NetWorks Sports Career Advice: How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

NetWorks Career Advice: How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

Preparing an effective cover letter is equally as important as writing your resume.  The cover letter is used to sell your resume by communicating to your potential employer how your skills and experiences are a match for the position for which you are applying.  However, preparing a poorly written cover letter is worse than not doing one at all. This post will give you a few pointers on how to make your first impression a lasting one.


Cover Letter Do’s

  • Tailor each cover letter to a specific employer.
  • Type the cover letter in the same font as your resume.
  • Use paper that matches your resume.
  • Keep it short and sweet!  Three to five paragraphs maximum.
  • Use the recruiter’s name and title.
  • Market yourself as a good solution to the employer’s needs.
  • Highlight the key points of your resume.
  • Conclude with a commitment to action…tell employer what you will do next.
  • Fit the letter on one page with one-inch margins on every side.
  • Sign the letter using black ink.


Cover Letter Dont’s

  • Mention personal weaknesses or perceived shortcomings.
  • Say that you will do “any” job.
  • Forget to include your telephone number and e-mail address.
  • Use abbreviations.
  • Use a type font smaller than an 11 point.
  • Send form letters.
  • Forget to spell-check.
  • Exaggerate, brag or lie.
  • Forget to read, edit and re-read your letter for typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors.

If you have any additional advice for how to write an effective cover letter, please share with our readers by entering your thoughts in the comments section below.  We appreciate any additional advice for our readers.

To find out more career advice, follow us on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Sports Career Advice: Acing the Phone Interview

NetWorks Career Advice: How to Ace the Phone Interview

You just got word that you landed a job interview with a company that really interests you — only there’s a slight catch.  You won’t be meeting with your interviewer(s) face to face. Instead, you’ll be taking part in a phone interview, the results of which will determine whether you’re invited to meet with company representatives in person.

Many companies use phone interviews as an initial employment screening technique for a variety of reasons. Because they’re generally brief, phone interviews save companies time. They also serve as a more realistic screening alternative for cases in which companies are considering out-of-town (or out-of-state and foreign) candidates.

So the chances are pretty good that, at some point in your job hunt, you’ll be asked to participate in a 20- to 30-minute phone interview with either one person or several people on the other end of the line. In many ways, the way you prepare for a phone interview isn’t all that different from the way you’d get ready for a face-to-face interview — save for a few slight additions to and modifications of your list of preparation tasks.

Here’s what to do:

Treat the phone interview seriously, just as you would a face-to-face interview.
A phone interview seems so informal on the surface that it can be easy to fall into the trap of “phoning it in” — i.e., not preparing for it as well as you would for an in-person interview. Don’t get caught with your guard down. Be sure to research the company, study the job description, and practice your responses to anticipated questions, just as you would for any other interview.

Have your resume and cover letter in front of you.
You’ll almost certainly be asked about some of the information that appears on these documents. You might also want to have in front of you any supporting materials that relate to information in your resume and cover letter, like documents you’ve designed or written, a portfolio of your various projects, or the written position description from your key internship.

Make a cheat sheet.
Jot down a few notes about the most critical points you want to make with your interviewer(s).

  • Are there certain skills and experiences you want to emphasize?
  • Do you have certain interests or passions you want your interviewer(s) to know about and understand?
  • Be sure these pieces of information appear on your crib sheet. Then touch on them during the interview, even if your only chance to do so is at the end of the session when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions or anything to add.

Get a high-quality phone.
This isn’t the time to use a cell phone that cuts in and out, or a cheaply made phone that makes it difficult for you and your interviewer(s) to hear and understand each other.

Shower, groom and dress up (at least a little).
Odd advice? Perhaps. But focusing on your appearance, just as you would for a normal interview, will put you in the right frame of mind from a psychological standpoint. You won’t do as well in your phone interview if you’re lying in bed, for example, or if you’re draped over your couch in your pajamas.

Stand up, or at least sit up straight at a table or desk.
Again, there’s a psychological, frame of mind aspect to consider here. But on a more tangible level, research has shown that you project yourself better when you’re standing up, and you’ll feel more knowledgeable and confident.

Quick Tips:

  • Confirm the time of the phone call (i.e. possible difference in time zones).
  • Identify who will be calling whom.
  • Have appropriate phone numbers.
  • Try to determine all participating parties and the job titles of each.
  • Address any potential distractions in advance.
  • Interview in a quiet place.
  • Listen closely to the question before responding.
  • Do not hesitate to ask the interviewer to repeat the question or ask for clarification if you are unclear of what is being asked.
  • Do NOT answer incoming phone calls.
  • Do NOT eat or drink during the call.

Phone interviews can be tricky, especially since you aren’t able to read your interviewers’ nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language during the session — a big difference from the typical interview. But if you prepare well for your phone interview, you won’t need to read anyone’s nonverbals to gauge your performance. You’ll know for sure how you’ve done because you’ll be invited to a face-to-face interview, where you’ll have yet another opportunity to prove you’re the best person for the job.

Good luck on your next phone interview.  A solid interaction during a phone interview is the first step to getting an offer for a formal interview.  Take your phone interviews seriously!

If you have any additional advice for how to handle phone interviews, please share with our readers by entering your thoughts in the comments section below.  We appreciate any additional advice for our readers.

To find out more career advice, follow us on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Small Business Profile – Intelligent Ethos

The NetWorks Sports Small Business Profile is a brief vignette that provides a closer look at companies founded by individuals who have been involved in the sports industry at some point in their career.  These business owners will share their journey as an entrepreneur as well as insight for those of you interested in starting your own venture.

NetWorks Small Business Profile on Intelligent Ethos and its founder, Dana Winbush

Name: Dana Winbush

Title: CEO & Chief Strategist

Company Name: Intelligent Ethos, Inc.

Company Website:



When did you start your company and what was your inspiration for starting it?
Intelligent Ethos was officially incorporated in May 2010.  I am very passionate about entrepreneurship, and I had been trying to find my place along this path for some time.  After a long career in the workplace, with many ups and downs, I finally concluded that launching my own business was the only option that was acceptable for me.  I am equally passionate about seeing other entrepreneurs find success, and my company is designed to do just that.

What’s your Elevator Pitch?
Intelligent Ethos is a proven and efficient resource that substantially impacts short-term success and long-term growth of small businesses by generating steady and consistent revenue for you. Exhibiting the highest standards of excellence, we create tangible results in the form of business relationships and contracts.

What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
My favorite part of owning a business is having the freedom and flexibility to execute my vision every day and to conduct business with people that I choose.

Tell us about your career before you became your own boss.
After beginning my career in account management for national and global telecommunications companies, I transitioned into business development and sales for small businesses in 2002. Representing a human resources outsourcing firm and a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider, I have cultivated extensive relationships in the small business community, federal government contracting market, and the professional and trade association sector.

Were you previously involved in the sports industry?  If so, what capacity?
My sports history includes being the Head Manager for the Vanderbilt University Women’s College Basketball Program in 1994-1998 under Head Coach Jim Foster. During that time, we achieved one SEC Tournament Championship, one Elite Eight, and two Sweet Sixteens. I was also a team manager for the USA Basketball Training Camp for the World University Games and the Jones Cup in 1997.

What was your goal when starting the company?  Has that changed?  What is your long-term vision for your company?
When I started the company, my purpose was to help small businesses generate revenue so that they could survive, grow, and stabilize their businesses. The intent is to do this by building and managing customer relationships. At this time, in order for my own company to stabilize quickly, I need to work with more established companies. So, my current offering is more ideal for companies that have been in business at least 3-5 years instead of start-up companies. My long-term vision is to be able to support both types of companies.

What is it like running your own company?  Give us a “day in the life.”
I absolutely love running my own company. I love it! It’s all mine. I choose what I do every day. I work harder and I am more focused than ever. Each day, these are the things that I am focused on:

- Client Services and Client Satisfaction
- Positioning for Growth
- Financial Responsibility
- Investing in Relationships
- Building Solid Infrastructure

What are the greatest challenges of owning your own business?
The challenge of owning a business is that it’s a never-ending juggling act. You must review your priorities each and every day. There is no such thing as ‘coasting’. It’s always a grind.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve had in being an entrepreneur/business owner?
One of the biggest surprises I’ve had in being a business owner is my feeling guilty or uncomfortable about taking ‘breaks’.  For the first couple of weeks, I literally would rush through meals because I was so anxious to get back to work.  I have now created mechanisms to make sure I take care of my physical health, not letting the business run me down.

What are the greatest rewards of entrepreneurship & business ownership?
The greatest rewards of owning my own business are freedom of creativity and business strategy, flexibility to change direction or priorities at any time, and choosing and controlling my work environment.

Is there a mentor (or mentors) that has helped you along the way?
I have many, many mentors that have helped and continued to help me along the way. The majority of these mentors are business owners or CEOs of large and small companies and non-profits. I have learned about their styles, and I know which mentor to talk with based on the particular need I have at any time. These mentors have greatly accelerated my professional growth, they have helped to shape my ability to make strong decisions, and they inspire me to continuously move forward and to aim for very big goals.

Please share any advice for readers who are considering starting their own business.
If you are considering starting a business, these are my three recommendations for you:
- Start sharing your business ideas & plans with potential customers as soon as possible. Knowing that you can get customers right away boosts your confidence in making the jump into entrepreneurship.
- Set-up your basic business infrastructure well in-advance of providing services or selling products. Infrastructure includes your business entity (Corp, LLC, etc), Federal Identification Number, Bank Account, Corporate Credit, and other related things. 
- Set-aside and stockpile as much CASH as you possibly can. Cash flow is King (or Queen) in early business survival. 
- Study pricing to make sure that you set your pricing appropriately. You do not want to undervalue what you do or what you are selling.

Favorite Book: The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Favorite Movie: Gladiator

Hobbies: Cooking and Swimming

Favorite Place to Vacation: Beaches in the Caribbean or Mexico

What’s playing on your iPod: I don’t have one. :) Otherwise, Pink

Android or iPhone:

Mac or PC: PC

Favorite TV Show: Criminal Minds

Favorite Restaurant: Oyamel in Washington, DC

Favorite Quote: Carpe Diem


For more information on Dana, log on to

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NetWorks Sports Career Advice: 8 Quick Networking Tips

8 Quick Networking Tips for your next event

At parties, seminars, and other group meetings you attend whether you are employed or not, you’ll have opportunities to network with a number of people.  Here are a few basic tips for handling those occasions:

  • Start a conversation, go up to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself.

  • Collect as many business cards as you can comfortably carry.  Make sure you have enough of your own business cards to dispense as well.
  • Avoid too much talk.  Have a strategy for what you want to say & learn.
  • Don’t wait for someone to suggest what he or she can do for you; propose how you might help your new contact.
  • Don’t talk to one person too long.  If a conversation gets stale, end it gracefully.  If the conversation is productive, make an appointment for drinks or lunch and move on to another person.
  • Don’t spend time with people you already know; instead introduce them to your new contacts.
  • Set goals for yourself; during each networking event, try to meet a certain number of people.
  • Always begin and end conversations with a positive statement.

Everyone can be a great networker. Practice makes perfect, so make sure you make the most of any situation that presents itself.

We’d love to hear any of your advice for networkers.  Leave your helpful tips in the Comments section below!

For more career advice, follow us on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Book of the Month – The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11)

This week’s NetWorks Sports’ Recommended Book is Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon.

With so much going on in our professional and personal lives these days from the polarizing political debates affecting the global economy and everyone’s personal finances to the challenges of a 24/7 workforce, it is difficult to maintain a positive outlook.  But regardless of your position in the home or in the office, you can inspire others to look on the brighter side of things simply by living your life with positivity.

We all know those individuals who you enjoy being around because they are always able to put things into perspective & remain upbeat even through adverse situations.  We all have the ability to positively affect our environment.  With a little focused attention…you can be the person to bring positivity.  It’s contagious!

That’s what Jon Gordon conveys in his bestselling book, which is inspiring people around the globe.

The Energy Bus is easy to read due to Gordon’s witty storytelling and insightful “10 secrets” for success (in life, home, and work). The best part was that the stories were about real people who are going through the same things that you & I are on a daily basis and the tips are simple & easy to incorporate into your life.

The book can probably be read in one sitting (or on a not too long flight), but you may find yourself wanting to backtrack to revisit a lesson that struck a chord with you.

The best thing is that you finish the book inspired with a plan of action to change the energy around you.

Definitely a book to recommend to your family, friends, and co-workers!