Cover letters are about choosing, arranging, and expressing your skills in relation to the job you want. A big part of finding a job is identifying how your experience matches with what an employer needs.
If your work and volunteer history comes primarily from working within Aboriginal communities, you may think that that your experiences and knowledge may not transfer to non-Aboriginal places of employment. But you’d be surprised at how easily your skills can be applied to your professional career: after all, it’s all about how you present your expertise.
Making Your Community Involvement Work for You
At a general level, your skills and experience with community will be attractive to a company looking to increase its own level of community involvement. You can express your background in community participation as a sign of your capacity to work with others and – depending on your experience – to lead.
Having this type of experience means you likely have an extensive community network and an understanding of what individuals in the community may want. In a corporate setting, this means that you could effectively help a company compete for business with in a particular target demographic. Similarly, if you come from a minoritized background, your cross-cultural aptitude and ability to negotiate two worlds is a valuable asset.
Within your cover letter you have an opportunity to practice these cross-cultural communication skills. Keep in mind possible differences between your knowledge-base and that of your employers. For example, these may include titles frequently used in governmental capacities, or terms in Indigenous languages. Identify and treat potential moments of misunderstanding as occasions to showcase your ability to clarify unfamiliar experiences or concepts for others.
How to highlight your work within Aboriginal Communities
The key to writing a good cover letter is finding ways to talk about your community participation at the intersection of specific experiences you have, and specific skills the position requires. Here are examples of how you might express more specific experiences coming out of community participation.
Making Your Event Planning Work for You
Did you plan social events or cultural activities for your community? The steps involved in planning something like a Valentine’s Day Youth Dance at a friendship centre can translate into skills in project management, such as promotion, marketing, or outreach.
Project management involves responsibility, organization, and leadership. Choose an experience to relate in your cover letter that highlights the aspects of project management most needed for this job. All three of these skills have more to do more with your personality than they do with skills anyone could learn. Remember to emphasize what you personally brought to the project.
Promotion can be explained in more than one way. If you made an event known to particular groups, you might describe your work as outreach. This angle underlines your ability to connect to communities. To accentuate your ability to create interest in an event or product, you might call the same experience marketing.
Making Your Online Presence Work for You
Did you maintain a website, write a blog, or use social media for your school’s Aboriginal students association a community group or event? Companies need to think about their web presence and may be looking for employees with sophisticated talents in this area. While skills in web management or social media will be useful for many jobs, the communication skills involved in these tasks are important no matter what kind of work you will be doing.
In addition to web management and communication skills, participating in a public forum–like Aboriginal student association council meetings–demonstrates leadership potential. You can use this undertaking to show that you have the courage to speak up about what matters to you. This experience also shows that others had the confidence in you to let you speak for the group. One way to illustrate this support is to summarize the kinds of positive comments people left on your blog or the amount of traffic your website gets.
Making your Mentorship Experience Work for You
Did you mentor someone in your community in a youth justice or wellness program? Mentorship demonstrates your potential as a teacher and team-player. The ability to teach others shows that you have the ability to learn well first. Teaching and learning can be divided into all kinds of contributing skills and qualities, like self-reflection, humility, and the ability to work with complex information.
Mentorship experiences are usually recognized in a formalized capacity, such as when you volunteer for or work at a particular organization. But they can be informal as well. Your cover letter is the place where you can talk about a great experience you had sharing your skills with a younger sibling or former co-worker.
You can talk about being mentored on a cover letter, too. Sometimes describing learning something new about yourself, a topic, or how to accomplish a task, can make a very compelling story. Show your potential employer what you’ve done with a moment of learning.