Cover letter tips for recent grads (and veterans)

January 20, 2010 at 3:22 am Leave a comment

Recent graduates hear it all the time: This is the WORST job market for those with newly minted degrees in modern history — how will you ever find a job? And while the competition is certainly stiff, everyone has trouble getting that first job anyway, recession-era or not — you have to be savvy, open to possibilities and dogged about building your network right away.

The other thing recent grads will need is a killer cover letter to accompany their wet-around-the-ears resume. I came upon a recent book, Cover Letter Magic, Fourth Edition, which has some good tips. Co-authored by Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, career coaches and something called “credentialed career masters” (how do you get that gig?) it is available in bookstores and from the publisher ( or 1.800.648.JIST). Here are some thoughts on how to make that cover letter work for you, based on their tips and those of recruiters who read a lot of cover letters. While these are geared to newbies, even veterans can polish up their cover letter based on these tips:

*If you are lacking in recent professional experience in your chosen field — something that affects new grads, obviously, but may also be an issue for a veteran who left the workforce for many years to care for children, for instance — use your cover letter to indicate professional skills that you developed in college or in other nonprofessional settings. If you worked on important projects in a class (especially one relating to the job for which you’re applying) note that — it shows skill development and may also stress teamwork. If you were an athlete in high school or better yet, in college, showcase that in your cover letter as it indicates dedication, mental and physical toughness and a willingness to sacrifice immediate personal rewards for the greater good of the team. Just be careful, as always, not to embellish and to indicate clearly why this information is relevant to the recruiter who is reviewing your credentials for this particular job.

*Showcase technology and multimedia skills. Employers are impressed by these and if you have up-to-date skills, they may have a place for you. Be specific and indicate in your cover letter just how you developed and used these skills. Don’t slip into jargon.

*Don’t be afraid to underscore your academic achievements. Sometimes those applying for journalism jobs, especially, may be wary of discussing academic successes in their cover letter for fear of seeming like a “ivory tower nerd” who doesn’t have enough “real-world” experience. Yet college has been your real world for the past few years and showing how you succeeded there — again, indicating its relevance to the position for which you’re applying — indicates your ability to work hard, your intelligence and your competitive drive. Again, be specific, don’t expect the recruiter to understand academic jargon or what your courses entailed — spell out how you believe you could readily translate your academic success to success in their organization.

*Do research and indicate throughout your cover letter how your experience and skills can relate specifically to an employer’s needs. You can lose big points or win them with a cover letter and especially when your resume is fairly thin (as is the case with many a new grad) you need for that cover letter to make a connection with the employer — to show them that you can deliver just what they need. Never, ever state that you need a job and that’s why you’re applying. (Okay, you’re laughing, but nearly ever recruiter has seen this kind of cover letter.) Explain what you can do for the employer and prove that you’ve done some research on the company and its needs.

*Some good news to pass along: Jeffrey Birnbaum, a long-time editor and writer (for the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and the Washington Post) who recently left The Washington Times as managing editor for digital, has landed at BGR Group, a government relations and financial advisory firm, where he will run the PR arm in D.C.  He says he will continue to write a column for The Times and to contribute to Fox News. Congratulations to Jeff for landing so quickly. Please pass along other good news — it keeps hope alive. (And I’m especially interested in spreading the word about happy landings of other Washington Times folks caught up in the recent mass layoff there.)

*As always, a variety of leads to pursue — today’s positions are in free-lance writing, free-lance editing, communications, PR and journalism:

*The Fiscal Times, an online news service focusing on budget and related matters, is seeking some experienced free-lance writers:

The Fiscal Times, a new, independent online news service focusing on budget, health care, entitlements and taxes, is seeking contributing writers. We pay competitive rates to reporters who can regularly contribute spot news, feature stories and blog posts on our core issues. If you’ve got sources at Treasury, know your way around the Hill and don’t mind diving into the budget, drop us a line.  Our full-time and freelance contributors include veterans of the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and we’ve set up partnerships with established media outlets, including the Post. Learn more at:

If you’re interested, please send a resume and clips or links to Adam Graham-Silverman at:

*FBR Capital Markets in Arlington is looking for a free-lance editor:
Freelance Editor (Washington, DC Area)
FBR Capital Markets – Arlington, VA
part-time editor.  The editor may also be assigned special projects.  The freelance editor… the morning editor’s shift when the editor is out of…
From Jobfox

*1105 Government Information Group  is seeking a technology reporter in Falls Church, Va:

Job Snapshot


3141 Fairview Park Drive
Suite 777
Falls Church, VA 22042

Employee Type:



Printing – Publishing

Manages Others:


Job Type:

Media – Journalism – Newspaper


4 Year Degree


5 to 7 years

Relocation Covered:


Post Date:



Technology Reporter/Journalist

Department: Editorial
1105 Government Information Group, a division of 1105 Media, Inc., is seeking a Technology Reporter/Journalist in our Falls Church, VA office.  The ideal candidate will research and report on original technology news on a daily basis, and write feature stories for GCN’s audience of government agency information technology managers.


– Developing, researching, reporting, and writing original feature and news stories on regular rotation basis for GCN and 1105 GIG.

– Reviewing daily news feeds and contacting sources to identify stories appropriate for GCN and 1105 GIG audiences.

– Writing 4 original online stories (including news stories, columns, and blog items) per week for, as well as one substantial feature-length print story or case study, every other week for the magazine.

– Routinely attending appropriate conferences and/or meeting with government IT and technology experts to stay current with technology beats, develop sources, and identify material for future coverage.

– Helping develop and/or moderating panel discussions at company events and online eSeminars.


Minimum Requirements:

– Bachelor Degree

– 5 years minimum experience in technology-related trade journalism, including minimum of 3 years of daily/weekly business or technology reporting experience.

– Superior journalism skills combined with a technical background in the following areas in order to write authoritatively: enterprise-level information technology and software applications, as well as its potential and existing uses for government, civilian and defense agencies including enterprise software and open source applications, geospatial software systems, cloud computing, high performance computing, storage systems.

– Approximately 10% annually to cover key conferences.

>>>Please apply through CareerBuilder and indicate Salary Requirements upon submitting resume<<<

1105 Media is based in Chatsworth, CA, with primary offices throughout the United States and more than 300 employees.  The company was formed in April 2006 by Nautic Partners LLC, Alta Communications, and President/CEO Neal Vitale.

We offer a competitive salary and a comprehensive benefits package that includes medical/dental/vision insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, 401(k) plan and a paid time off (PTO)/holiday plan.

We are proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer

*The hat tip on this next lead is and PRSA — it’s for a director of diagnostics communications for AdvaMed in D.C.:

Director, Diagnostics Communications
Job ID: 6411326
Position Title: Director, Diagnostics Communications
Company Name: AdvaMed
Industry: Health/Medical – Medical Devices
Job Function: Public Relations
Entry Level: No
Location(s): Washington, Dist. Columbia, 20004, United States
Posted: January 19, 2010
Organizational Setting: Nonprofit/Association
Job Type: Full-Time
Job Duration: Indefinite
Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate
Min Experience: 7-10 Years
Required Travel: 0-10%
Company: AdvaMed
view full company profile

*And last but not least, Sage Communications (with a hat tip to and has an opening in Vienna, Va., for both an account executive and an account director:

Account Executive and Account Director

Sage Communications
Location: Vienna, Virginia 22182 United States
Last Updated: 01/18/2010
Job Type: Employee
Job Status: Full Time

Please see Job Details for Apply instructions.


Job Description

Sage Communications ( is looking for savvy Public Relations professionals at all levels who are eager to skyrocket their career at a full service marketing communications and PR firm.  There are several positions open ranging from Account Executive to Account Director. Sage supports technology, public sector-focused, B2B Fortune 500 and high-growth companies around the world. We’re looking for passionate individuals who can work efficiently, think creatively, reap the benefits of growing with us, and have fun.  Looking for 2-15 years of experience of a range of positions. Agency, technology, and government PR experience are a plus.  Please send resume to


Contact Information
Address: 8229 Boone Blvd
Suite 410
Vienna, Virginia 22182
United States

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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