Cover Letter Meme

My first participation in a meme! In librarianchat via the LSW wiki, a few folks decided that, in the interests of helping new graduates (and to amuse ourselves), we'd dust off some old cover letters and post them, with advice. The wonderful Rikhei (who shares my last name, even, and thus is doubly cool) started the meme here. I decided to post the cover letter that got me my current, most-excellent job.

At 3 pages, I realize that this cover letter is far longer than what is usually prescribed. I received cover letter advice from one Professor Lisa O'Connor that recommended the strategy of bullet-pointing each requirement from the job ad and addressing it directly, so that's exactly what I did. I got over seven interviews for academic reference/instruction positions, and more than one offer, so while this length likely isn't the norm, it worked for me.

Cover Letter

I am interested in the position of Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Awesomeness. I believe that my experience in academic reference and instructional services, my professional involvement, and my enthusiasm for librarianship would make me a great addition to your team.

Regarding the required qualifications:

  • Master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program. I received my MLS from the University of Kentucky in August of 2006.
  • Experience as a reference librarian, preferably in an academic setting. I have more than three years of academic library public service experience in reference and instructional services at the University of FormerWork. I focused my MLS coursework on academic librarianship and instruction. Though my particular specialty is in the social sciences, I decided to pursue continuing education post-MLS when reference courses were offered in the humanities, medical informatics, and science and technology reference work. Working at the University of Formerwork’s Main Library for more than 3 years while pursuing my degree, I developed my skills in a more practical sense while aiding undergraduate and graduate students in addition to faculty and community members utilizing both electronic and traditional reference sources.
  • Library instruction experience, preferably utilizing electronic library resources and current instructional technologies. I was deeply involved in the University of Formerwork’s information literacy program, where I taught introductory library instruction sessions through the U 101 program, in addition to providing library instruction for undergraduate and graduate students in various subject areas. I have received excellent reviews from students, professors, and my supervisors regarding my teaching. I was also involved in pilot projects to teach the EndNote bibliographic software as part of our library instruction offerings. I was involved in a program to insert academic librarians into BlackBoard distance education course modules to aid professors and students. I have received excellent reviews from faculty, students, and my own supervisors regarding my library instruction sessions at the University of Formerwork. I highly recommend you contact Former Bosslady, one of my references, who supervised my instruction. I taught both electronic resources (both general and subject specific, including search strategies) and traditional reference resources.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and facility with library related technology. At the University of Formerwork, I was responsible for web page maintenance and creation for the reference and circulation departments as a part of my position. I am also familiar with developing graduate and undergraduate web-based tutorials utilizing Captivate and Camtasia software, podcasting, RSS, wikis and blogs.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills evidenced by the ability to work cooperatively and maintain effective working relationships with colleagues, faculty, staff and students. I am familiar with working successfully on projects at the department level in groups, as well as cross-campus for different initiatives involving staff and faculty members. Particularly for pilot project initiatives involving librarians working with professors utilizing the BlackBoard course management software and in organizing the U101 library introduction session for new students, I was able to work productively with a number of library colleagues and non-library faculty and staff to accomplish the program’s goals. I pride myself on developing cordial relationships with faculty, staff, student and my colleagues because I believe that is the best way for me to create opportunities to improve my instruction and helps students and faculty succeed in their research.
  • Strong customer service focus and commitment to service excellence. I am fortunate enough to love the work that I do, and I believe that an excellent library team helps more students receive their degrees, be more successful academically. Librarians are the hub of campus, since we are the folks who communicate with faculty, students, staff, and the community at large. I consider it my responsibility to ensure that students are properly prepared to conduct comprehensive research with the skills they need both during their years in the classroom and once they leave. I continue my own education to ensure that I can provide the best service possible.
  • Demonstrated ability to be flexible in a dynamic, team-oriented work environment. While working at the University of Formerwork, the responsibilities of my position were split between the reference and instruction departments. I managed my time in order to supervise graduate assistants at the reference desk, provide instruction, organize and schedule instruction sessions, and organize the library’s involvement in the U101 freshman introduction to the library, among other tasks such as web development and maintenance and reference work. My organizational skills and flexibility allowed me to accomplish all of my tasks successfully, as well as to integrate new technologies into my instruction and library work.
  • Preparation and commitment to conduct independent scholarship consistent with a tenure-track faculty appointment. I look forward to conducting more research on human-computer interaction in the use of educational computing software. I am currently in progress with an MS in Instructional Systems Design in addition to my completed MLS.
  • Commitment to engage in continuing professional development. I have actively pursued professional development, in addition to being involved in various committees on campus (please see resume for professional development activities). I have also won an award at the University of Formerwork Libraries for my professional development endeavors (please refer to resume). I expect to continue my involvement in outside activities to complement my professional work.

Regarding the preferred qualifications:

  • Experience with course delivery software. In addition to formal training in instructional design through the MS I currently have in progress in Instructional Systems Design, I was involved in a program to insert academic librarians into BlackBoard distance education course modules to aid professors and students.
  • Familiarity with social software and Web 2.0 technologies. I am familiar with social networking software such as Facebook, MySpace and Second Life, and was involved in creating a library presence for the University of Formerwork Libraries in these arenas, as well as holding informative session for new students explaining how to use the software to their advantage while remaining safe.
  • A second advanced degree. I am currently in progress of an MS (Ed) in Instructional Systems Design with an emphasis in educational computing.

I hope you will agree that my qualifications and experience in a large university’s reference and instruction department would make me an excellent addition to your library team. Please also find with this letter a list of my professional references, and you may feel free to contact them or myself at (XXX) XXX-XXXX with any questions. I very much look forward to hearing from you regarding this position.



If I had to make any changes, I'd go back and cull those bullet points to be a bit more concise, and I see a few grammatical errors that have me cringing. (Um, "in progress of? Hunh?) I appear to have bludgeoned the committee over the head with my coursework a bit, but I did manage to work in wikis and RSS - not bad, considering that this letter was sent in February of last year, and most of the conferences are *still* presenting on that stuff. I'd also cut out the passive tense, which I apparently had a heated affair with last year when writing cover letters. I can't complain too much, though - I managed to charm my way past an overly long cover letter to the on-site interview, and started last August, despite letting Griffey know that I despise the Beatles. Still here, and loving it!

Thanks to my search committee for reading my overly long letter. Remind me that I owe you chocolate. Or beer. Or both, if you're feeling like a hedonist...

Okay, your turn! Go ahead and post one of your cover letters. It can be great, it can be awful, it can be one that got you a job. Think of it as advice for new grads and what to (or what not to) do...


Jared said…
Thanks for sharing this. As a recent graduate this a tip I will most certainly try.
Drew said…
That's very cool. Thanks for posting.
Patricia said…
Thank you for posting. I'm also a recent grad who's in the middle of the job hunting process.
Midsomer's Maid said…
Colleen - I so needed this info like 'tonight' - since I am sending out resumes and cover letters right now. Obivously, my puny little half page letter is not going to cut it. I had no idea such indepth information was in a cover letter! by the way - i believe we are of the same MLIS program and i want to thank you for all your postings and comments to us MLIS students and grads from the 'real world of librarianship'!
Colleen said…
Yay - I'm glad you folks have found it useful!

@Midsomer's Maid - Do be aware that I'm not quite certain a letter of this length is desirable or necessary - you may just as well be fine with your half page and letting your CV speak for itself (I know many people who get good jobs that way). This is simply the way that has worked well for me. Best of luck on your search!
Thanks for sharing. Cover letters are something I definitely need some guidance on :)
Anonymous said…

I read a same topic 2 month ago. The topic helps me to improve my competency.

Apart from that, below article also is the same meaning

Experience letter

Tks again and nice keep posting
chandra said…
Your step by step guidance was very much appreciated! keep up the good work! i can see how passionate your in helping others!

Cover Letter
syeds said…
applicant should make a copy of the job ad and go through it carefully to write what employer want to see in a cover letter, applicant should determine the needs of the company, use the important information in first para itself like, qualification and work experiences and end with strong request for interview. Never write cover letter more than 3-4 pages.

Cover Letters
zafiro80 said…
Ruby Claire said…
As we know there are n number of cover letters that can be sent to employers, but we must be sure to choose a type of cover letter that reflects how you are applying for the job , remember these points like,

Explain why you are sending a resume.
Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization
Provide or refer to any information specifically requested

Cover letter samples
Jane said…
Your step by step guidance was very much appreciated! keep up the good work! i can see how passionate your in helping others to create good cover letters!

Popular posts from this blog

ASIST 2017 Panel: Standards and Best Practices Related to the Publication, Exchange, and Usage of Open Data

Access 2017 Conference Day 2 Notes Sessions 4-7 #accessYXE

Access 2017 Conference Day 2 Notes Sessions 1-3 #accessYXE