The T-Cover Letter

by Janice

Debbie MastelThe style and formatting of excellent resumes and cover letters can vary depending on geography and industry and change over time. The T-cover letter is a newer format that is tremendously popular with hiring manager and recruiters. Debbie Mastel, one of the library's Strategic Networking program volunteers, answered a few of our questions about the T-cover letter:

When should someone use a T cover letter?

DM: It doesn’t matter if you’re using transferable skills or an exact match to a posting, the T cover letter should always be used. If you don’t have a posting then you can do some research to figure out what you think the requirements for their organization would be. This can be done by getting old postings or postings from other companies. This style is also difficult when writing a cover letter in to an e-mail instead of an attachment so I recommend people have templates for the letter that can easily be used in either Word format or e-mails.

Do you prefer the format? Why?

DM: Yes, I do prefer the T cover letter format, as I believe it serves three main purposes:

  1. It assists the recruiter, especially if they’re junior and working on technical roles. It allows applicants to clarify acronyms, or similar systems they may have worked on.
  2. When a recruiter is using key words to score resumes. Because of volume, sometimes recruiters rely on systems to rate resumes. According to Right Management, 94% of the top 500 U.S. companies are now using computer programs to evaluate resumes. Canada is sure to follow suit.
  3. When you’re using transferable skills to obtain a position. Countless times I’ve received resumes from people clearly using transferable skills but I can’t make the connection. I remember a colleague of mine once getting the resume for a fellow who groomed ski hills and had mentioned she didn’t see him fitting anywhere. Luckily it was brought to her attention that he might be a fit for a Heavy Equipment Operator position. We ended up hiring him as that but other people aren’t so lucky.

Recruiters don’t have time to figure out where you fit, that’s your job. The t-letter cover letter makes you articulate why you are qualified for the role. This is what you’re asking for, this is what I have.

Would you suggest that any job hunter should use this format for their cover letters? Are there any instances in which you wouldn't prefer the T cover letter?

DM: The only time I can think of that this format may not work is for Academics or people that need to submit a CV instead of a resume. I’m not that familiar with this area but that’s the only example I can think of. I would welcome comments from others if they have reasons this cover letter wouldn’t work for them.

Can you give one or two anecdotal examples of people you've hired or Strategic Networking customers who have found that the T cover letter opened doors that may not have otherwise been opened?

DM: I asked some job searchers to share their feelings about the usefulness of the T-cover letter. Here is one response:

The reason I believe the two-column T cover letter worked well for me in the past was because it was significantly different than writing three or four paragraphs as in a standard cover letter.

The T cover letter was simple to use. First, I underscored the keywords or phrases in the job description’s requirements and qualifications sections that fit my background, experiences, and skill sets. Then, I filled out the position’s key requirements in the table’s left column and aligned them with my matching skill sets or experiences in the right column.

The concisely-worded bullet points in two column format immediately captured the hiring manager’s attention without him having to read longer paragraphs. My T cover letter intrigued and interested him. I was able to zero in on the value I could provide that related to the hiring manager's and position's needs, and, consequently, the hiring manager continued with reviewing my resume. In summary, the T cover letter helped me to (1) focus my reply, (2) save time, and (3) avoid responses to inappropriate job postings.”

March 19: Debbie sent another response from someone who had great success with the T-Cover Letter:

"The T Cover letter is the most effective cover letter I did come across in my entire professional career. It was introduced to me by Debbie in one of the networking meeting I attended. From the time I heard about it, it really did strike me and I know it was the correct formula I was looking for to grab employer attention. By that time I was around just 5 weeks in Canada and everything was new to me. I was quick enough to change my formats to T letter and also customize my resume to go with that.

Within a week I got an interview at a Big Oil & a Gas Company, and another one at a IT company. I almost got the Oil & Gas job, and the Hiring manager was complimentary of my cover letter. After about 2 weeks I got an interview at DeVry University and now I am working there,.

I am glad to say I attended that networking meeting and met Debbie, where I learned all about the best secret in finding employment—the T cover letter. Thanks to it, I am now working in less than 12 weeks from moving to Canada. I think it’s a great tool and many people should start using it, it also helps you focus and identify your suitability to the job and helps you easily focus on target than be general in applying. Thanks Debbie.”

For more information about the T-cover letter:

A template of the T-cover letter: Workopolis Sample of the T-style cover letter.

Thoughts from another recruiter on the T-cover letter: The "T" Cover Letter—The Only Type Worth Sending.

Debbie Mastel volunteers with the enormously popular Strategic Networking program that runs on the Third Floor of the Central Library every Thursday evening from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Debbie is a Critical Talent Specialist with Devon Energy Corporation in Calgary.

Hot Off the Press: February 2012

by Cher K - 0 Comment(s)

ACT: Strategies, Practice, and Review 2012

This essential ACT guide provides focused strategies, practice, and review so candidates score higher on test day--guaranteed. This book covers all material tested and includes two full-length practice tests, an online diagnostic quiz, detailed answer explanations, and more.

New GMAT Premier, 2012-2013

The GMAT is changing in June 2012. The new GMAT will have a new Integrated Reasoning section that will have interactive questions that test a student's ability to analyze and interpret charts, spreadsheets, graphs, and data. This book will help students study for the June 2012 test change and ensure they are prepared.

Business School Essays That Made a Difference by Nedda Gilbert

Most top business schools require multiple essays, and this book is your best bet for acing them all. This book contains actual student essays that tipped the balance between admission and denial, as well as interviews with admissions pros and with students who've been through the process and made it to business school.

Job Interviews for Dummies by Joyce Lain Kennedy

Does the thought of interviewing for a new job send shivers down your spine? It doesn′t have to! Whether you′re searching for your first job, changing careers, or looking for advancement in your current line of work, this book shows you how to use your skills and experiences to your advantage and land that job

Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? by William Poundstone

Poundstone guides readers through the surprising solutions to dozens of the most challenging job interview questions, Zen-like riddles, and other interviewing techniques candidates need to know. The book covers the importance of creative thinking, ways to get a leg up on the competition, and much more.

Help with the Academic CV

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

We aim to please! One of the Calgary Public Library's volunteer career coaches, Saudah Chan, suggested that we purchase her favourite book on academic CVs, and it just arrived. Here's her review of a book that handles the tricky field of academic disciplines:

For the academic job search novice, The Academic Job Search Handbook, 4th edition would prove useful as a general overview of preparation required two years before completion of one’s PhD, the hiring and application process, and interview considerations. Also useful are the newly added sections of dilemmas facing dual career couples and family planning. While the introduction indicates that its contents are geared towards American academic applicants, it would still prove useful as a generalist perspective.

The book also has delightful new additions including more CV samples, as well as sample teaching statements and non-academic resumes. For teaching dossiers, Surviving Your Academic Job Hunt by Kathryn Hume would provide more in-depth advice, and could also be considered by those in other disciplines such as physical and life sciences, including the summary of teaching evaluation samples provided.

Overall, this book is must-read for those who wish to demystify the academic job hunt, and wish to prepare early on for the next stage in their career.

Saudah enjoyed advising PhDs on the academic job search for five years at the University of Toronto Career Centre as coordinator of the Graduate Dossier Service and her presentations on How to Apply to Academic Jobs. Currently, she continues to assist PhDs with their job related inquiries.

Hot Off the Press: January 2012

by Cher K - 0 Comment(s)

Poised for Success by Jacqueline Whitmore

In these unsettled times, we're all trying to get back to basics and your competitive advantage depends on your ability to use your emotional intelligence and social graces to take your career to the next level.

Reboot Your Career by Peter Fogel

Peter Fogel will show you how to reinvent yourself and unleash your "inner Entrepreneur" so you can quickly attract more meaningful challenges, be in demand, and yes ù make more money at your job!

Your MBA Game Plan by Omari Bouknight

This edition includes even more sample essays and resumes from successful applicants, fresh insight on 35 leading business schools from around the world, and advice specifically tailored to international applicants.

NCLEX-RN : Strategies, Practice, and Review, 2011-2012 edition by Barbara J. Irwin

In order to become a registered nurse (RN) in the United States graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN test. Kaplan NCLEX-RN 2011-2012 Edition with CD-ROM is the only book to combine test prep strategies with a comprehensive content review designed to meet the challenges of this rigorous exam.

ACT Strategies for Super Busy Students

The ideal ACT study tool from Kaplan, the test prep experts, created specifically for the busy student who wants to get the highest score possible but is low on time.

USMLE Step 3 Qbook

Containing Kaplan-exclusive strategies, new practice questions, and thorough review, this book contains more than 850 exam-like questions, detailed answer explanations, access to a sample online Question Bank, updated test-taking and strategies, and more.

Mcgraw-Hill's Nursing School Entrance Exams by Thomas A. Evangelist

Up-to-the minute preparation for the nursing school entrance exams--from the most trusted name in medical/nursing publishing!

Mentorship: Worth the Effort

by Janice - 2 Comment(s)

Calgary career development professional Brian Lambier of Career Vitality Services Inc. answers our questions about mentorship, its importance and mentorship opportunities.

Come join us on Friday, January 20 from 11:45 to 1:00 on the Third Floor of the Central Library for Brian's program: Mentorship: Outside the Box. Brian Lambier of Career Vitality Services

1. Job searchers need to be aware that while mentors can help develop your career, their role is not to find you a job. In your experience, what are the most useful skills that mentors can help develop?

People believe that they have to be connected to an organization first to take advantage of a mentorship relationship. I believe that the individual must first truly understand who they are before they explore mentorship. What I mean by this is that it is important they have a clear understanding of their values, skills, abilities, interests and career desires. From that they need to be able to set a career direction and some concrete goals with a series of baby steps to reach those goals. This is where the career development professional comes in; it is their job to help people gain a broader understanding of their own individual footprint or foundation.

Mentoring is the process in which successful individuals (mentor) will help others establish goals and develop the skills to reach their goals.

Mentoring can help you acquire skills, increase confidence, widen your perspective, avoid errors, enhance your career and life, and help you succeed.

The type of skills that the mentor can help develop really depends on the type of mentorship relationship that exists between the mentor and mentee;

  • A Developmental mentorship relationship will see the mentor be able to offer the mentee develop new skills and abilities. The mentor acts as a guide and a resource for the mentee's growth.
  • A Sponsorship mentorship relationship occurs when mentor takes a close interest in the progress of the mentee and they influence others to support the mentees career advancement through providing them with opportunities. They in essence become a cheerleader and what I call the “doorman” opening doors of opportunities for the mentee.

2. Why do you think few Calgarians take advantage of mentoring opportunities?

This is a good question. I believe that many people take advantage of these opportunities. Immigrants and youth in particular have many opportunities to access these programs and do so through any number of social service organizations in the city. There are also many people in the corporate world that access programs through their organizations, professional organizations or institutions of higher learning.

I would agree that there are many people don’t take advantage of mentoring opportunities. I believe this is for many of the same reasons people do not engage the services of a career coach:

  • Many people don’t really understand the value of what a mentor can provide to them both personally and professionally
  • Many people have not done the work to have a clear understanding of who they are and where they want to go so they are not motivated to ask for help
  • Many people don’t set personal or career goals
  • Many people do not truly understand the goals of the organization where they work, how their role fits into the company goals and the internal avenues they can access to develop a plan to meet their goals
  • Organizations may not have a commitment to sustain and grow their employees
  • Middle managers that are supervising employees may not have the skills or been given the latitude of responsibility to identify individuals within the organization to participate in such programs.
  • Mentoring opportunities are not always apparent unless you network connect, explore and dig for opportunities
  • Many individual’s hesitancy to make the commitment to the mentorship relationship and process
  • An individual’s fear of change or their feeling that they cannot change
  • Many people think they can do it themselves.

3. Are there programs in Calgary for those interested in mentoring opportunities? (We often have immigrant clients who are interested in doing so.)

The following is a list of some of the programs offered in Calgary by a variety of different organizations in the Calgary area. (This is certainly not an exhaustive list.)

  • U of C Graduate Students Association—the Career and Mentorship Program
    Helps graduate students attain their desired career goal—whether it's re-entering industry after graduation (as 70 per cent of grad students do) or continuing with academe. This program is free, and helps grad students make professional contacts by pairing students with a mentor in their field of interest.
  • Bow Valley College Mentoring Internationally Trained Professional
    A bridging program to fast track foreign-trained professionals into the Canadian workplace. United Way and Bow Valley College have entered into a partnership to offer a mentoring program for internationally educated professionals through the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC). Internationally Educated professionals face a variety of obstacles when arriving in Canada. The information and guidance they receive can be critical to making decisions related to their career and skill development and finding meaningful employment. The goal of the mentoring program is to connect immigrant professionals with working professionals in a mentoring partnership.
  • Calgary Youth Mentoring Coalition
    Fifteen different Youth Serving organizations offering a variety of mentorship programs and services to youth through their individual organizations.
  • CIPS Alberta MentorNet
    Has partnered with MentorNet to bring an e-mentoring program to the membership, promoting mentorship relationships between college students (protégés) and IT professionals (mentors). Protégés gain invaluable career advice, encouragement and support, while professionals lend their expertise by helping to educate and inspire young professionals. Students are asked to fill out a profile specifying what they are looking for in a mentor, and then are matched in one-on-one email relationships with industry mentors who have relevant experience in the IT field. This one-on-one relationship takes approximately 15 minutes per week and is free to both the protégé and the mentor. The official e-mentoring relationship lasts approximately eight months.
  • Immigrant Services Calgary Integrated Women’s Mentorship Program
    The Integrated Women’s Mentorship Program links established professional women with new immigrant and refugee women to assist them in overcoming barriers to employment and help them realize their full potential in Canada as individuals and professionals. The program serves immigrant and refugee women who have the ability to effectively communicate in English but are experiencing difficulties looking for a professional job in Canada
  • The Project Management Institute Southern Alberta Chapter (PMI-SAC)
    Offers the Mentorship program to its membership each year. There are two intakes per-year: Fall (September) and Winter (January). This program is designed to provide you with guidance and advice on moving your career to the next level.
  • The Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC)
    In partnership with Calgary employers and CRIEC community partners, has recently embarked on an initiative to bring skilled immigrants and established professionals together in occupation-specific mentoring relations. The goal of the program is to help build inclusive workplaces and strengthen the ability of Calgary organizations to attract and retain talent.
  • University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business Mentoring Program
    This business school along with business partners in the community offers its students several mentoring programs including the Calgary Hotel Association Mentorship Program, the Enbridge Incorporated Undergraduate Mentorship Program, the MBA Mentorship Program and the Petroleum Land Management Mentorship Program. Each of these programs pairs students with experienced business personnel from the world of industry in the Calgary region.
  • The First Calgary Financial Mentorship Program with Theatre Junction
    Brings students together with mentors from Theatre Junction’s Company of Artists including actors, directors, technicians and designers for a unique look at what happens backstage. As part of the First Calgary Financial Mentorship Program, students have the opportunity to learn about creating their own original performance through an intensive workshop series, invitations to private rehearsals and backstage tours. Mentoring relationships will develop throughout the year and students will have a chance to speak one-on-one with Company artists and Theatre Junction staff about their profession.
  • Cybermentor
    An online mentoring program that matches girls aged 11 to 18 with professional women scientists and engineers or female students at Alberta universities who are studying science and engineering. The primary goal of the Cybermentor program is to expand girls’ knowledge of careers, opportunities and benefits that exist for women in science and engineering fields. The girls have the opportunity to communicate with mentors from diverse fields, expanding their options for potential career paths in the process. The second goal is to provide a motivation for girls to continue in their math and science studies through interaction with women role models who are studying and practicing in these fields.
  • Lilith Law Mentoring Program
    A one-on-one mentoring program designed to provide mentoring relationships between women lawyers and judges, and develop, retain and advance women lawyers through reciprocal learning, relationship building, and personal and professional development.
  • Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) Mentoring Young Entrepreneurs Program
    We know that young people have great business ideas and can benefit from a bit of help to make them a reality. In addition to our community partners, entrepreneur-in-residence and Online Business Resource Centre, CYBF provides mentoring from experienced business professionals to help set you apart from the competition while launching and growing your business.

Brian Lambier is the owner of Career Vitality Services Inc. in Calgary, Alberta and specializes in career and retirement transition coaching and corporate training. He can be reached at (403) 978-9134 or Brian has two upcoming programs at the Central Library: Friday, January 20 from 11:45 to 1:00 on the Third Floor of the Central Library for Brian's program: Mentorship: Outside the Box (Friday, January 20 from 11:45 to 1:00, Third Floor Central) and Champions of Learning 2012: the New Retirement (Saturday, March 24)

Thanks to the Centre for Newcomers for reminding us about other Calgary mentorship opportunity: The Peer Mentorship Program for Professionals at the Centre for Newcomers Application Deadline: Wednesday February 29th, 2012 Training for selected mentors: Saturday March 3rd, 2012 (10:00 am to 12:00 pm) Orientation and group matching for mentors and mentees: March 10th, 2012 (10:00 am to 1:00 pm) To apply: please contact Camilo at 403-569-3349 or This program is a partnership betwwen the Centre for Newcomers, the Association of Colombian-Canadian Professionals of alberta (ACCPA), the Chinese Professionals Entrepreneurs Association of Calgary (CPEAC), and the Nigerian Canadian Association of Calgary (NCAC) and started activities in September 2010.

Finding Work in Alberta’s Energy Industry

by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

For those looking to work in Alberta’s energy industry, industry forecasts from organizations such as the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) and The Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada show that there will be a shortage of skilled oil and rig workers in 2012.

The Petroleum HR Council created an excellent website devoted to helping those who want to find information on or a job in the industry: Careers in Oil + Gas.

Careers in Oil + Gas has sections listing job boards in the Petroleum Industry, tips and tools for job seekers and a Day in the Life section that features interviews and videos of people working in the industry.

The Petroleum HR Council has also worked with the industry to create the Petroleum Competency Program to help address industry HR issues. The following video clip from their site talks about how the program works with entry level workers:

Petroleum Competency Program

For more information about the forecasted shortage of oil workers:

Oil worker shortage forecast to hamper 2012 drilling (CBC website)

Canadian Rig Worker Shortage Prevails, Despite Innovative Training (Rigzone)

Both Rigzone and the new CAODC Service Rig Website have information and job postings for oil and rig workers.

For more information about jobs and careers in the Energy Industry, the Alberta Learning Information Services (ALIS) Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction Industry ALIS Occupational Profiles and the Petroleum HR Council Occupational Profiles are a good place to start.

Please contact the Third Floor, Central Library at 403-260-2782 or if you would like more information about jobs in the Oil and Gas Industry in Calgary or Alberta.

Creating and Managing an Online Identity For Job Seekers

by Julia Brewster - 0 Comment(s)

Creating and maintaining an online presence is an important part of your job search. Many people I speak with do not feel that it is necessary for them to have an online identity. However, it is not uncommon for potential employers to Google job applicants. Knowing this, it becomes more apparent why it is so important to have an online presence. When you are googled you want information that YOU want to appear to be there and wow your potential employer!

Creating an online presence does not mean you must suddenly join Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all at once! If you are just interested in a strictly professional presence then LinkedIn is where you should be focusing your attention. LinkedIn is like a Facebook for professionals and offers a great way for you to network and keep in contact with that network. Maintaining and creating relationships with people in your field of interest is integral to you being successful in your job search and LinkedIn acts as a tool to enhance these networks and relationships.

LinkedIn allows you to highlight important work experience and gives you an ability to control what pops up if your name is googled. Having a LinkedIn profille pop up in google is better than having nothing appear at all!

Read more about this topic from the Harvard Business Review article Managing Yourself: What's Your Personal Social Media Strategy?

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