Recently we interviewed Luke Antal ’07, Sr. V.P. of Finance & Operations for Pavé Life; an e-commerce company that facilitates the sale of tickets for high-end cultural events. Luke provided us with many words of wisdom which we will be highlighting over the next few weeks. As the December interim period begins Luke highlighted the importance of employer research in creating compelling cover letters and preparing for interviews.
LA: … at Pavé Life over the last year, we have relied heavily on Dartmouth interns to help our company here. So, this summer here, we had 5 or 6 ‘13s intern here. And so over the summer and this fall, those guys with advice “How are you best prepared for interviews and job applications?” What I told them is what I learned at school and what I know from the hiring side; is that you need to; obviously … put your work in on your resume. Everybody does that, it’s standard. Where you need to really shine is on the cover letter and put the extra time into networking and talking with folks to get a feel for what’s important in the mind of the company. I know what helped me get the job at IGS is that I did that. They really value their collegial atmosphere at IGS; I referenced that in my cover letter and I referenced that in my job interviews and that helped them understand that I had done my research and that I would be a good culture fit. And then from the hiring side, you know assuming that the resume is a qualified resume, what differentiates job applicants is really the cover letter. You can learn a lot from seeing somebody write, and seeing how they understand that a cover letter is meant to describe things that can’t be found on a resume; it’s meant to augment the resume, not just reference it and repeat what can already be found in two seconds by looking at it. So I really put a lot of emphasis on the cover letter. … the last step that I don’t think a lot of people do but I think is most important, is actually doing that preparation face-to-face with a friend or somebody who can be sitting across the table from you to try to mimic what it’s going to be like in the interview; if that’s possible. It’s not effective enough to just rehearse in your head or write down your answers in a Word document, it’s not effective enough to speak them out loud in front of a mirror. The only really effective way is to do it face to face with somebody, because at that point you realize “Wow! I am saying UHM a lot”; or “I don’t have a good answer for that question”; or “I need to focus on my eye contact”. You really have to go the full nine yards in the interview prep as far as the face to face stuff goes.
CS: We actually now do Mock Interviews in our office with staff. We do have the Tuck students help us with the finance and consulting interviews because they have the work experience. But it’s been really helpful and well received here.
CS: that’s great advice. And it sounds like researching the employer and knowing what is important to the employer is key to that, too.
LA: Yes! You have to research what the employer wants to hear. … So, research what is going to perk their ears up when they hear you say it and surprise them if (you) know that about (their) company, that’s what employers are going to remember once you leave the room.
The December break is a perfect time to reach out to alumni and to put that extra effort into researching the employers that interest you. Research includes the workplace dynamics/culture, as well as what tasks they assign interns and entry-level workers, and put that information into the cover letter. Rashelle, an intern at Career Services, also listened to Luke speak and reflected: “Use the cover letter to convey that you know the company’s objectives and projects as well as the culture and how you would fit in”.
Please note: Luke and his firm, Pavé Life, are seeking spring and summer marketing interns; interested students should view the internship description in DartBoard and apply by Jan. 15, 2013.
Andrew Kintner ’05, Jamie Gumpper ’06, Luke Antal ’07
Parts of a Cover Letter
Introduce who you are and why you are writing to the employer. Answer the reader’s question, “Why am I reading this letter?” Name the position or field you are interested in, how you learned of the opening or organization, and, if appropriate, who referred you. In a sentence or two, at most, explain what skills make you the best candidate for the position.
In one or two concise paragraphs, match your background to the needs and interests of the employer. Summarize your qualifications and give specific examples, without repeating your resume. Focus on your transferable skills, strengths, accomplishments, and results. Your research on the organization will be important here, because it will help you specifically link your qualifications with each employer.
In this brief paragraph, make a summary statement and refer the reader to your enclosed resume, then state what the next step is. End actively, with an offer to contact the employer within a specific period of time, usually one to two weeks. Confirm how they may reach you, via phone or email. Thank the reader for their time/consideration and remember to sign your letter.