Foresters: Samples of Creating the Best Resume and Cover Letter
Foresters manage both private and public lands, and their primary responsibility is the protection, conservation, and preservation of forests. However, that’s not all that foresters do. Known to be jacks of all trades, foresters also work with the public on recreational programs, gather and analyze scientific data on the forests under their care, and assist tirelessly with wildfires—both pre and post-emergency. This is an exciting career choice for those with a thirst for adventure and a strong love of the environment.
This article is divided into three parts—first a brief exploration into who and what a forester is and does and then some information on what you need to do to break into the field. Then we’ll provide a cover letter template as well as some good information on how to construct one on your own. Finally, this article will conclude with some helpful resume tips that will make sure your application stands out from the rest.
Foresters Career Profile
Forester Recommended Educational Background
If this is the career you want to pursue, we recommend, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in forestry, environmental science, biology, natural resource management, or a similar field. You’ll need basic courses in science and math, but other courses in law, engineering, statistics, hydrology, wildlife conservation, wetland analysis, and others will be helpful as well.
And don’t forget to go after internships, apprenticeships, and summer jobs or programs to give you practical experience and an edge over the competition. Additionally, think about courses on communication, public engagement, and community development—as a forester, you will have to interact quite a bit with the public through recreational and educational programs.
In addition to the bachelor’s degree, some positions required a graduate degree or a professional registration.
Check your state’s requirements to determine whether you need a license or registration, which can involve practical training and an exam in addition to a four-year degree. Finally, don’t forget to make sure your program is accredited. The Society of American Foresters (SAF) provides information and accreditation for certificate programs, but this does not replace the need for the licensing and registration procedures that are set up state by state.
Forester Duties And Responsibilities
Foresters must be flexible, adaptable, and should have the physical fitness to meet the challenges that come from working in a changing environment—duties can differ from day to day and foresters must showcase a variety of skills. Primarily, foresters are charged with the management of forested land, so they monitor, harvest, and plan tree management. In addition to that, they fight the spread of disease by chemicals or insects, oversee tree logging, and work with other specialists in areas such as wildlife management, wildfire protection, and timber cruising.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the 2017 median pay for Foresters was $60, 970 per year and $29.31 per hour. In the top 10%, the average salary for foresters was $84,830 and for the bottom 10% the average salary was $40,480. Keep in mind that educational background, training, a license (or lack thereof), and years of experience will affect prospective salaries. Moreover, state or federal forestry agency salaries are likely to be different than salaries paid by private forestry corporations.
Cover Letter Samples
Generally, a cover letter signals several things to potential employers. First, it contextualizes your resume; it should explain why your skills, education, and training have made you the ideal candidate for the position. Second, it provides an effective writing sample to the hiring manager. Whether or not the position calls for significant writing, employers want employees who are good communicators. Employers use cover letters as a screening tool—a good cover letter puts your resume into the running.
Below you’ll find a sample cover letter to use as a template for your job search. First, you’ll find a description of what each paragraph should contain, and below it, in italics, a practical example. This template is just that, a framework in which you can place your own style and skills in a way that best represents you. Use the example below as a guideline, not a rigid standard.
ABC Tree Co.
1234 Fern Road
City, State US 01234
Dear Mr. Smith,
This first paragraph should contain a brief introduction to who you are, followed by what position you’re applying for. Then you can succinctly provide your educational and career background that recommends you to the position.
I am answering your request for applications for the position of Forestry Specialist with the ABC Tree Co. I am a Forester with 10 years of experience in natural resource management, with undergraduate and graduate degrees in Forestry Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. I am also a licensed forester through the West Virginia State Board of Registration for Foresters.
In this paragraph (and in a possible subsequent third one as well), you should, in more detail, speak to the skills that you have obtained that make you a fit for the job. Talk about stand out experiences, awards, or recognition in the field that more specifically make you the ideal candidate. Go into interesting and relevant parts of your background that aren’t necessarily on your resume (or things that are only briefly mentioned).
My previous career experience with both private and publicly owned lands, including time with the National Forest Services, make me an ideal candidate for the Forestry Specialist position. I have worked extensively with environmental scientists to prevent and contain the spread of disease to acres of forested land, have taken leadership positions on interdisciplinary teams created to address forest fires, and have spearheaded public engagement initiatives to engage the general public in educational and recreational activities related to land use. These skills and experiences will benefit a company such as yours, and I anticipate building and growing these competencies with you.
Close with a paragraph that reiterates your interest in the position and the hope (not the expectation) that you will be able to communicate with them soon with an interview.
I am available for contact at the email address listed above, and you can reach me during normal business hours at 555-555-5555. Thank you for considering my candidacy, and I hope to speak with you soon.
How To Make Your Resume Stand Out
Resumes should be clear, concise, well organized, and grammatically correct, while leaving space for interviewers and employers to ask questions and to become interested in what’s not there. To say it another way, your resume should give the broad facts of your educational and career history, but there should also be information there that provides insight into the person you are and makes the employer interested in getting to know you.
For instance, an underutilized part of the resume is the “Interests” or “Special Skills” section. Here you can showcase some of your personality and skills that don’t fall neatly under the education or experience sections. Foreign language proficiency (don’t over exaggerate, they will test you), international travel, course electives that you did particularly well in, membership in relevant organizations, etc. can further highlight your marketability and present you in a well-rounded light.
There’s been a lot made of using “action words” to make your previous or current responsibilities sound more punchy or impressive. But it’s more than just trying to sound good. Employers, depending on the position, the company, and its requirements, can see hundreds to thousands of resumes for a single position. And there’s only so many times they can read “performed,” “did,” or “made” before the resumes begin to run together. Using different and interesting “action words” not only make your resume more visually interesting, but it makes your resume stand out from hundreds of others who may have similar backgrounds.
Some examples of these “action words” include:
What you’ll note is that not only do these words bring to mind varied levels of “action,” but they all speak to and bring to mind a level of leadership and forward thinking that will make you stand out from the pack. These kinds of words depict an employee who is a go-getter, action-minded, organized, a good communicator, and more. This is particularly useful and helpful for potential and experienced foresters whose duties are varied and ever changing—the right words show that you have experience adapting to the different aspects of the job.
Candidates for employment as foresters should be ready to jump in with both feet—this is a career for those who don’t want a typical 9-5 job. One day you could be gathering bark samples of diseased trees and the next day you could be negotiating timber contracts with private corporations. It takes a varied skill set—and the further along in your career you go the more varied it will get, with policy and research work becoming more and more integral to the discipline. Start your path now if you are one of the many environmental enthusiasts ready to protect and preserve the nation’s forests.