Book by Richard Fein
Review by Keokuk Kight
Coordinator/Academic Advisor
Clayton State University
College of Arts and Sciences

The 2nd edition of Cover Letters! Cover Letters! Cover Letters! is an excellent resource for career seekers from all backgrounds. Fein dissects the process of developing a cover letter that will get results. He speaks to the “thinking job-seeker” by breaking down the process into manageable sections. Background research highlights how job seekers can add value to their resumes through the use of an effective cover letter that strategically links job seeker’s talents, strengths and abilities to the needs of a prospective employer. The book takes the reader through the process of writing an effective cover letter through the job search experiences of Job Search Club (JSC) members. The JSC consists of 8 members; 5 experienced workers and 3 recent college graduates. Their experiences are used to exemplify the process for developing a high-quality cover letter for a wide range of occupations.  

Fein clearly articulates that an effective cover letter is essential to a successful job search strategy. A well written cover letter indicates sincerity about being considered for a job; it provides the author with an opportunity to highlight the resume as it supplies an example of his or her writing skills. The effective cover letter should clearly identify its purpose, the skills the author possesses, why the search committee should grant the job seeker an interview, and why the author wants to work for that specific company.  A “prototype” letter provides the basic format used by JSC members to tailor many different letters with a few strategic changes. In order to effectively create the prototype letter, some amount of research is required. It is important to gain information about the specific career, insight into the larger industry and it products, and relevant information about the company.  Several resources are identified that can aid in this process, e.g., Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance, U.S. Industrial Outlook and SIGI Plus, a software program.  Effective research enabled the JSC members to write cover letters that made an impact and helped secure interviews, even for those who were not obvious candidates for a position.  

Fein effectively addresses situations that may require letters that look slightly different than a typical outreach letter e.g., letters in response to vacancy announcements, follow-up letters to job fairs, and live job leads. An efficient networking process is also outlined that provides suggestions for preparation and sample questions. No book on this subject would be complete without a discussion of the “computer-based job search” and how it can be used to the job seeker’s advantage. Numerous sample cover letters, brief resumes and even rejection letters that detail how to gracefully turn down job offers are provided.  Although this book does not speak directly to a career search in the academy, its explanations, principles and examples can be easily applied to positions within higher education.  

Fein presents specific strategies and suggestions that appeal to a vast audience: those with a significant amount of work experience to those just starting out.  Cover Letters!  Cover Letters! Cover Letters! is a useful resource for an experienced advisor considering relocating or career advancement and for the graduating senior about to embark on the first career search.  I would strongly recommend the book to anyone looking for an effective tool to assist in writing an effective, results-oriented cover letter.

Cover Letters!  Cover Letters!  Cover Letters! (1997) Book by Richard Fein. Review by Keokuk Kight. Clifton Park, NY: Thomas Delmar Learning. 190 pp., $12.99, ISBN # 1-56414-262-0
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