Picture yourself at a nice restaurant. The person across from you is a blind date. What are the first things that come to mind? I believe most would agree that appearance and good conversation are quite important. Many students today are engaging in virtual blind dates, before even opening the restaurant door.
Popular smartphone apps offer the opportunity to “swipe right” if you are impressed by someone’s profile and “swipe left” if you are less enthused. If you swipe right on a profile, you are connected to that person and can begin communicating by using instant messages. If you swipe left, you will likely never see that person again. I found this medium to be a fun, relatable, and effective tool for teaching cover letter writing in the classroom.
One of the best parts of this lesson is that, while it is based upon sophisticated technology, all you need to present it is chalk and a chalkboard. The personal profile offered by these apps serves as a metaphor for a generic cover letter. Simply draw two columns on the chalk board. One labeled “swipe right” and one labeled “swipe left.” If you or your students are unfamiliar with the concept of these apps, there is quick and easily accessible information about them online. I found that my students were very familiar with this technology and were able to fill in gaps of information that their peers or I did not know about.
Once you have established the premise, continue the metaphor. My rationale is that a cover letter is like a blind date for an employer. Is the person’s profile interesting? Swipe right on a cover letter that is unique, captivating, and original. You hope your potential date’s profile isn’t misleading. Similarly, you would swipe right on a cover letter that has content that is clear and uses specific examples.
There are many examples of when you may want to swipe left. Do you like the way your potential match is dressed? No? Swipe left! The same goes for a cover letter that is formatted incorrectly. An employer is unlikely to give it a second look. A profile that is too long may be boring. You might be ready to swipe left. Cover letters can be similar. A good cover letter is succinct and focused.
Of course, there is more to learn than what is conveyed through this lesson alone. However, using a dating app as a way for students to understand the basics of a cover letter can be a great hook. It has proven to be a fun and thoughtful addition to my curriculum and I hope it will be to yours as well.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at email@example.com.