Let’s face it, a blanket cover letter just isn’t going to cut it these days. So how can you make the best use of your time while maximizing your results? Here are a few simple steps to customizing your cover letters. (And if you don’t think you SHOULD customize your cover letter for each application you submit, then we have bigger problems than I thought…)
The Perfect Cover Letter For Any Job Has...
A Memorable OpenerHere’s a mistake I see more and more job seekers making: the opening line on their cover letter reads, "Please accept this in response to the (position) advertised on month day, year." What’s wrong with this kind of opening line? Everyone uses it. The point of your job search is to stand out from the crowd—not get lost in the midst of it. Instead, try using something similar to your branding statement. You can easily tweak your branding statement to be a customized opening line. For example: With more than 10 years of profit-driven project management expertise… What’s different about this opening line? I’m already addressing the company’s need for a bottom-line-driven project manager; sharing my years of experience; and hitting the job title on the dot. That’s three big points you’ve scored in the first line alone.
Facts That Support RequirementsAfter you’ve written your opening lines (which express your interest in the position and introduce you to the prospective employer) immediately jump into how you can meet the organization’s needs based on the requirements the company posted in its online ad or job description. "I see you are interested in hiring someone with strategic-change management experience." (Or whatever the key requirement of the position is—highlight it here). Then tell—or even better, SHOW—the reader why you have that experience: "In my present role with ABC Distributors, I did XYZ, which resulted in JKL." Showing the potential employer—right off the bat—you possess a desired attribute or requirement for the position will prompt the hiring manager to invest more time in reading your resume. If your cover letter states—in so many words—"I am the perfect match for your opening, and I can meet/exceed your needs," then, you immediately get my attention, and I’m more likely to invest time in reviewing your resume. Here’s a tip: Do not use bullet points or material word-for-word from your resume; provide the hiring manager with fresh information on your cover letter.
Details Are ImportantHere are a few small details to remember when crafting a cover letter to fit a specific opening:
- Make sure that your cover letter heading matches your resume’s.
- Include your branding statement with your header at the top of your cover letter. It enforces your brand and provides a polished touch.
- Include a quote from a former employer if relevant and hard-hitting. This is a great way to “sell” what you’re capable of accomplishing for an organization. If the prospective employer has a specific requirement in its job ad—and you’ve already done that somewhere else and have a great recommendation or quote from a previous supervisor to back it up—WOW! There really isn’t any better sales/marketing material than that. Not much can beat a quote about your results.