Get Off the Pile: Cover Letters, 2017 Edition

Here at Afterword, we want to provide helpful advice to guide you through the real world of job searches, interviews, personal finance and much more. This series “Get Off the Pile” is where we focus on these topics.

Right now, a lot of you are job searching, or preparing for that process as the summer winds down, so, this week we ask “how can you get off the pile of endless applications with a stellar cover letter”?

Andrew Flewelling, our HR expert at the UVM Foundation has some helpful tips for how to write great cover letters. Andrew has a graduate degree from UVM and is the Senior Director of Human Resources here at the UVM Foundation. Today he’s going to discuss writing expert cover letters.

The Basics

When it comes to cover letters, the most common mistake I see is that the applicant merely restates what their resume says. I CAN read, so there is no need to make a sentence out of a bullet that is listed on the next page.

Instead, a good cover letter is one that does my work for me. It clearly articulates why the position is of interest; and illuminates the skills and abilities that make the applicant special.

It’s great to talk about a few (2-3 max) examples of success. Bonus points if the applicant can quantify the success (% increase, overall sales, maximized efficiency by x measure, etc…).

What Makes a Cover Letter Stand Out?

The letters that really stand out are the ones in which the applicant takes their experiences, skills, and successes, and synthesizes them for me, highlighting their direct and/or transferable nature for the position they seek. The best letters demonstrate that the writer knows enough about the position to be able to overlay their own skills on what we are looking for.

Tips for Writing a Stand-out Cover Letter

1. Keep it to one page. And be aware of the formatting — dense, long paragraphs in eight point type are not good practice.

2. State the important. In the opening paragraph, mention the position applied for and where the listing was posted. In the rest of the letter, discuss what the position requires (skills, characteristics, temperament, values, etc.) and demonstrate/prove that you possess those requirements.

3. Mix it up. Use a good mixture of short declarative statements and longer, multi clause sentences to make sure the letter flows.

4. Be Yourself. Don’t be afraid to inject a bit of personal passion. Depending on the position, it may be appropriate to articulate your understanding of the importance of the position to the company, industry, society overall. You should also be able to articulate why the position is important to you.

5. Read it out loud. Hearing yourself will help you catch mistakes, missed references or awkward phrasing. Have a friend do this with you too, it always helps to double check.

6. Proofread to perfection. Incorrect grammar, spelling, and punctuation are non-negotiable deal breakers.

Get Off the Pile: A Survey for You!

We want to help! For the past year we have been offering up career tips and hacks through our Get Off the Pile series, now we want to expand and include tips from experts at UVM on how you can best manage your personal finances.

Personal finance can be tricky in the 21st century (how many of you feel like you spend all of your money on food and rent?)

We’ve certainly been there.

Sometimes it feels like it’s difficult to get ahead and save money with student loans and everything else we are paying for. How can we still do what we want to do AND be fiscally responsible at the same time?

Take a minute and fill out our quick survey about what personal finance advice you would find most helpful in our upcoming posts.

Have a great weekend!

Kathryn & Ryan

Class of 2017: Check-in Survey

Wow! It’s been two months since you graduated. That might feel like a really long time, or no time at all. It really depends on what you are up to. With that in mind, we have a survey for you to complete so we can check-in and see how you are doing.

As we mentioned in our first post for you, we are here to help you navigate your first year out of college. We are not keeping track of how many jobs you have. Trust us, that would stress us out too.

Everybody has a different plan and we want to find out where you are and what you need so we can support you through this challenging and exciting first year out of UVM.

The more we know, the more helpful we can be.

So we’ve put together a quick five question survey to touch base.

To make it more fun, we’re giving away a free UVM Long Sleeve Shirt to three randomly selected survey respondents!

Fill out the survey and enter to win a UVM shirt!


Kathryn and Ryan

What’s the Deal with My UVM Email? 2017 Edition

You’ve had your UVM email address for 4+ years now and you may be wondering what’s going to happen with it now that you are an alum.

Two things are going to happen very soon:

  1. You’ll get some weird messages about your current email account, but don’t despair, you’ll have it for a few more months at the least.
  2. You’ll have the chance to create a permanent, lifetime UVM email address. And, you get to log-in using your current NetID and password (nothing new to remember!).

First, the weirdness.

If you haven’t already, one of the first things you’ll get is a cryptic-looking email from UVM that reads like this:

This is an automated email sent to all recent graduates like yourself that makes you feel like you are reading this:

It is definitely confusing and looks like someone may have hacked your account, but don’t worry, it’s really just a message to let you know that a change is coming to your NetID and email.

The most important thing you need to know is that if you want to keep a UVM email address forever, you can very soon!

Your email address will keep working for another few months, and soon, you will have the option to receive a lifetime email address that ends with You’ll activate your account using your existing NetID and password — super simple.

Your lifetime alumni email address will be available in just a few weeks and you’ll get a message announcing when you can log-in from the Alumni Association.  We will be sure to remind you as well.

And, just to get you thinking, here are 5 great reasons to use your alumni email account:

  • 50 GB of inbox space (miserly Gmail only gives you 15 GB)
  • No advertising and no data harvesting (we’re looking at you again, Gmail)
  • Allows you to keep a consistent email address as you change jobs, addresses, and internet access providers.
  • You can have it flow right into your mail app on your phone (just like when you were a student).
  • You get to rock your school spirit in email form — forever.

And while we’re at it, if you’ve moved recently, feel free to update your mailing address here, so you don’t miss any of our fun stuff in your home mailbox:

Domino’s, Dining Halls and Dives. Your Favorite Burlington Eateries, Part 1

This week we are launching a new series where we visit our favorite Burlington haunts, bring one of you with us for lunch, and discuss why these spots will always have a place in our heart.

(You can sign-up to come to lunch with us next month at the bottom of the post)

Burlington has a lot of great eateries, so it’s easy to associate your time at UVM with lots of great food. We are still finding new restaurants, while also revisiting old favorites and want to share that experience with you.

Our first stop is Henry Street Deli!

In case you didn’t know, Henry Street had a fire about a year ago, and thankfully without too much damage. They had to close for what felt like forever, but this provided an opportunity for some renovations. It’s still the same Deli we all know and love.

This week we had lunch with Dana Elleman ’16

What are you up to now?

It has been a year since I graduated and decided that I wasn’t ready to leave Burlington. Right now I am a graphic design intern for the Annual Giving Team at the UVM Foundation. I do things like design letterheads, inserts, logos, case statements, blog videos and other web graphics. I really enjoy it and I have learned so much the past few months.

Why did you choose Henry Street? 

I picked Henry Street because recently I moved across town and haven’t visited since they reopened. I needed to check out the new digs and get my favorite BBQ chicken sandwich. The Henry Street staff is great. They are true sandwich artists, master crafts people.

Sometimes, when I am feeling adventurous and not wanting my classic BBQ chick I’ll get a wildcard: a specialty sandwich made by the Henry Street employees after asking you a few questions about your preferences. It’s like the surprise of what’s inside the cereal box, I have yet to be disappointed by a Henry Street Wildcard sandwich.

It’s also great because they have everything you need, if you run out of toothpaste or toilet paper even beverages. You can get it all in this one stop shop.

Us waiting patiently for Dana’s sandwich, so we could all eat together.

So what did we get?

Dana: BBQ Chicken with bacon.

Kathryn: Oven roasted turkey, provolone cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, tomato, green peppers, and pesto mayo.

Ryan: Chipotle chicken, roasted peppers and onions, chipotle mayo

We took our spoils to Pomeroy Park, and found a nice patch of grass to eat, and reminisce about our favorite memories of Henry St.

Why does Henry Street have a special place in your heart?

Dana: Henry Street has a special place in my heart because they basically fed me for a whole year. It’s quick and you can grab it on the go. The best thing is calling ahead and then your sandwich is ready when you get there. It’s like magic. Henry Street is the one constant in my life.

Ryan: I didn’t live downtown until I moved back up to Burlington (Redstone Apartments, represent), so I never got the undergraduate Henry St. experience. Luckily I lived nearby during grad school and honestly ate there every weekday during the fall and winter. It was just WAY too good.

Each morning on the way to the library (being at the library was my job) I would order two breakfast sandwiches on english muffins: one with bacon, egg and cheese, and the other with sausage, egg and cheese plus ketchup. Nothing fancy, but somehow the flavors were extravagant, the heat of the sandwich cutting through the crisp morning air.

I have fond memories walking up the hill eating one, and then scarfing the second and washing it down with a large coffee in the library later in the morning. Even if the sandwich was cold, it was delicious. That combo will be forever connected to my studies. Now, every visit is a nostalgic reflection of yesteryear.

Kathryn: Henry Street was a weekend staple during my Junior/Senior year of college. No matter how hard my week had been with exams, papers, or the general struggles of college life, I could always rely on a Saturday morning walk to Henry Street Deli to clear my head, and a beautiful sausage egg and cheese breakfast sandwich to be waiting when I arrived there.

After college, my weekend relationship with Henry Street changed a bit. Now, my boyfriend and I usually swing by to grab a large sub before we head to the beach for the day, and it will feed us ALL DAY ( Trust me, that small sandwich had a full pound of turkey in it- their large sub is the size of a small child!).


We’re hoping to get out and visit all the classic Burlington eateries this year, but to do that we’ll need your help.

Sign-up to come to lunch with us and we will pick a random winner to join us for next month!

Where will we go next…it’s up to you!