03 Feb Our advice for nonprofit job seekers, part 2
With two searches running simultaneously, I’ve read a lot of cover letters lately. Based on that, here are some tips to increase the odds that you’ll make it to the first round of interviews.
Presumably, if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve decided that you’ve found your dream job (or at least a desirable next step). If you’re still on the fence, read this post [ about how to identify jobs you actually want to apply for.
The cover letter is your way to express a bit of your personality, to show you’ve done your homework, and make a case to the hiring committee why you deserve an interview. You don’t need to recap your whole résumé – use the space instead to articulate why you want to work for this specific company, and how your background has prepared you to be successful in this specific position. If you’ve got an accomplishment that you’re particularly proud of (and that’s relevant to this position), here’s where it goes.
1. If you’re using a stock cover letter for everything you apply for, you’re not doing yourself any favors. I want to know why you are a good fit for this opportunity, not read a generic letter that assures me that you’re a good team player who would be an asset to my organization in general.
2. Job descriptions tell you a lot about how the organization thinks about itself, and what they’re looking for, in terms of hard skills as well as personal attributes. Read it carefully, then respond to what they’re looking for. If the job description is broken down into areas of responsibility, consider presenting your cover letter (or résumé) with the same categories, to make it easy to see how perfect you are.
3. If the job you’re applying for is notably different than the jobs you’ve included on your résumé, talk about why you want a change in direction, and how you’re qualified to make that shift. If the skills in your previous jobs are directly transferable to this opportunity, help me see that correlation if it’s not obvious.
4. If the job you’re applying for represents a step up for you in responsibility, explain why you’re ready for this. Have you gone above and beyond in your current position? Do you have additional experience in your work or personal life that’s expanded your skills? Have you pursued independent learning, with books, webinars or workshops?