Whilst a CV contains all your headline facts and initially opens the door, for a potential employer, your cover letter or supporting statement is an opportunity to create a document that is well structured, and persuasive and clearly evidences your suitability for that specific position.
The charity and not-for-profit space are mission-centred, and therefore organisations will be looking for candidates who can convey a shared passion for that cause and organisation. Your CV will list key skills and relevant work experience in a summary, the cover letter is where you can expand on these headlines and demonstrate your personal motivation and how you share the same values and drive for that specific cause.
Where do you start?
The best place to begin is to start to note down the key points of the job description and person spec as these will inform the areas that you will need to evidence and address. The cover letter is a space to showcase what you have achieved but it must have a thread running through it that always pulls back towards the specific role and organisation you are applying for. In other words, only speak about experience and achievements that you feel will directly benefit that organisation. Your examples need to be relevant and clearly related to those key points from the job description you have noted down.
In a cover letter, you are essentially writing a story that is persuasive and has a clear structure; an introduction or beginning, a middle section that will cover the key noted points and an end or summary. Use language throughout that the organisation has featured in the job description, and or on their website. This demonstrates a level of care and personalisation that attests to your keen interest in them.
This is where you address the individual that you know is the hiring manager. Name the role that you are specifically interested in and perhaps a sentence or so that either references the recruiter or individual who signposted the position to you.
The middle section
In this part of the cover letter, you must show familiarity with the work of the organisation. If you can mention past projects, you have been involved with and relate them to the role you are applying for, it is an effective way to demonstrate suitability. Ensure you convey enthusiasm and awareness of the work they do and endeavour to steer the reader to relevant experience.
Fundamentally you must prove why you’re a great fit for the role. The hiring manager wants tangible examples and metrics or data that show the active impact that you have had. Use statements such as:
“Through my targeted campaign, I was able to increase fundraising by a margin of 20% by doing …”
This is a specific, value-led statement that shows results giving a clear sense of suitability for a fundraising role.
The summary is the final section at the end that clearly draws all the threads together. Reiterate the key details that elevate your value and relate those to the job. Ensure your passion and alignment with the organisation are stated clearly.
Shaping your career
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