When looking at job openings, I think it’s a good idea to check out the organization’s web site to get a better idea of its mission, values, activities and impact. There’s no better way of finding out whether the organization will be the right fit for you and whether you’ll be a good to great fit for it.

  • If you find there is great synergy between your values and those of the organization, by all means apply.
  • If you don’t admire the organization or think you wouldn’t be a good fit, then it’s probably better not to apply.
  • If there’s a question in your mind, I recommend taking the next step of applying to find more information.

Learning about the organization sets you up to write an effective cover letter. I recommend being enthusiastic about the company in your cover letter. Employers want to hire someone who wants to work for them. If it’s a toss-up between two people with relatively equal qualifications, the employer normally will interview and select the person who convinces them that s/he wants to be part of the company. Thus, I believe it’s usually better to err on the side of flattery for an organization and saying you think you’re a good, great or even perfect fit.

In my humble opinion (IMHO), it’s OK to say you admire an organization even if you don’t think it’s perfect. You can still think there are places you think they could improve. Usually we hope to make an impact on our place of work, and I’d expect you to see things that you could do, contributions you could make, improvements awaiting your presence.

Of course, you can make clear in your cover letter that you have a point of view based on experience. The question is whether your point of view complements or contradicts the prospective employer’s focus.

  • If your values and views complement the employer’s, then move forward in hopes of gathering more information about the employer. Send in your resume with a cover letter that emphasizes your positive feelings about the company. Hopefully, you’ll be selected for an interview. If not, then it wasn’t meant to be.
  • If your values and views contradict the employer’s, then it’s unlikely you’ll be happy there. Move on to apply for other jobs with which you have more congruence.