Thursday, March 19, 2009

Giving Thanks: An Easy Way to Stand Out

Want an easy way to stand out from other job applicants? It may sound 'old school,' but send a thank you note after your interview.

I get so few: believe me, I notice each one.

In addition to satisying any questions of etiquette, you can use a thank you note to reinforce key points from your interview--or to introduce brilliant answers that escaped you in the pressure of the moment.

With a thank you note, you check in and you also communicate continued interest. And it's one more opportunity to market your gifts and potential contributions.

It doesn't have to be long; doesn't have to be fancy. Three or five sentences by e-mail should suffice. It's quick, much easier than your cover letter, and a lot of bang for the buck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finding a Job in Nonprofits: your Cover Letter

With the changes in the economy, I'm inundated with resumes. About a third use the shotgun approach: apply for anything and everything.

I recommend being more strategic. Honestly, unqualified resumes clutter up my in-box and do nothing but cause me more work.

In addition, my standard "How to Apply" line is: "Send cover letter and resume to kfrancis@. I've noticed that many applicants who don't meet our qualifications also neglect to send a cover.

You're shooting yourself in the foot when you skip the cover when asked. One: you have shown that you don't follow instructions--even when the stakes are high. Two (and even more importantly): you have missed a golden opportunity to market yourself.

If you don't have the experience or the education, but you're perfect for my job, how will I know it unless you explain? Most nonprofits are mission-based; explain how you are passionate about our mission, and at least you have a chance. Skip the cover, and I don't mean this unkindly, but the opportunity will be skipping you.

So see the cover letter as an opportunity rather than a chore...and best wishes with your job search!