Cover Letter Advice from a Binghamton Alumna

Dear Ms. Paul,

As an employer and a Binghamton graduate (class of 91), I always take a careful look at the resumes and cover letters that arrive from Binghamton graduates.

Overall, I have been vastly disappointed in the material that arrives from recent college graduates--and not just those from Binghamton. At the risk of sounding like an "old fuddy-duddy," I can honestly say that kids today don't seem to have the same drive or attention to detail of previous generations.

I understand that some things have changed in the age of email, but most things have not. It is never acceptable to have typos in resumes or cover letters (especially now in the age of spell check), and there is no reason to throw the rules of grammar out the window either.

As a prime example, the overwhelming majority of emails I receive from recent graduates begin like this, "Hi, my name is Jane Smith, and I'm interested in....." I delete these immediately.

Other common mistakes include never referring to my company or what we do (our website is filled with information about us); saying that unrelated jobs or internships make them perfect for my firm ("My experience working at a health care company make me perfect for your PR firm."); and talking all about their experience while never once referring to how they can benefit my
firm or why they want to get into PR.

The cover letters and resumes that get my attention are those that are well-written (without typos), show that the writer knows exactly what my firm does and needs, and give me a sense that the applicant would become an asset to my firm. The truth is, these are entry level applicants, and attention to detail, good writing skills, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude are among the most important traits for success. I want letters/emails that demonstrate these characteristics without paying lip service to them.

Particularly, in this economy, graduates need to be extra conscientious about how they present themselves. Jobs are hard to come by, and employers can be extremely picky.

I apologize for the length of this email, but the situation has bothered me for a long time. Today I reviewed an email from a Binghamton graduate that put me over the proverbial edge, and I thought it would be worthwhile to write to you. I've attached the young woman's cover letter and resume here (and copied her email below my signature), removing the name so as to protect her privacy, as an illustration of many of the "don'ts."

Thank you for your attention. Go Bearcats!

Best regards,

Gail Katz Dukas
Chief Operating Officer
Dukas Public Relations, Inc.

Last Updated: 3/24/14