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The Secret Formula to Cover Letter Success

The Secret Formula to Cover Letter Success

Nina Kim | NonProfitPeople

Paragraph 2: Delve into your past accomplishments and education that relate directly to the job requirements

Okay, now you can start talking about yourself! The second paragraph in your cover letter should delve into your accomplishments that relate directly to the job requirements. Here, you want to be as specific as possible. Your accomplishments should not be a vague summary. They should be measurable results you delivered.

Think facts, figures, context, timelines, major projects, leadership roles — anything specific that will show exactly how hard you’ve worked doing what you’re doing. You were the grants writer? For how many programs? For how many years? What specific skills did this teach you? You analyzed a grant database and wrote reports about the grants you manage? How big was the database? How many people did your reports go to? What problems did you solve?

But remember, you must tie this all in with the job requirements. If they asked for two years experience as a grant writer, tell them you have five. Use specific keywords in the job requirements so the hiring managers can easily see you match the profile of someone they’re looking to fill the job. These days, employers often use scanning software to specifically look for keywords, so the more words you leave out, the less likely your resume or cover letter will be looked at by a real person.

This should be the “beefiest” part of your cover letter, so if you need to, take two paragraphs to explain what you’ve been doing. Avoid huge chunks of text at all cost.

In the example below, the writer specifically mentions her position and nonprofit she worked at then goes on to show how she was able to multi-task effectively. She doesn’t just say she’s good at multi-tasking — she gives examples of tasks she was assigned. When she speaks of the patient to nurse ratio, she gives exact numbers and even mentions a particular award she won. The last sentence about pursuing the graduate studies in nonprofit management is key and shows the hiring manager she is committed to her career development.

Working as an annual event planner at the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, I learned the importance of on-my-feet thinking and effective assessing while multitasking, even in high-stress situations. When I wasn’t registering last-minute participants, I was helping our top notch speakers get checked in to the venue, loading up their PowerPoint presentations and doing my best to ensure they were comfortable and happy the whole way through. Despite frequently being understaffed, I managed to keep even the largest events under control and won our Star Performer award two years in a row. I love working with nonprofit organizations and am interested in furthering my education in nonprofit management in the future.

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