What are three ways to make a cover letter stand out? – Sammy M., Washington, DC

Cover letters are a great way to showcase why you’re the best person for the job, but it’s easy to write a bad one. Here are three things to keep in mind: 1. Your cover letter is not your resume. Don’t waste space by repeating what’s on your resume. Instead, expand on key responsibilities and

Question: My employer let me go after only two days working as a bartender at a Chicago restaurant. My schedule was Wednesday through Saturday, but my childcare fell through. I told my manager, and kept in touch with her over the next couple of days while I worked everything out. When I called and told her I had childcare but couldn’t work Wednesdays, she told me they were going to go with someone else and didn’t want to take a risk because I had kids and unreliable child care. Isn’t that discrimination? A lot of people say I may have a lawsuit. Do I? — Anonymous

Answer: Unfortunately for you, Illinois is an “at-will” state, which means employers can let you go for any reason, so long as bias against a legally protected group is not involved. The law states that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, age, or disability. And, though it wasn’t too bright

Question: I have 14 years experience in non-profit development and left my last job in January to move my family across the country and have my third child. I would like to return to work in the non-profit sector in my new city this fall. I am wondering the best approach to applying for work after an absence, albeit brief, and in a new community where I have no professional connections. I landed my previous positions pre-recession simply by applying and sending in resumes, so any tips on networking and getting to the ‘top of the list’ would be greatly appreciated. — Larsen

Answer: It’s reasonable to wonder, with a slow jobs recovery, whether biases against working mothers will factor into employers’ hiring decisions. In your case, there are 14 years of experience to consider and you have only been off work for six months. These aren’t red flags to most employers. You had a child and relocated.

Jobseekers: The government’s monthly jobs report in March was a bit confusing. It showed the national unemployment rate dipping slightly to 8.2 percent but that companies hired fewer people. The White House called the news encouraging. In the meantime, those who have focused their job search on the private sector might want to think about a career at a nonprofit.

There are a lot of good reasons why. The Nonprofit Times recently released its top 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For list. The pollsters concluded that nonprofit employees are happier than private sector workers. In nearly all categories, employees rated their job satisfaction above 85 percent. Those in the top 10 had approval ratings of

How important is it to love your job?

Careers In Nonprofits surveyed 200 current and former CNP job candidates seeking positions ranging from entry- to executive-level in Chicago and Washington, D.C. (100 from each city) to find out how they felt about work. In both cities, more than 60 percent of respondents said they love their jobs, with 62 percent in Chicago and

Question1: The last few years have been very difficult for job-seekers, and many of us have taken temporary assignments with agencies such as CNP while we search for permanent work. While the temporary positions have helped me learn new skills and support myself financially during my search, I am having trouble explaining the job-jumping and short-term positions to potential employers during interviews and don’t know how to list them on my resume. Any advice? – Leslie S.

Question2: With the economic downturn, I have found myself laid off from 3 positions over the last 3 years. I always received great performance reviews and got along well with my coworkers, but was one of the more recent hires and therefore my positions were some of the first to be eliminated. I’ve been feeling

Question: I am very fortunate to have a job I love! I have been working at a great company for almost 2 years now, and as much as I love what I do, I am interested in career growth. This is one of my first jobs out of college, so I’m not quite sure how to climb the ladder yet. Do you have any hints on the best way to go about this? – Brian H.

Answer: Whether this is your first job or you’re a seasoned professional, it is always a good idea to be thinking about career growth! Not only does focusing on career growth demonstrate that you are a go-getter and have goals, but also that you are invested in your company and career. However, it is important

Question: What advice can you give to candidates—who may not have years of experience but still have worked hard to gain relevant skills—to market their value to potential employees? –J. Orloki, Alexandria, VA

Answer: Job searching is tricky. It’s tough work and very often feels endless. It can be especially discouraging to new grads or professionals seeking a career change, two groups that have unique experiences behind them that may or may not directly relate to the profession they’d like to enter. So what’s a person to do

Question: How long should one stay in an entry level position? – Nashika T., Chicago

Answer: The short answer here is that it’s relative. The question here shouldn’t necessarily be about how long one should stay but rather how to optimize an entry level role. Of course, no one’s expecting you to stay for ten years—but two years? Absolutely; there’s a point in the beginning of everyone’s career where you

Question: “What advice/tips do you have for finding a potential mentor and asking them to be your mentor?” – Melor S. in Silver Spring, RD

Answer: Mentors give valuable advice, introduce you to life-changing contacts and opportunities, and guide by example. It’s to your advantage to have a mentor, and some even say you can’t get ahead at all without one. First, examine your career so far and where you want to go—next quarter, next year, in five years. Identify