Job search success in 1, 2, 3

Learn how to use the Rule of Three to land your dream job.


Man in white ballcap visiting the GCSAA web site in an office

One of the primary goals of a career search in the golf industry is to make a memorable impression on the hiring committee amid a sea of qualified candidates. There are many strategies for achieving this goal, but the most powerful one is the simple use of the Rule of Three.

The Rule of Three is the theory that communicating in groups of three creates a concise, memorable experience. Think of Steve Jobs and his obsession with communicating in threes; the “Stop, drop and roll” mantra; “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”; storytelling with a three-part sequence of set-up, confrontation and resolution … the list goes on and on. A simple Google search of this concept returns the following: “What is the Rule of Three in communication? Simply put, the Rule of Three is a very general principle that states that ideas presented in threes are inherently more interesting, more enjoyable and more memorable for your audience.”

How can we use this Rule of Three to our advantage in a job search? This month, we will unpack three ways to incorporate it into your messaging to generate a memorable impression in your next search to land your dream job.

Introduction: Is your cover letter memorable? Does it tell your story in an easy way to relate to and connect with your audience? Too many times, when I critique a cover letter, it features a lengthy list of qualities and achievements rather than telling a story and focusing on memorable traits that relate directly to your audience and the priorities at their golf facility. One time I was presenting at a golf industry leadership conference, and we were discussing cover letters. I posed the question to several general managers and directors of golf: What are you looking for in a cover letter when you are hiring a golf course superintendent? One of the general managers quickly raised his hand and said he wanted to read a cover letter that told your story, not just a rehashing of your résumé and titles. Have the courage to make your cover letter into a three-part story of your journey in golf and how your next chapter should be with that particular golf facility.

Résumé: Identify three qualities that connect you to a particular golf facility and the hiring committee’s priorities, and then put those as power titles at the top of your résumé. For example, if you are targeting a golf facility that hosts professional tournaments, you could feature titles such as, “Hosting Tournaments,” “Golf Industry Leadership” and “Championship Course Conditions.” Reflect on the job from the hiring committee’s perspective, and then select the top three priorities they will be seeking in their next golf course superintendent, assistant or equipment manager. These give you a clear pathway to your communication throughout your résumé to display how you are a great fit with their leadership team.

Use the Rule of Three for any lists and bullets. The longer the list, the more likely it will be forgotten. Be disciplined to purge older achievements and items not related to your target golf facility to keep your lists at a manageable length. Three bullets are optimal, but for example, if you have six achievements you want to list under a job, then consider grouping them into two groups with three bullets under each one, such as listing a heading of “Leadership” with three bullets describing achievements related to leading your team, programs and initiatives. Then add another heading such as “Golf Course Improvement Projects” with three bullets detailing ways you champion renovation projects to provide an exceptional golfing experience for your customer/golfers/members.

Closing argument: You will probably be given an open-ended question at the end of the interview asking if there is anything else you want to share. This is your chance for your closing argument. Think Rule of Three! The committee will NOT remember 20 things about you, so focus on the three points that you featured in your cover letter and résumé. Take the hiring committee back to your story of how you got into the golf industry and how your story connects with them and their golf facility. This will be the memorable story that will propel you to winning your next job.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, has been a career consultant and speaker with GCSAA since 2005 and specializes in golf and turf industry careers. Rau is a frequent speaker at national, regional and local GCSAA conferences and teaches GCSAA webinars.