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!

1 comment:

Krista Ogburn Francis said...

Commenting on my own post, I recently read on a recruiting blog: "Never send a cover letter. I don't read them and recruiters don't pass them on."

That's a pretty sweeping statement. In response I would say, give some thought to the industry, sector, and size of the organization to which you're applying. The smaller the organization, the more likely a human being is reading your materials. In larger companies, a computer is doing the first screen, searching for key words. Plan your approach accordingly.