Presenter - New Organizing Institute

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WHAT’S IN A COVER LETTER
Presenter: Tiffany Isaacs
Hiring Director, The Public Interest Network
www.publicinterestnetwork.org
Presenter:
Facilitator:
Nick Niles
[email protected]
@nicholasbniles
Presenter:
Tiffany Isaacs
Hiring Director
www.publicinterestnetwork.org
AGENDA
•
Introductions and Polls
•
Read 3 sample cover letters
•
Discuss what works, and doesn’t work
•
Cover letter tips & pitfalls
•
How to, outline and format
•
Revisit samples
•
Thank you and wrap up
COVER LETTER EXAMPLES
Position: Advocate
Organization: state PIRGs
Key Responsibilities:
• Develop program
• Create & implement communications strategy
• Raise money via grants, canvass, new media
and donor program
• Build/activate field
•Work with diverse partners in coalition
COVER LETTERS: CANDIDATE A
I am a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where I completed the Health Law Certificate
Program and graduated in the top twenty percent of my class. My long-term goal has always been a career in the
health field. Thus, I am writing to express my fervent interest in the OSPIRG Health Care Advocate position.
During my time in law school, I developed the ability to communicate orally with a wide range of people. For example,
while interning at the State Civil Rights Project, I met extensively with abused children and their families to compile
reports concerning potential legal claims. While working at the Rural Clinic in Kumasi, Ghana, I quickly adjusted to a
new culture in order to communicate effectively with patients and medical officials. Finally, while working at the Big City
Health Law Clinic, I prepared adolescent and adult clients for legal proceedings.
In addition to oral communication, I have developed the skills necessary to interpret complex information and draft
clear, concise, and accurate prose. My tenure at law school included serving as Managing Editor of the Journal of
Environmental and Public Health Law and working for the State Attorney General, where I studied complicated medical
documents and investigative reports in order to draft factually accurate complaints, motions, and legislative proposals
concerning Medicaid fraud and elder abuse.
Finally, I have extensive advocacy experience. This includes serving as a student practitioner for the Health Law Clinic,
where I met with clients and medical professionals in order to build case theories and advocate successfully in front of
administrative law judges. In addition, while working at the Texas Civil Rights Project, I met with and advocated on
behalf of qualified immigrant victims of domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
I am extremely passionate about health issues. I believe that my strong work ethic, organizational skills, communication
experience, and advocacy experience can be an asset to your organization. I am happy to make myself available for an
interview at your convenience.
COVER LETTERS: CANDIDATE B
I am writing to express my fervent interest in PennPIRG’s Advocate position. My 15 years of developing and leading
campaigns, fundraising and working with diverse partners uniquely qualify me to take on this challenge.
Throughout my career, I have designed and led dozens of public policy campaigns that built the overall power of the
organization while delivering concrete victories to those involved. At ACORN, I developed a groundbreaking antipredatory lending campaign that combined solid field work with strategic partnerships, smart messaging, and creative
tactics. The resulting citywide foreclosure moratorium saved thousands of families from losing their homes and became
a national model. Additionally, our organization forged lasting relationships with state leaders, increased our
membership numbers, built relationships with the media, and developed politically sophisticated leaders.
I am also an experienced fundraiser. At ACORN, I built relationships with program officers at foundations, tripled our
base of monthly volunteer contributions, and managed internal capacity to deliver on our external goals. These efforts
grew Philadelphia ACORN’s annual budget to from $350,000 to $1 million over 6 years.
Finally, my experience working with a variety of diverse coalitions prepares me to cultivate a strong working relationship
with PennPIRG’s external partners. At Reform Immigration for America, I was responsible for bringing together nontraditional allies including suburban business leaders, elected representatives from rural farming districts, and urban
immigrant rights organizers to work together for immigration reform. Through my coalition work, I have learned
Pennsylvania’s political landscape and collaborated with the leaders of critical constituencies across the state,
positioning me well to navigate PennPIRG’s external relationships.
In short, I have spent my career successfully building organizations that create opportunities for people to collectively
and strategically confront power, win concrete improvements in their lives, and become part of a larger movement for
justice. I respect the work that has gone into making PennPIRG the organization that it is today, and I would love the
opportunity to dedicate my skills and experience to continue to move the organization forward.
COVER LETTERS: CANDIDATE C
I am interested in pursuing the position of PIRG advocate. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from
Tulane University, and in August, I received my Masters of Public Health in global health systems and development.
Throughout my college career, I worked as an administrative assistant and teaching assistant, and both positions taught
me to work well and efficiently in a fast-paced environment. During my recent internship with March of Dimes, I assisted
with fundraising, developing partnerships with local community leaders, and researching health policies relating to
maternal and child health.
I am currently working as a Field Manager for Grassroots Campaigns on behalf of Planned Parenthood. My work
experience and education have provided me with the appropriate experience for organizing community activities and
developing campaigns. This position seems very well suited to my education, experience, and career interest.
Given the chance I am confident that my academic background, work experience, and positive attitude would make me
an asset to NCPIRG.
COVER LETTERS
• Rank cover letters A, B and C. Who would
you interview?
• What worked?
• What didn’t?
COVER LETTERS: TIPS
• Create unique cover letter for each job.
• Articulate why you are qualified.
• Cater your previous experience to the job
description.
• Provide clear evidence to support your
case. Show don’t tell.
• Explain why you are excited by the job.
COVER LETTERS: PITFALLS
• Same cover letter for multiple positions,
with organization or position title changed.
• Regurgitating resume.
• Unedited: typos, spelling / grammer errors,
long-winded.
• Skipping business letter formatting.
• Jargon/insider language.
COVER LETTERS: HOW TO
• Read job description. What skills or
qualifications does it ask for?
• Brainstorm: how does your previous
experience relate?
• Research organization: real person is best
• Brainstorm: why are you excited about this
job, and how does it fit into your long-term
goals?
COVER LETTERS: HOW TO
•
•
•
•
•
Write: think about crafting a “case for”.
Keep it to 1 page or less.
Give it to someone else to review.
Make edits, give it one final read.
Send!
COVER LETTERS: FORMATTING
Your Return Address Line
Your Return Address Line
Your Phone
Your Email
Date (Month Day, Year)
Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. Full name of recipient.
Title/Position of Recipient.
Company Name
Address Line 1
Address Line 2
Dear Ms./Mrs./Mr. Last Name:
Body Paragraph 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
..............................................................
Body Paragraph 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
..............................................................
Closing (Sincerely...),
Signature
Your Name (Printed)
COVER LETTER: OUTLINE
• Intro: Why you for this job
• Body: Supporting evidence.
• Conclusion: Restate your argument
COVER LETTER EXAMPLES
Position: Advocate
Organization: state PIRGs
Key Responsibilities:
• Develop program
• Create & implement communications strategy
• Raise money via grants, canvass, new media
and donor program
• Build/activate field
•Work with diverse partners in coalition
INTRO: WHY YOU FOR THIS JOB
BODY: SUPPORTING EVIDENCE
•
•
•
Oral communication,
legal intake w/
abused kids, Ghana
clinic
Writing clearly &
accurately, editor of
law journal, Attorney
General summaries
Advocacy, make
case to judges,
advocate for
domestic violence
victims
•
•
•
Campaign devo,
ACORN, won +
national model
Fundraiser, $650K+,
foundations, member
contributions,
internally delivered
Diverse partners, reps
from farming districts,
immigrant rights wks,
business owners.
•
•
•
Efficient in fast-paced
environment, TA and
AA
Fundraising, intern
with March of Dimes,
canvasser with GCI
Developing
campaigns, no
examples
COVER LETTERS: CONCLUSION
WWW.NEWORGANIZING.COM/JOBS
Visit our new ‘Work Forward’ site. It’s a great
resource to use as you continue your job
search!
WWW.NEWORGANIZING.COM/TOOLBOX
You can view this training and other great
trainings online using this link.
NEWORGANIZING.COM/TRAININGS/WORKF
ORWARD
Upcoming trainings:
•
How to use and maximize the Work Forward site
•
How to prepare for and participate in interviews
•
How to strategically use your network to land the
job you want
•
How to negotiate salary, benefits, responsibilities,
and otherwise
THANK YOU, THANK YOU,
THANK YOU!
And please share your feedback and pay it
forward!

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