From a recent ad for Oceana, a non-profit, here’s evidence that it really matters whether you emphasize your desire to work at a place:

The Office Coordinator will support the Vice President of Global Development and will assist in fundraising efforts of Oceana. Oceana will only consider an individual who has a clear passion and interest in the oceans and marine conservation.

I sometimes see this stated, and believe it is implicit in every single job posting: employers want to hire the person who really wants to work specifically for them.

This goes for both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Just because they may not have a “feel good” mission like a non-profit, don’t think for a minute that for-profit companies are exempt from wanting to hire “true believers.” Just like non-profits, for-profits want to hire someone who cares enough to learn about their company, industry, and business model.

When you demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for a company or organization, you demonstrate how you will be on the job – eager to learn and enthusiastic about your work. As the saying goes “how you do anything is how you do everything.” This applies especially in job seeking.

If you don’t care about a purpose now, is there a chance you would care later? It’s OK not to know if you care about an organization, mission, industry, or business purpose – as long as you put in the effort to find out if you do. So go ahead and find out quickly. Do a little research:

  1. Read the company website 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.
  2. Go to Wikipedia to find out more about the topic
  3. Do a search on the organization to see what press they get and what others say about them
  4. Ask your friends what they know and think
  5. Do a “gut check” to see if you have even the flickering of interest, enthusiasm or passion
  • If you find there is great synergy between your values and those of the organization, by all means apply. You may find that you really DO care about the cause in which case use that enthusiasm in your cover letter. You can even be more enthusiastic in your letter than you actually feel, as long as you authentically care to some extent. Passion for a purpose often grows over time.
  • 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 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.  Don’t waste your own or the employer’s time.
  • If there’s a question in your mind, I recommend taking the next step of applying to find more information. 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.
  • Learning about the organization sets you up to write an effective cover letter.