Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Open Cover Letters

My sister is an actor, and a couple years ago she wrote a post about generosity that really resonated with me. She said that if you see a great role that someone else would be perfect for, you should share it.  She said that to get other people to root for you, you have to root for them.  Its better to go through the stress of auditions with people by your side.

I really think the same is true for job hunting.  If we share information, we build a better community.  We’ve got people on our side and a higher quality of work.  That’s why I’m happy to feature Open Cover Letters today. This is a site which allows job hunters to share with each other the secrets of their success.  It provides good examples, which for me personally have created clarity and improved the quality of my work.  Please enjoy this interview!


Open Cover Letters


What is it?  Please give us your elevator speech!

Open Cover Letters aims to help inspire library job hunters write great cover letters. Over 60 hired librarians have graciously submitted cover letters they wrote as part of a successful library job application.

When was it started?  Why was it started?

I created the website in June 2011 after completing a job search. I found that existing cover letter websites were generic and unhelpful. I wished I could have read real examples of librarian cover letters. After accepting my current position, I approached friends and colleagues who were hired, and launched the website with five anonymized cover letters.

Who runs it?

Stephen X. Flynn, Emerging Technologies Librarian at the College of Wooster. Wooster, Ohio.

Are you a “career expert”? What are your qualifications?

I am not a career expert at all! Instead, I try to offer advice based on my real world experience both applying for jobs, and also now hiring. I have partnered with ALA JobLIST to present cover letter workshops at the Job Placement Center at ALA. I tell the story of my own job hunt, share what I’ve learned from hiring, and use a worksheet and activities to engage the attendees in reflective practice.

Who is your target audience?

If you are looking for a library job, whether you’re an MLIS student, or an experienced library administrator, you should benefit from reading successful library cover letter examples.

What’s the best way to use your site?  Should users consult it daily?  Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?

I think it’s best to browse the website as needed, and use the tags and categories to narrow down to a specific type of library or job description.

Does your site provide:

 Advice on:

 Cover Letters


Should readers also look for you on social media? Or is your content available in other formats? 

√ Twitter: @opencoverletter
√ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opencoverletters

Do you charge for anything on your site?

Open Cover Letters is not only free, but also licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?

Yes! When I started the website, I hoped that librarians who were helped would pay it forward by submitting their own cover letter. This has happened countless times as cover letter submitters have told me in the email that they found my website to be helpful. Some readers have also asked me for cover letter and resume advice directly, and one individual in particular told me that after making significant changes to the resume and cover letter, the rate of call-backs went up.

Stephen X FlynnAnything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

There is no magic formula to the perfect cover letter. Like other forms of composition, it’s a form of art that requires time and passion to succeed. Also, an outstanding resumé is just as important as an outstanding cover letter. The two should, in perfect synchronization, communicate your strengths and address the job requirements. You’ve heard the advice that you should tailor your cover letter, but you should also tailor your resumé.

A healthy support network is critical to getting through the job hunting highs and lows. Ask your friends, family and colleagues to critique your job applications. Reach out to hired librarians for advice and support. I know how tough the daily struggle is, and I believe that with the right combination of passion, initiative and support, you’ll be able to find an amazing job!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Open Cover Letters

  1. Pingback: Job Hunters’ Web Guide Guide | Hiring Librarians

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