Winning marketing tools: Cover letters and references

Accompanying documents play a significant role in marketing yourself

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Carol Rau

Carol D. Rau, PHR, is a career consultant with GCSAA and is the Owner of Career Advantage, an employment consulting firm in Lawrence, Kan., specializing in golf and turf industry careers. GCSAA members receive complimentary resume critiques by Rau and her team, resume and cover letter creation for a reduced member rate, along with interview preparation and portfolio consultation. She can be contacted at

By Carol D. Rau, PHR

Most professionals in the golf and turf industries have a résumé and know its importance in conducting a successful job search. Did you know that the accompanying documents can also play a significant role as you market yourself? Yes! In this month’s career column, I will share tips and strategies for creating Cover Letters and Reference listings to help you be successful in your job search.

What is a cover letter? Simply put, it is an introduction letter associated with a résumé. This is your chance to introduce yourself to a prospective employer; an opportunity to create a winning first impression and provide insight into your career, experience and qualities as a professional.

First, keep your cover letter short and professional. In our fast-paced world, longer letters simply will not be read fully, and your best points will be overlooked. Three to four short paragraphs is typically sufficient. Describe two to three highlights in your career that directly relate to the target employer’s needs. Choose these carefully based upon your research and determining the key qualities you believe the hiring committee is seeking.

Second, answer the question in the reader’s mind, “Why are you applying for this job?” Mention a distinct aspect about their golf facility that prompted you to apply. Articulate your genuine interest in their specific facility, instead of simply writing that you are seeking a job and your experience matches the job posting.

Third, complement — don’t duplicate — your résumé. You are introducing yourself to inspire the prospective employer to want more details and engage in reading your résumé, not to simply summarize the résumé contents. Do not waste valuable space in your cover letter to list what is already in your résumé, rather give a glimpse of relevant achievements and gain interest for the reader to learn more about you.

As you consider references, I would like to offer answers to two primary questions my team receives often from GCSAA members:

Should I include references with a resume? Yes. Relationships can play a vital role in conducting a job search in the golf and turf industries. We recommend listing your references at the end of your résumé or attaching a reference page along with your résumé. Include three to five listings with name, title and contact information (including email), and best phone number.

Who should I list as references? Remember this is a strategic part of your overall career documents, not just an alphabetical listing of past supervisors. Consider the audience and the highlights you are conveying that are important to the hiring committee. Who would be best to support and reiterate your claims in these areas? Think of all aspects of your career and the individuals who can speak to your skills from various angles. In addition to listing a current and/or former manager, consider listing outside consultants, golfers/committee chairs, golf course architects, agronomy consultants and colleagues.

I challenge you to incorporate these strategies and create strong marketing tools to supplement your résumé. You will put your job search on a winning pathway to set you apart and ultimately advance your career.