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Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Preparing for success in your job interview: The résumé and cover letter
Joyce Penland, CFRE

December, 2012

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin

At Bacon Lee & Associates we conduct job searches for a variety of nonprofits from large universities to small human service organizations to animal protection groups to art museums.  The thread that ties these groups together is their hope to attract qualified, energetic, experienced fundraising professionals who can move their organizations forward.  

Knowing this, the Bacon Lee team is sharing some important tips for job applicants so that you can be prepared for the interview process, from start to finish.   Our focus this month is creating a winning résumé and cover letter. 

The résumé

The first step in preparing for the job interview is to write or rewrite your résumé. 

Mike Bacon says, “I'm always amazed at how few job candidates share the results of their work in their résumés.”  His advice?  Look hard at your résumé and consider the following information:  

           Does it have the right "numbers" in it?  

           Do you specifically state how much money you raised?

           What’s the largest gift you have closed?

           How many prospects have you managed in your portfolio of contacts?  

           Do you identify how many people you managed?  

           How large was your budget?  

Mike says, “All these numbers give an interviewer a sense of comparison.  Numbers help determine if you are ready to tackle the challenges of the next opportunity.”  Beverly Seffel reminds job seekers to use care in crafting your résumé.  “Don't send in résumés with cute objects or fonts that are hard to read.” 

Barbara Anne Stephens says that wise job applicants will prepare by being specific.  “Update your résumé and make it specific to the job that you are seeking.  Including a generalized objective that is not part of the job description is a negative, particularly in a tight job market.”  

Creating your résumé with your reader in mind is sage advice from Alexis DeSela.

“Make it easy for the recruiter to understand your job experience, progression and accomplishments, and explain any significant gaps in employment.  But don’t include personal items, birthdates, hobbies or pictures in your résumé.”

Most importantly, says Marion Lee, your résumé should reflect who you really are.  “Be honest and sincere because we can tell.  Apply for jobs that you really want, not just any job just to have one because it shows.”


The cover letter

Crafting a winning cover letter can make the difference in getting invited for an interview.  Wise applicants will take great care in creating a unique cover letter for each job for which you’re applying.

“A powerful, well-crafted cover letter is key to getting an interview.  The cover letter allows job seekers to say things about themselves that don't appear in the résumé.  I'm particularly interested in people who include a personal story that shows they are passionate about the mission of the nonprofit that is hiring,” says Barbara Anne.

Alexis adds that a thoughtful cover letter that is well written and accurately presents your professional “essence” is the key.  “I’ve seen cover letters submitted for jobs with a different recruiter’s name and organization–and for a different job than the one we are recruiting for. Pay attention to the details. This is your first impression with the recruiter, so make it count.”

As the Bacon Lee & Associates team reads and reviews applicant résumés and cover letters for job searches we are conducting, we hope these tips will prepare you to be among those who will move to the interview stage.  Stay tuned for more tips on preparing for the interview—knowing your future organization, asking appropriate questions, and looking the part.


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