If you follow this blog, you know I work for NPR. As you might expect, I get to work with some smart people. Mensa smart. After 18 months at NPR I’ve grown accustomed to the intelligence in the building; but am also reminded of thoughtful, caring and compassionate employees we have quite often.
One of these colleagues is Matt Thompson, our Director of Digital Initiatives (and Mischief). Yes, that is his real title. Yes, he is cool enough to carry it. Matt wears many hats at NPR, but one of them is to be the lead resume reviewer on a new hiring initiative building our new Race, Ethnicity and Culture team.
We’ve had over 1300 applications for four open positions. Matt and the hiring team will be reviewing every one of them. He recently penned an article for Poytner detailing what he’s learned in an effort to help journalists seeking jobs - 10 ways to make your journalism job application better than everyone else’s. You should read it. The tips and points he lists are valuable for all job seekers, and transcend journalism. It was one of the more thoughtful collections of advice from a hiring manager I’ve read. I wanted to highlight a few tips that really stood out: Continue reading
I just returned from the UNITY12 conference in Las Vegas where I had an opportunity to lead a panel discussion of recruiters sharing job search tips. We spent a good amount of time discussing cover letters so I wanted to share some of those tips.
- If the application instructions request a cover letter, be sure to include it. (you’d think this is a given, but recruiters and hiring managers see a lot of applications without them. Don’t be that applicant.)
- Avoid cover letter templates that are clearly boilerplate. It’s important to personalize your cover letter to the organization. More on that below. (If you do use templates, BE SURE to double-check the company name before sending. Listing company A when you’re applying to company B will sink your application)
- There are 3 things you should convey in every cover letter: a) why you’re interest in the organization b) why you’re interested in the role c) why you would bring to the role or team. The last point is important, as it allows you ro present yourself as someone who is bringing solutions to the problems this job is trying to solve.
- Make sure your cover letter does not exceed one page. This is a general rule. There are exceptions in situations where you’re asked to answer multiple questions or provide lengthy feedback. Anything more than a page runs the risk of not being read when a recruiter or hiring manager has hundreds of applicants to consider.
There was a great article shared by Craig Fisher (@Fishdogs) recently, Best Cover Letters of 2012, with examples of cover letters you might want to review for inspiration. A key point to consider is cover letters won’t even be read if the resume doesn’t align with the role, so make sure your resume is strong first. What advice would you have?