This is how you write your activist cover letter
This post comes from ONE’s official in-house recruiter, William Sanders. For more cover letter tips and information, or for more info on jobs at ONE, make sure to follow him on Twitter @williamrecruits.
Hi, ONE Campus members! My name’s William, and I’m the in-house recruiter for ONE, which means I’m in charge of the hiring process across all of our offices around the globe. In my role as a recruiter, I have read thousands of cover letters and have seen some really good ones… and some not-so-good ones.
Cover letters are difficult. I know it. Once upon a time, I hated writing them because I didn’t know how to talk about myself in a way that I thought mattered to potential employers or in a way that I thought anyone would care to read about.
But they are important. A well-written cover letter can make or break your application and take it to the next level. Your cover letter is not only an explanation of why you are the right person for the job. It is a writing sample that demonstrates your ability to communicate and to convince others into action.
As an activist, you wake up every day with the motivation and desire to not only change the world, but to stand up for what’s right. You mobilize and ignite other activists like yourself in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. And you do it well.
But how do you say that in a cover letter? Try some of these tips below.
1. Respond to the Job Announcement
It’s one thing to merely apply to the job that you are interested in by following the directions listed in the job description. However, as an activist, you know that in order to really get grassroots support, you have to really speak to the needs of the people, and you should do the same with your cover letter.
To write an effective cover letter, take the time to understand what the role requires and how your skills best align with the qualifications of the job. This includes researching the organization, reading their blog, and reviewing the mission and vision for the organization. From there, incorporate your skills and experience in ways that make sense for the role you are considering. This way, you’re not only applying for your dream job; you’re demonstrating a very tangible interest to the organization you want to be a part of.
2. Directly Address the Hiring Manager
A good job description will provide you with plenty of information about a job even if it isn’t explicitly stated. One of these things is usually who the role reports to. If a job description for a Campaigns Assistant role reports to the Campaigns Manager, take a moment to look them up on the website or on LinkedIn to learn more about them. This adds a very personal touch to the resume and shows your ability to effectively research and fact-check information.
It’s the same as if you were writing a letter, or a tweet, or making a phone call to a senator asking them to take action; you know exactly which senator you are directing your ask to. When possible, you want to do the same thing and direct your letter to the person responsible for the hiring decision.
3. Keep It Short, Sweet, and to the Point
When campaigning and organizing, you know that you have a short period to call many people to action, and your cover letter serves the same function. Cover letters briefly summarize your most relevant experiences and reasons for submitting an application. They reveal your career interests as well as your passion; and, explain why you are not only not only right person for the job, but the best person for the job.
As a rule, your cover letter should be no more than three paragraphs long; the first should introduce you to the hiring manager, the second should explain why you are the best person in the job and the final should summarize the first two and let the reader know your availability for next steps. Nothing more, nothing less.
Cover letters can be difficult and boring, but they are really a good way to stand out in the crowd when applying for a job or internship. Taking a moment or two to tell a good story and explain to a hiring manager why you are the best person for the job is worth it. Remember: if I am unsure about your resume, your cover letter might make the difference.