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Monday, January 22, 2018

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Why your cover letter opens the door
Joyce Penland, CFRE

August, 2016

Conducting job searches on behalf of our nonprofit clients is one of the hallmarks of our work at Bacon Lee & Associates. In our 16-year history, we’ve literally read thousands of cover letters and résumés of fundraisers seeking new positions. Crafting a winning cover letter can make the critical difference in getting invited for an interview, and, ultimately, getting the job. Wise applicants will take great care in creating a unique cover letter for each job for which you’re applying.

But, all too frequently, we are not seeing our advice taken. Far too many emails arrive with a two-sentence message: “Here’s my résumé for the job you’re advertising. I’m available at your convenience for an interview.” Argh!

It cannot be stated strongly enough: An email with your résumé attached is not a cover letter! How can we discern your interest level in a position with just your résumé and no (or poorly written) cover letter?

Here’s why your powerful, well-crafted cover letter is key to getting an interview.

  • The cover letter allows job seekers to say things about yourselves that don’t appear in your résumé.
  • Your letter helps convey your passion about the mission of the nonprofit that may not come across in your résumé.
  • The care you take in writing clearly and accurately will help us, as recruiters, to see your professionalism, so pay attention to details.
  • Frankly, without a cover letter, you may not make it to the interview stage at all, despite your résumé.

My Bacon Lee & Associates colleague, Alexis DeSela, tells of one of the greatest errors of all by job seekers: not personalizing the cover letter for the correct organization. “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. Your cover letter is your first impression with the recruiter, so make it count.”

Taking the time and making the effort to write a compelling, well-crafted and error-free cover letter is essential to getting your foot in the proverbial door. It is the most opportune way to highlight those skills and achievements that make you the ideal candidate for the job.



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