Writing a cover letter can be a daunting task, but it’s one that’s necessary for most job applications. It’s important to get it right, to help you stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.
Naomi, Recruitment Consultant at CharityRecruit, part of CharityJob, advises:
“Ideally a cover letter should be one side of A4. This should detail why you want to work for the organisation, what you’ve achieved in previous positions and how this relates to their current vacancy – focus on relevant skills and don’t digress – on top of this, research the organisation you’re applying to and tailor each cover letter accordingly. It’s really worth putting some time in on cover letters as this is what hiring managers will see before even looking at your CV. So relax, think about how you want to portray yourself and maximise your chances of being called to an interview by taking the time needed to make it professional, clear and engaging – ALWAYS check spelling and grammar.”
– Naomi, Recruitment Consultant at CharityRecruit
With cover letters, presentation is key! Avoid handwriting it unless in exceptional circumstances. Instead, type it on A4 paper, and use a nice, easy-to-read font.
What you need to include
Firstly, research. As Naomi states, you need to be able to tailor your cover letter to the specific organisation, so make sure you know all about it. Where do they sit in the sector? Do any other charities compete with them for the same supporters? This will also help when you get to interview stage, and show that you have a proven interest in the charity.
Next, you need to make sure you address the letter to the correct person. It may seem obvious, but if you know their name, make sure you state it. If not Dear Sir or Madam is fine.
Then, you want to explain exactly why you are writing and which position you are applying for: “I would like to be considered for the role of Fundraising Manager”. It’s also a good idea to say where you found the position- for example on the CharityJob website, through a mutual contact, or whilst volunteering at the charity.
Now it’s time to show why you’re perfect for the role! Describe your relevant professional and voluntary experience and education in the next paragraph. It’s also a really good idea to work your way through the job description, and address each point, giving an example to show how you match the specification. You also need to show them that you relate to the cause the charity aims to help, and that you are passionate about helping them to achieve their goals.
In the next paragraph- try stating your own professional goal, or what you want to achieve in your career. Then show how this job could help you achieve it. End by re-emphasising your interest in the role, and why you are passionate about the work your chosen charity does. Close with ‘Your Sincerely’ if you’ve used their name, and ‘Yours Faithfully’ if you’ve used Dear Sir or Madam.
Naomi is a Recruitment Consultant at CharityRecruit,
part of CharityJob
Career Advice >> Browse Articles >> Resumes & Interviews
The Secret Formula to Cover Letter Success
Paragraph 1: Flatter the organization and show you’ve done your research
Most people are tempted to start their cover letters with a general overview of what position they’re applying for, where they saw the listing, or an explanation of why they are interested and would be perfect for the job. Sounds reasonable, right? The only problem is that hundreds — these days probably even thousands — of other applicants are beginning their cover letter the exact same way.
Right off the bat, you’re sending the wrong message — that you’re exactly like everyone else and there’s nothing that stands out about you. Wouldn’t you rather begin your cover letter by commanding the reader’s attention and providing something memorable so they’ll remember your name and application come hiring decision time?
Of course you do. That’s why your cover letter should always begin with something anecdotal — a story, a memory, an experience, or even something you’ve read recently. This anecdote should be tied into what the organization means to you and will help the hiring managers remember you more vividly, e.g. ”Oh, the so-and-so girl! I remember her!”
But beware! Don’t just talk about yourself. Keep in mind, this first paragraph should be about the nonprofit, not you. Don’t ever start your cover letter saying why the nonprofit would be good for you — sorry to say, but they don’t care about that. You need to show them the exact opposite — why you would be good for the nonprofit.
By human nature, we can’t get enough of hearing about ourselves or what wonderful things we’ve done, so always begin your cover letter by flattering the nonprofit very specifically. How specifically? Well, you want to show them you’ve really done your research, so don’t say something general, like “I really admire your workplace diversity.” Bring up specific things like statistics, numbers, recent grants or gifts, latest campaigns, awards they’ve won, or notable accomplishments.
In the example below, the writer immediately grabs the reader by sharing an anecdote. She then connects the anecdote to what she knows about the nonprofit. Any hiring manager is certainly going to be impressed with the depth of research the writer has put into the opening paragraph alone.
Dear Hiring Manager,
Born and raised in San Francisco, I’ve always known Glide Foundation as a household name. Now, having thoroughly studied urban planning and public housing as a CS student, I have come to fully understand the extent of Glide Foundation’s awe-inspiring accomplishments. A formidable player in the housing sector with award-winning services, Glide is always striving to enrich the community with their campaigns, while continuing to innovate with their programs and local solutions.
Next: Be Specific — Very Specific >>
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