How to Ask for a Job and Get It

Jordana del Feld
3 min readMay 13, 2024

“Roland” dreamed of interning at a particular government office. He loved what the boss was doing. He loved the idea of learning in that environment. And he loved the idea of helping his community in a meaningful way. When he talked about this office, he lit up.

So when he asked for support in writing his cover letter, I was excited to join the crusade.

But when he showed me his initial draft, none of that light-up magic was there. The letter boiled down to, “give me a job.” There was nothing there to help the office understand why they would want to work with Roland. Roland’s in-person passion to work with this office was irresistible. And I knew that if he got the job, he would work tirelessly. But on paper, he came across as selfish and useless.

We took a step back.

I invited him to put himself in the office’s place. They were passionate about their cause. This was a chance for Roland to show that he understood their passion. What if his language reflected that he had taken the time to listen to what the office said it cared about?

And what if he showed them that he too was passionate about their cause?

What if he used the office’s unique vocabulary to share his own passion with them? And what if he shared where he was coming from in a way that showed how his story resonated with the office’s values?

And then what if he conjured a vision of what amazing magic could happen if the office and he joined forces? How could he help the office understand that working with him would not be a case of them doing him a favor, but of them capitalizing on an opportunity that was essential to their cause? How could he help the office understand that if they missed this chance to work with him, they would be working against their own best interests?

I helped Roland reinterpret the job his letter needed to do. Because its job wasn’t “get someone to give him something.” Its job was, “show someone that the magic they dream of can happen when you get together, because of the unique alchemy of who they are and who you are.” Them giving him something would happen as a result of them feeling seen, valued, and curious to develop a relationship with him.

Thinking like this changed Roland’s perspective. He put himself in the office’s shoes. He spelled out what he found intriguing about their work. He clarified what unique perspective and gifts he could bring to the relationship. And he communicated a compelling vision for how their potential relationship could create positive lasting change for the greater community.

Roland got the internship. He was delighted. He had a terrific time, he learned a lot, and he helped his community. Plus, now he knew how to help people understand why they would want to work with him, so he was able to turn other great opportunities into realities.

One day, after the internship ended, he shared a story with me that his office colleagues shared with him. It turned out that the internship program had actually been shut down for five years. But when the office got his letter, they found it so incredible that everyone there took turns reading it aloud. “And every one of them cried,” he told me.

They reinstated the program just for him, because of that letter.

When you want a job, listen carefully to who your potential employer says they want to be. And what they say they want to do, and why. What magic do they want to make? Reflect that back to them. Let them know what makes them special for you. Share how your own qualities resonate with them. Share how a relationship with you could enrich them. Then enchant them with a vision of what marvels of service or productivity could happen if you two get together. Show them the magic that awaits. And wrap it up with a clear call to action.

And you’ll be creating jobs for yourself that didn’t even exist!

Jordana is a psychotherapist accepting new California-based telehealth clients. Learn more at https://www.jordanadelfeld.com/

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