Dr. B. Just knowing someone isn't always the best, it's about building a relationship. Use LinkedIn to find Spartan Alumni who work at that company, or better yet a Spartan Engineer. Send them a message telling them that you are a fellow Spartan and are interested in learning more about their experiences with a company. They may respond they may not, but what is important is that you didn't just come out looking for a position. People usually love to talk (I write a blog giving advice about finding jobs; not always the most riveting topic yet here I am). Showing interest makes a great impression right from the beginning. Once you have built that relationship, ask them about a posting or a particular position within the company and what they know about it. If they know they will tell you. If not ask if there is someone they know who has that position or knows about the role, and they can send you that individuals information. Next thing you know, multiple people within the company know your name, have a relationship with you, and are more likely to bring your name up when it comes hiring time.

I want to give Dr. B yet another shout out for all of the great advice she gave me. I'm not yet great at doing things myself, but you better believe that I am currently trying everything that she suggested. I thought it would be nice to give Dr. B a little screen time with everyone so next week there will be a Spartan Spotlight just for her. Make sure you stay tuned for that and start working on the Big C's. These things aren't always the easiest, but when done right they will pay off big time. Stay tuned and keep grinding Spartans!

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