Monday, May 23, 2016

How to Write a Cover Letter

You've discovered a cool job somehow--online, in an advertisement, through a friend, and now you have your application or resume ready to go.

But, you need to send a cover letter with it. How does that work?

It's just a short letter that will be on top of your other required papers, so it's like a 'cover.' Hence the name 'cover letter.' It is sort of a formality in which you refer to what they'll be seeing in your resume and/or application. You are introducing yourself to the people who will decide who to interview, and ultimately will make the hiring decision.

For the basics of typing any business like letter, see Triogenius of March 8: How to Write a Letter.

The content of a cover letter should be fairly brief, so choose your words carefully. It may make a difference in whether they want to interview you.

It's important to follow the directions as given for submitting your application. Address it as they ask, whether to a specific person or department. If you are sending it to department (often to Human Resources), you can still begin your letter with 'Greetings' or 'Dear Sir or Madame.' It is also acceptable to have no greeting and just begin the body of the letter. You should, however, always date the letter. If they have asked you to FAX your paperwork, then FAX it. Local stores, the library, and particularly office stores will often FAX something for you for a small fee (under $2.00). If they want you to send it via e-mail, do that. Ask for help if you're unsure how that works.
But if you are writing a regular letter on paper, here's what it may look like:

January 33, 1923

Mr. David Hireme
Gravytrain Flying Corp.
90273 Progress Lane
St Paul, MN 55112

Mr. Hireme,

I am enclosing my resume and application for the position of Chief Kitemaker with Gravytrain Flying.

As you will see, I have 30 years of experience in kitemaking. I excel particularly in reading kite blueprints and drawing designs for the kite wings. I previously worked as a kite-flyer as well, so am well-versed in all things kite.

My qualifications make me an excellent candidate for this position. I look forward to scheduling an interview so that we can discuss further details.

Please contact me at: phone 345 244 4222 or you may email me at

Thank you for considering me for this interesting position.


Fred Guppiter, Kitemaker Extraordinaire
345 244 4222

The letter should be printed on a clean sheet of printer paper. You may also consider printing your own letterhead, to make your name stand out when you send your cover letter; here is one source:

Personal letterhead just gives your letter a little more polish and makes your letter stand out from those simply printed on plain white paper. Your letterhead might look something like this:
Or like this:
After a review and using spell-check, try printing it first on ordinary paper to see what it looks like. Are the words centered on the page? If not, go into the document and add some spaces. Is the wording 'efficient' and to the point? It should be polished-looking, business-like, and not 'cute.' You can let your personality shine at the interview and when you actually get hired. For now, you want to put your best foot forward.

Fold the letter and any other papers properly, put them in a business envelope, and address the envelope to the person noted in the advertisement. If there was none, type "Human Resources" or "Hiring Committee" before the company address. You could also write "Attention: Human Resources" to the left of the address.

If there are more than three or four sheets of paper, you might need to add more postage. If in doubt, take it to the Post Office to have it weighed or simply add another stamp before you toss it in the mail box. Make sure you are available when they call to invite you to interview with them.

Good Luck!!!

What's Still Great About America

Have you noticed there is always plenty of complaining going on about the United States? Lately, it's been coming from within as we try to sort out who should be our next President. And that matters a great deal: Who do we want to lead us? Who do we want to represent our country to the other countries of the world?

But regardless of who is elected, we ought to keep in mind this fact: America is America, it's a great country, and nothing is going to change that. We've always been a country of immigrants, and people from elsewhere still want to come here.  Here's why:
  • We are far from perfect, but we have tried to right past wrongs and to give people a decent lifestyle.
  • People come here because of job opportunities they do not have in their home countries
  • They come here because at the least, we offer free public education from Kindergarten through the 12th grade, as well as pre-school opportunities and Special Education for children who need it. These things are simply not offered in some countries or come with a price tag too high for many people to pay.

  • There is also help paying for college, and in some situations scholarships help immensely.
  • Our Bill of Rights: Freedom of Speech, Religion, Assembly, Equal Justice

  • Freedom to travel anywhere in the country without being suspected of anything
  • Programs to help the poor with housing and food
  • High quality medical care
  • The United States does not have a mission of dominating the world. We'd prefer to live in peace with other countries if possible, and to fight for and with those who deserve better.
  • The U.S. is known for its humanitarian efforts to improve the standard of living for poorer countries: We donate food, medicine, and send teachers to help others, and we're there when a catastrophe occurs somewhere else.
  • We tend to forget we enjoy basic things such as clean water, good roads (for the most part) that are clearly marked, and freedom to dress any way you choose: these are other reasons why the U.S. is desirable.

  • Availability of a wide variety of foods which must pass standards of healthfulness, available in supermarkets in most communities
  • Separation of church and state
And let's not forget these things that were invented by Americans:
  • Computer
  • Internet                  
  • Cell phones   
  • Assembly line

  • Movie camera

  • Phonograph
  • First person to walk on the moon
  • Telephone
  • Microwave
  • Lasers
  • The first airplane flight
  • Zippers
  • Hearing aids
  • Defibrillator (to shock a heart back to rhythm)
  • Lasers
  • GPS
  • Video Games

  • (And most important of all) Chocolate Chip cookies

And this is because Americans are inventors, people who are encouraged to be creative and who know 'the sky's the limit' in this country. And when we fail, the rest of us say, 'Try it again!' and we do.

These are just some of the reasons people still want to come to the United States. What is your family's story? When did they arrive here? Why did they come here? Take some time to reflect on whether your life is better or not simply by living in the USA.

- "In America, your destiny is not prescribed; it is constructed. Your life is like a blank sheet of paper, and you are the artist. The freedom to be the architect of your own destiny is the force behind America's worldwide appeal. Young people, especially, find the prospect of authoring the narrative of their own lives irresistible."

 -Dinesh D'Souza
Read his excellent essay here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thank You!! Now Hire Me.

It's common practice to send a thank-you note to someone after a job interview. Who to send the note to?  Try to remember the name of at least one person from the company with whom you made contact. Ask for a business card. Be sure you spell the person's name correctly!

Send your thank-you the same day as your interview, preferably, or the next day at the latest.

The note should be an actual note card. You can purchase a package of several. You will want some that are fairly conservative. This:

Probably not this:

The 'Thank You' for a job interview should be very brief and to the point, and handwritten. It isn't meant to recap your interview, just to keep your name on the minds of those who interviewed you and to show courtesy and respect. To show your interest in the specific position and company, be sure you make each thank you 'personal.' For example:

Dear Ms. Lane,

Thank you for interviewing me on January 24 for the programming position. I enjoyed meeting you and learning more about JPM.

If you should have any further questions of me, I'd be happy to answer them. Just give me a call at 565-655-5666.

I am hoping to hear that you have selected me for this position, and look forward to working with you at Jukebox Programming Masters.


Then sign the card (legibly).  Slide it into the envelope and write the address neatly. Attach a return address label or write your return address in the upper lefthand corner. Put a stamp on it, seal it, and mail it. *Make sure you are actually available if they should call you with further questions, or hopefully with an offer.

Then, keep your fingers crossed, do some more interviews, write some more thank you notes, and eventually, you will be the new hire!

Monday, May 9, 2016

More End Of Year Advice: A Top Ten

Whether you're graduating from high school or college, or have just completed another step on your way to a degree, the end of the school year is fast approaching. You've probably heard words of advice here are 10 more:
  • 10. Realize that your advisor is really proud of your progress.

  • 9. What were you doing in 2012? Annnnnd boom, four years went by.  If you think another 3 years of high school, or 4 years of college, or even 2 or 1, is an impossibly long time, just remember how fast this year has gone by, and the past four years.

  • 8. When a class, or a teacher, is tough, realize that you can get through it and learn anyway.

  • 7. Be grateful to the people who helped you, and continue to help you, achieve your goals: parents, grandparents, friends, mentors, advisors, teachers. You have an army of people on your side helping you out. Ask them when you need help: That's what they are there for. And if you are graduating, keep in touch!

  • 6. When life is just getting on your nerves, hug someone, or a pet, or have a cupcake. The rough patch will pass. Trust us.

  • 5. Appreciate and value your friendships. Be there for them and they'll be there for you. Always think before you speak when you are angry. Once you've said it, no amount of "I'm sorry" is going to erase it. Oh, and PS: Spend some 'real' time with friends, not just on Facebook or via texting.

  • 4. Make a plan. Stick with it unless you see a better way.
  • 3. Be able to bend when you need to.

  • 2. Respect others, and respect yourself first.
  • 1. Relax. Celebrate. Revel. Be proud of yourself. Smile. There are more amazing things coming up in your life than you can even imagine. Because you are awesome.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Microblog: Careers With Minnesota Companies: Land O Lakes

Land O'Lakes....when we think of that, we think of dairy products.

  • The company is a co-op, which means it is member-owned. It is the 2nd largest co-op in the country. It began in 1921 with representatives from 320 creameries.
  • The co-op developed inspection, grading, and certification standards to insure a quality product. Other large dairies brought their standards up to be the same as Land O'Lakes.
  • Land O'Lakes produces 12 billion pounds of milk every year.
  • The brands Kozy Shack and Alpine Lace are a part of Land O'Lakes as well.
  • The name "Land O'Lakes" was given to the company in 1924 as a reflection of Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes.
  • Minnesota Headquarters are in Arden Hills, MN, but Land O'Lakes has locations throughout the U.S. and 60 countries worldwide.
  • Sales for Land O'Lakes were over $15 billion in 2014.
  • Refinement of the Native American maiden logo was done in the 1950s by a member of the Ojibwe Tribe, Patrick DesJarlait.
In addition, Land O'Lakes has two 'partners' in business:
--Purina---animal feed, not only for pets but for farm animals as well; and
--Winfield---A business dedicated to growing good crops, including developing seeds and seed coverings. Winfield helps make grass seed for lawns and:
  • Grass for golf courses
  • Lawn Management
  • Sports turf
 --The company acquired a satellite agency, Geosys, in 2013; it uses satellites to view if crops are doing well.

Land O'Lakes also has a commitment to feeding others in the world. Here's an interesting collection of blogs by interns who have worked with Land O'Lakes in an effort to combat world hunger:

Here are some job titles listed currently available with Land O'Lakes:
  • Equipment Tech
  • Law Clerk
  • Scientist
  • Seed Production
  • Sales
  • Recruiting
  • Human Resources
  • Data Analyst
Dieticians, cooks, bakers, and quality control people are also employed with Land O'Lakes in their test kitchens. Here's some more info on the test kitchens, and recipes using Land O'Lakes products:

Links to careers with Land O'Lakes and its other divisions here: