Cover Letters for Social Workers, with Anna Haley-Lock, Ph.D.

Cover Letters for Social Workers, with Anna Haley-Lock, Ph.D.

Okay, so last session was resumes. This session is cover letters. And one of the things that I said last time to motivated people coming to this one is that cover letters, I think by a large margin, are as important as, if not more important than, resumes. A resume will certainly nominally get you in the door, but the bar of acceptance there isn’t super low, but it’s fairly generous And it’s honestly often through the cover letter, that you get to the point of being asked for an interview. Okay. And that’s even when cover letters are not requested. So one thing to know, unless… Hi, sign in. Make yourself accountable.– So even if a cover letter is not asked for. Now, there are some application processes–we mentioned this last time– Where you are completing a form online and it’s very regimented how you are going to upload your resume and it may not provide an opportunity, a spot, for a cover letter so in that case, no, you’re not going to wedge in a cover letter somehow. But short of that, or even if there’s another place to upload a different or “another document” that is where the cover letter goes. So you should plan, that when you apply for a job you’re going to provide a cover letter at this point. This is a phase of professional achievement, that a cover letter is needed for a job. Okay, so what we’re going to do, is walk through a general template for the format of a cover letter, kind of the content and format, and then I have two different letters that are off loaded from online and I’m continuing my point making about online resources being a mix of good stuff and questionable stuff. So this is kind of a sub-agenda to train you to be skeptical online resource users. So that’s the process. Any questions right off the bat? On that note, please ask questions as we go cause I’m gonna a little bit, inelegantly, charge out of here right at 1:05 so I want you guys to–this is your session– I mean, I’m bringing the content, but I want you guys to ask the question that you need for your learning um, and we’ll do that all along the way. Okay. I may repeat your question, not because I didn’t hear you, but to make sure it’s being conveyed on the video that’s being taken. Okay? Are we good? Okay. So, cover letters. One thing I noted– –I’m just gonna walk through this from start to finish. One thing I noted last time, where much of the job application process is about impressing folks who don’t know anything about you typically, including your attention to detail. And obviously with professional jobs, that would be a given, not a core job quality–it isn’t like that is gonna get you the job, but not being attentive to detail and mistepping on that is going to be, striking. It will really stand out. So along those lines, kind of a nice benefit, a nice thing to do, it’s not required–this is an art, not science thing there are no technical requirements, but things I can suggest So, a nice thing to do is create some sort of header, kind of like your own stationary, that is the same in your resume and your cover letter, and then in, for example, an eventual document that you share that contains your references information. So have the same thing across the top of it. Okay. Use your Wisconsin email address don’t use gmail or any others especially when it’s a gmail where the, the [email protected] –Hi. Oh, do we have any extras guys??– Are there extra handouts? Yes? okay. Um, especially don’t use a non-UW email account if you’ve got a cutesy [email protected] moniker Right? That should really go without saying. Use the UW. You’re here for a reason. It does induce status and achievement and it’s good to remind folks of that not to be heavy-handed about it, but hey… Um So this is business letter formatting I think flush left is the easiest way to go you could certainly center the date and the sincerely sign off but flush left I think is more standard Uh, so let’s walk through this. So you have ideally, the name of the person who is listed as the contact, in terms of the information that it”s going to. If you don’t know the name, you could use something like “hiring committee” or “search committee” and they may chuckle because it may be only one person there may not be any committee in a small organization but it’s still the professional, you know, substitute reference to put in there. With the name, the catch the tends to arise is it’s not clear if that person should be addressed as a mister or a miss or a doctor or a whatever Um So ideally, what I’ve done and I do this, I’ve done this actually when I’ve addressed research participant letters and I have their name, but I don’t know the sex Um, is to try to google online. If you can google the name and the organization and you can do an image google, and sort of see if you can gather some information that way. Triangulate it several times to make sure it’s not an aberant finding so if you’re not able to independently know about how you should address that, you can figure out through other information. Cause it’s much better if you can reliably customize the address to do that, rather than to put ‘Dear Jane Doe’ or Jane Doe up hear and then dear Jane Doe that sounds a little awkward right? and not socially smooth. Um, so try to find that out. Any questions about that? No? Okay.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Excellent information overall but one frustration about the video: Anna states at the beginning that she would repeat the questions so we could hear them; however, most of the student's questions are either edited out or not repeated, we don't know what the questions being asked are.

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