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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@example.com @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!