Crafting a Cover Letter To Impress Employers, with Zerline Hughes Spruill

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If you're in the midst of a long job search, it can feel like you've exhausted every possible avenue to find a new job. Consider taking a closer look at your LinkedIn profile and connections, and revising your cover letter to find more success in your job search. On this bonus episode of the Find Your Dream Job podcast, I chat with Zerline Hughes Spruill, who is the Managing Director of Communications at the Advancement Project in Washington, DC about she used LinkedIn as a platform to grow her professional brand and attract attention from potential employers, and how she used her cover letter to refine her job search. Learn more about Zerline's career history below, in a Q&A featured as a part of our Success Stories series.

What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?

I am Managing Director of Communications for Advancement Project. I manage the strategic communications and outreach for a mid-size nonprofit that is dedicated to racial justice, particularly as it relates to voting rights, immigration and education.

How long did it take you to find this job?

Though I wasn’t actively looking for full-time employment, the process from start to finish took two months during the summer.

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?

LinkedIn really works! I wasn’t looking for a job, but heard with regular updates to LinkedIn, including weekly posts, comments and keeping your profile updated, that other users will notice you. This was the case with a headhunter who apparently found me on LinkedIn.

What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?

Because I wasn’t actively searching, there was no difficulty in the hunt. However, being patient over the two-month period with the one employer was difficult. As a contractor, I was squeamish about taking on new contracts in the event I was, in fact hired. But I understood that the process was going to take time because the organization wanted the right person for this leadership role; it was summer and staff wasn’t readily available for panel interviews and they didn’t want to rush into such a big decision.

What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?

When working with a search firm, ask them questions. Let them truly guide you by asking for their input on your resume, cover letter, interview input. They want you to succeed as much as you do yourself.

Why do you love your job?

I love my job because after only two weeks, I feel valued, appreciated and needed. I also love my job because I know what I’m doing – what we’re doing – makes a difference. Finally, I love my job because they hosted a staff retreat where staff really got to “retreat,” and relax, and team-build.

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