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Comments Off on How to write a cover letter for not-for-profit organizations

How to write a cover letter for not-for-profit organizations

Posted by | March 14, 2014 | career resources

Your cover letters is your chance to sell yourself to the employer, to prompt the recruiter to read your CV and to gain an interview.

The role of the application letter is to draw a clear connection between the job you are seeking and your qualifications listed in the CV. The letter matches the requirements of the job with your qualifications, emphasizing how you are right for that job. The application letter is not a lengthy summary of the CV but should be used to highlight and elaborate on the key points in your CV, which are of particular relevance to the employer.

There is no strict formula for an application letter as different jobs may require different approaches. Employers can spot standardised letters that are sent out on mass, so you must tailor every letter to be uniquely relevant to each role you apply for. It is best to make sure that the letter is on a formal footing but also friendly and that you pay attention to your writing style, your spelling and grammar.

Many cover letters tend to be long winded but it is best to try to keep it to 1 page and to no more than 3 – 4 paragraphs that consist of short, simple sentences.


The first paragraph of the application letter is the most important; it sets everything up – the tone and focus. Try to provide him/her with a reason to carry on reading your application letter and make the first paragraph an attention-grabbing one!! It is a good idea to begin by addressing the letter to a particular person if you can get hold of this information. This paragraph should be brief and to the point, indicating which job you are applying for (including a job reference number if there is one) as well as the source of your information (newspaper advertisement, personal contact, etc.) and an explanation as to why you have applied for this job.

 Main Body

In the main parts of the application letter, you present your work experience, education, training – whatever makes that connection between you and the job you are seeking. Remember that this is the most important job you have to do in this letter – to enable the reader to see the match between your qualifications and the requirements for the job.

It may be a good idea to split the body into two paragraphs with the first focusing on the needs of the company and role requirements. You need to explain why you have applied to them, indicating the main job requirements. This will show you have done research into the organization, tailoring the letter to them to be unique. In the following paragraph you need to match these to your skills and abilities, highlighting why you are right for the job and elaborating your achievements. Try to include information not already on your CV, be positive and confident and write it with a bias to the future rather than the past.   

Closing Paragraph

In the last paragraph of the application letter, you can indicate how the prospective employer can get in touch with you and when are the best times for an interview. This is the place to urge that prospective employer to contact you to arrange an interview. It is important to end the letter strongly and on a positive note. End the letter with something like ‘I very much look forward to hearing from you’ and ‘Yours Sincerely’ and finally, don’t forget to sign and print your name! Once you have written your letter, check it several times for any mistakes you may have made and check all the information you have provided them with is correct and accurate. Align the company address to the left side and your address to the right and make sure the paragraphs are justified, the font is the same throughout the letter and on your CV and that it looks neat and tidy!!

If you are not replying to an advertised position, it is more appropriate to write a speculative letter to a company that you would like to work for. The cover letter will therefore be slightly different, it should begin by stating what work you are particularly seeking, say why you want to work for this company and ask for your CV to be kept and to be contacted if any vacancies open.

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5 Tips for public sector interviews

Posted by | March 14, 2014 | career resources

Tip 1: Find out everything you can about the specific position

The better you understand the position and the employer’s needs the more effectively you can show how you’ll benefit their organization. Read the job ad thoroughly – it will often tell you some of the employers major concerns.

Tip 2: Practice introductions

The decision to hire is often made in the first thirty seconds. Make a good first impression: Practice opening a door, coming into a room, offering your hand confidently, smiling and introducing yourself. Use your left hand for carrying, leaving your right hand free for the handshake.

Tip 3: Practice General Interview Question Responses

Practice responses to interview questions – but don’t try to memorize them. Being yourself is essential to interview success. Responses need to feel and sound natural.

When you’ve thought through how you can add value to a specific employer, you’ll be able to easily add examples of how in the answers you provide.

Tip 4: Know how to answer the questions “Why do I want this job?”

Employers aren’t just looking for bodies to fill in vacant positions. They want people who can bring something new and valuable to their business.

The only way you can prove to an interviewer that you’ve got what it takes is to show that you know exactly what his/her organization does. Find out as much as you can.

When you really know the answer to “Why do I want this job?” you’ll be able to answer some important interview questions such as:

  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • Why did you submit your application to our company/organization?
  • What are your general career interests?
  • What do you see yourself doing in five years?

Tip 5: Know how to answer the question: “What do I have to offer?”

Employers want to know why they should hire you. To find out, they ask a variety of questions to help them find out who you are and what you can do. To be prepared, review your experiences at work, at school and in volunteer activities.

  • Keep a mental list of your accomplishments.
  • Think about challenges you’ve faced and how you dealt with them.
  • Remember times that you’ve been a problem-solver.
  • Consider mistakes that you’ve made as learning experiences.

Other important things you need to know

One of the final questions you’ll be asked in an interview is: “Is there anything you would like to know about the organization or the job?”

Answering “No” sends the wrong signals–that you’re not really interested in the organization, don’t know what’s important to you in an employee/employer relationship, or lack confidence and assertiveness. Here are some questions you should be prepared to ask.

  • About the job
    • What is the size of the department/branch/section?
    • Do you have a training program? Could you please describe it?
    • What are my opportunities for advancement?
    • What is the salary range for this position?
  • About the person you would be working for:
    • Who would I report to directly?
    • How long has he/she been with the company?
    • What is their background?



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How to improve your resume

Posted by | March 14, 2014 | career resources

1. Tailor your materials.

One of the most frequent mistakes people make with their resume and cover letter is to create a single version and use it for every job they apply for. With rare exception, each job is going to have a unique set of criteria and qualifications, even when the position is essentially identical from company to company. Take the time to emphasize the areas of your background that match up with the advertised position description.

2. Use a two-page format with a summary.

Most hiring managers don’t read your entire resume. Instead, they’ll skim through it looking to see if you have the basic criteria the position asks for. If they find that, they’ll slow down and read the entire document carefully. This means that if you create a summary of your qualifications as the first section of the resume — ideally, tailored to the position — it places this crucial information right where the reviewer is able to easily access it.

3. Go easy on the bullet points.

Just as with PowerPoint presentations, overuse of bullet points destroys their intended purpose, which is to call attention to selected items. Many resume templates, including the basic ones contained within Microsoft Word, use bullet points for practically every item on the page. A much more effective way to use them is to write a descriptive paragraph to describe your job duties, and save the bullet points for your most attractive accomplishments.

4. Research the company and the job.

One way you can help make your resume stand out is to do some research. If you can learn the name and position of the person who will likely read your resume, address it to them. If you have a good idea of what the company’s mission statement and recent history are, you can use these to help tailor your materials, especially the cover letter. This will also give you an edge when interview time comes, as you’ll be able to demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s needs and how your skills can help achieve them.

5. Check it, double-check it, and have someone else check it.

Spelling and grammar errors send the message that you have poor written communication skills and don’t pay attention to detail. Don’t rely solely on Word’s spell- and grammar-checkers. These tools are a good first step, but make sure you also ask at least one person who is a skilled writer to review your resume for errors.


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Comments Off on when is it time to quit your job

when is it time to quit your job

Posted by | March 14, 2014 | career resources

There are few people out there who at one time or another didn’t want to just quit their jobs. Sometimes that need to escape is the result of a sudden problem and other times it’s a feeling a long time coming. Quitting your job isn’t a decision you should make haphazardly though. It generally has a big impact on your life, and you should therefore give it careful consideration. Here are some situations when you may have to simply say, “I quit!”

Your Job is Making You Sick: Job stress is giving you headaches and backaches, and has you losing sleep. If you can’t work out the problems, you have to put your health first.

You Find Yourself Being Marginalized: Your boss, for a reason unbeknownst to you, has taken away many of your responsibilities. You are treated like the invisible man/woman and are not included in important meetings. Don’t do anything until you talk to your boss to find out what’s going on, but be aware that your boss may be silently urging you to leave. If the situation seems like it won’t improve, think about taking the hint.

You’ve Outgrown Your Job: You may have started your job as a novice. Now you have a lot of experience — more than your job requires. If you can’t utilize your experience at your current job, it’s probably time to start looking for a job where you can put your skills to use.

You Receive a Better Offer Elsewhere: You’ve been stuck at the same salary level for a while with no hope of a pay increase. If you get an offer you are finding difficult to refuse, and everything else about the prospective position seems to be a good fit for you, you should give it serious consideration.

Work is Interfering With Family Responsibilities: Like many people you may be struggling, with limited success, to balance your job and family. If you can afford to, take a hiatus from work. This may mean taking a leave of absence, possibly covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act or, if you can afford it, quitting your job entirely. Many parents do take time off from work in order to devote all their attention to raising their families. You can also consider an alternative work option like working from home.


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