Cover letter + resume

February 24, 2014 — 10 Comments

I saw the job posting for Web Developer at the Free Software Foundation, and it grabbed me. I am willing (excited, actually) to move to Boston and everything (and Susan is supportive of this life journey, so all those bases are covered). But I have a problem, I don’t really know how to write a cover letter or resume. I’ve been freelance webcrafting for many, many years now. Also, nearly all of my work, and all of it for last year, has been by referral. I am confident in my abilities, and am a capable speaker, so normally a short discussion and maybe a few links are all I’ve needed for years.

It was nerve-wracking to start, because I realize that I really want this job. We are really rocking right now, and are quite happy here in Oakland, where there is a renaissance happening around us. This isn’t a desperate attempt to better our situation, and that is what’s scary. I can handle stress and uncertainty, because I have a personality and particular skillset for that. This is different: if I wrote a job description for myself at an org I wanted to work at, it would basically be that posting, on that site. I’ve worked to help the people around me, and I’ve worked to support my family. I’d like to be selfish, and do the work I’ve been doing for free, in my spare time, but as my job.

Imagine never having to defend using free software!

So that is where you come in. I need help. I’ve read a gazillion cover letter and resume writing pages, and have a basic structure in mind, but I could use some proofreading and feedback. Also, assorted questions. I was gonna email specific people, but it is more my style to be publicly vulnerable, because it tends to get stuff done, quickly.

Below I am going to insert pre-formatted text of the cover letter and resume I’ve written in text files. I will also include a list of links to my work, but since I should do that anyways, I am going to make it a separate post (or page). Edit: I am going to proofread them a couple more times, but if you want to point out grammar and spelling, that is fine. ^_^

Questions

  • Should I send it in a different format, so I can set headings and such?
  • I wrote more formal in the cover letter, but realized that is the chance for them to hear my written voice, and that is important in my work. Thoughts?
  • I’ve read that resumes are glanced at, and although I think the FSF will be more attentive, how can I structure it so the important stuff is where it should be?
  • I’ve come to believe that I contribute to a lot of projects in non-coding capacities, but I am not sure how to reference that. For instance, I provide public analytics to GNU MediaGoblin. Is that too much pandering to mention that? Does it come up in an interview?
  • On the resume, should I leave off, change, or add interesting facts about me?
  • What is the deal with letters of recommendation? Presuming I had them, do I send that with the resume, or bring them to an interview?
  • Would you be willing to write me a letter of recommendation? ^_^

Thanks so much for reading this stuff! Please leave feedback in the comments, or email me at maiki@interi.org!

Okay, here is the cover letter:

Hi, my name is maiki. I am sending in my resume for the recently created Web Developer position. I am a freelancer webcrafter, a term I use because I often work with non-profit and community-based organizations that don't have technical staff on hand, and I fill in the skills they need to create and maintain their web presence. My last non-freelance job was as the Communications Director for a non-profit bicycle coalition.

When I saw the position posted, I became giddy. I love free software, and I love the web. Learning how to use free software and build websites were important parts of my life, and I continue to pay it forward with the work I do now. The reason for my excitement is that the software listed looks like tremendous fun, and I have self-hosted most of them, and contributed to four of the projects. Having a job supporting and building on those systems feels like I wrote the posting for me.

I live in Oakland with my small family, and here I am striving to shine light on the shared narrative between user freedom and social justice. I am on the ground here, training and empowering folks that have terrific missions, but had never been exposed to free, libre and open movement. I am making great strides, and I feel that I could increase my scale by help the FSF make the most of its web systems.

I am more than willing to come to Boston to work with you. If it isn't too presumptuous, if you'd grant me an interview, perhaps we could coordinate it to coincide with LibrePlanet, next month. I am sure everyone there is busy before, during and after the event, but I could come a couple days early or stay later if we could arrange that then.

maiki interi
2323 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612
510-593-8799
maiki@interi.org

And the resume:

maiki interi
2323 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612 - 510-593-8799 - maiki@interi.org

Qualifications
A decade of experience working in all aspects of webcraft: hosting, development, design, marketing, content strategy, information architecture, documentation and training. Additional experience in running communications for non-profits: outreach, grant-writing and appeals, volunteer management, messaging and tone, and establishing institutional memory through policies and documentation.

Experience
The majority of my work will be included in the accompanying links document, but I've had the opportunity to establish several long-term, ongoing relationships.

Avalon Travel/Seal Press
Contract Webcrafter (2013 - Present)
* Salvaged an 18-month overdue, over budget project, relaunched in six weeks
* Built a network of sites with free software; have moved over the two primary sites for this publisher, and have launched several others.
* Other members of Perseus Books Group have began migrating sites away from proprietary, closed systems to this network.
* Part of an ongoing internal discussion on the alternatives to DRM-infected books, building tools to facilitate that process.
* Relevant sites: Moon Handbooks (http://moon.com), Seal Press (http://sealpress.com)

Center for Media Change
Contract Webcrafter, Technical Advisor (2009 - Present)
* Built Oakland Local, a prominent community news site.
* Leveraged interesting configurations (Drupal, WordPress) to serve underrepresented groups in Oakland; the site could subscribe to a newsletter and turn it into web post, for hundreds of local non-profits that didn't have websites.
* Built Live Work Oakland, a tech and business directory, in partnership with The Kapor Center for Social Impact (they insisted on using Google Maps instead of OpenStreetMaps).
* Soon to launch a new data-driven Oakland Police Dept. accountability site.
* Relevant sites: Oakland Local (http://oaklandlocal.com), Live Work Oakland (http://liveworkoakland.com)

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Contract Webcrafter (2009 - Present)
* Ongoing development and design for the web
* Project management and branding/design for print and physical assets (etched glass!)
* Technical advisor for infrastructure, which includes StatusNet and ownCloud for internal use.
Communications Director (2007 - 2009)
* Established policies ranging from content strategy to licensing, with training and documentation
* Public speaking for civil, academic, advocacy and general audiences, as well as lobbying at the Federal level.
* Managed volunteers in all aspects of our work (including valet bike parking, which is really hard!).
Relevant site: Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (http://bikesiliconvalley.org)

Skills
Web Software - CiviCRM, Drupal, MediaWiki, Plone, Ikiwiki, Etherpad, StatusNet, GNU MediaGoblin, WordPress, ownCloud, Piwik, GitLab, Gitorious, LAMP in general, and a whole bunch more.
Practical - As a freelancer, I have to communicate with a variety of people, across time, space and technical ability. My success at working with others is demonstrated in that I only take referral work, and I have to schedule folks' projects months away.
Server Stuff - I use a variety of services and vendors to host my websites, including: personal computers, co-located racks, Rackspace, Linode, Digital Ocean and WPEngine.

Interesting things I want you to know
* Last year all my work was by referral, and I had 100% conversion to clients!
* Last year, all my checks were signed by women, and most of the developers I work with are women!
* I have probably hosted more StatusNet instances than anyone aside from Evan!
* GNU MediaGoblin's initial release was a few months before my child was born, so for the first year or so, our family instance was the largest GMG site on the web (and was featured in the first campaign video)!

10 responses to Cover letter + resume

  1. You’re hired. Just send HR the link. Save some paper.

  2. You know how to write, now we can say definitively that is inclusive of cover letters and resumes. If you want to pander, replace the word content. Mentioning providing public analytics for GNU MediaGoblin would not be pandering.

    Your styling on pre is nice, I think — wrap, but what you have in there isn’t fully preformatted, so words are broken across lines in odd places without a hyphen, and a few lines start with a space. I’d either format with HTML or fully preformat, ie build in linebreaks.

    I’d be sad to see you leave Oakland, but you’d be great at FSF!

  3. Dude, this all looks great. Would be so sad if you left, but as we discussed, you have to go for it and see what happens.

  4. Wow, that job posting sounds like it was written for you. I’ve never worked with anyone before or since that was as passionate about their work as you are. Sending positive thoughts your way.

    I would be happy to write you a recommendation; what format would work best for you?

  5. Nth-ing previous comments. This is great, and if you’re what they’re looking for this explains that near perfectly, and if you’re not then they’re not as clever as I hope they are!

    I mean, you know this reads in your voice. You’ve got, for example, a lot of exclamation marks, which are probably verboten on some of the guides you’ve looked over. But I like it.

    As far as formatting goes, I’d send them a document and mention that it also lives here. It may be easier for their workflow to have documents from all applicants.

    Let me know if you want a rec from me. I’ll happily provide, but I may not know the person who’s hiring for this job personally. I’d be sad to see you leave town, but you’re right, this sounds great.

  6. Have you submitted yet?

    • Yep. Posted about that as well. ^_^

      • Huh. RSS reader Feedly had this as the last post. I only had one tiny, minute OCD grammar comment, that a teacher made to me once, and has stuck with me. No matter now! Boston is a neat place!

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