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Cover Letter and a Face-To-Face Interview

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Everyone is frightened by the prospect of a face-to-face interview, partly because we know that we have a lot at stake. Since the interview process is so time-consuming, personnel directors spend a great deal of energy sorting through the applications to prepare a short list of applicants to interview. The personal interview is probably the most crucial step in obtaining the job we want. So though it is normal to be anxious about the interview, it is important to invest that energy in preparing for the interview instead of torturing ourselves about it.

COVER LETTER

The cover letter should explain why you want to work for that particular organization. The cover letter will be similar to the letter that you developed when you were surveying agencies for your clinical experience. Be sure to include any professional growth, such as conferences or programs that you have attended, and discuss any pertinent work experience that you think makes you a good candidate for the job. Proofread this letter carefully. This is not a time for poor spelling or sloppy grammar. The obvious disadvantage of writing a personalized letter to each personnel director is that it takes time, and job applicants often equate a careful job search with the total number of resumes sent out. Please remember that personnel directors are not looking for someone who needs a job; they are looking for someone who will fit their organization's particular needs and who wants to work in their particular organization. Careful research and personalized letters may be far more useful than any scatter shot approach.



An appropriate cover letter might look something like the one on the following page.

THE PLACEMENT OFFICE

The first contact most students have with their college placement office or career center usually comes in the second semester of their senior year, when they are in the process of putting their placement files together. A college placement office will maintain a confidential file of student transcripts and recommendations, but that is only one of the many services that may be available. Placement offices may offer vocational interest inventories, career counseling, and aptitude tests. In most colleges the placement office is a clearing-house for job information. Many schools produce newsletters with job listings as they come in. In order to derive the most benefit from your college placement office, be sure to start visiting the office early in your senior year. Find out what services are available, and get your credentials in order. If your school produces a mailing list of job listings, make sure that you subscribe to it.

APPLICATIONS

Typically a school district or other organization will send out a job application after receiving your resume and cover letter. Wading through a job application can be a very frustrating and time-consuming process, especially since the application always asks for the exact information that you spent hours organizing on your resume. Be patient. School districts, proprietary schools, universities, and corporations that employ licensed professionals are required to keep meticulous records. By using a standard employment application, they can keep track of hundreds of pieces of information and retrieve them when accrediting agencies want to inspect their records. As you type or print the information on your application, be sure that all of the information is accurate. Personnel directors will verify education and employment information, so be sure to include names, addresses, zip codes, and phone numbers.

EXPANDING THE JOB SEARCH IN SCHOOLS

While you follow up on job leads that are generated by your college's placement office or that you hear about through your network, be sure to expand your job search to the following directories for more information and possible leads to full- or part-time work.
  • Directory of Public Elementary and Secondary Education Agencies in the United States

  • Directory of Canadian Universities

  • Directory of Public School Systems in the United States

  • Education and Hiring Guide for Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming

  • Patterson's American Education

  • Private Independent Schools

  • Private Schools in the United States

  • The Canadian Almanac and Directory
EXPANDING THE JOB SEARCH IN BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY

People who are interested in teaching technology in business and industry need to explore ways to gain on-the-job experience though internships or carefully planned summer employment.

There are several excellent sources of information on internships. Your university's placement office will have listings of internships, and there are a number of directories that list internships in technical fields. A few of the directories that may prove helpful are:
  • National Directory of Internships: Patterson's Guide

  • Student Guide to Mass Media Internships

  • New Careers Directory: Internships and Professional Opportunities in Social Change
The process of selecting and apply for an internship in business or industry is essentially the same as applying for volunteer experience in education. Your first step is to use the directories to research information about the possible internships. As you select possible sites, you will need to consider transportation and time commitments. You will also need to consider the kind of work experiences that will be most beneficial to you. Your next step is to find out the name of the personnel director for the business. Then compose a carefully written and carefully proofread letter that explains what you can offer the company and describes what you hope to learn from the internship.

Summer work is another valuable source of experience. There are several directories that can help you learn about companies in your field. Some print directories that can help you research your field are:
  • American Business Services Directory

  • America's Best Mid-Sized Companies

  • Advanced Marketing Technology

  • ACM/SIGGRAPH Education Directory

  • Corporate Media Directory

  • Corporate Training Directory

  • Corporate Technology Industry Association Membership Directory
Once you have used the print directories to identify companies in your field, look for companies that are in your geographic area. You may wish to research Internet directories to see if these companies have home pages or web sites that might provide additional information about internships or employment opportunities.
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