We live in a world where customization is king. People always want more then the baseline model when it comes to cars, clothing, real estate, etc. Why then do job hunters submit so many generic cover letters when seeking out employment? A customized cover letter will allow you to differentiate yourself for the applicant pool. Although customization will require some time and effort on your end, by following these five simple tips you will increase your chances of landing an interview.
What is the employer looking for? Emphasize how your skills and experiences align with the job description. Make it easy for the HR representative to place your application on the desk of the hiring manager.
Highlight your fit.
While you may have the necessary qualifications for this position, why should you work for this company? Review the company mission, vision, and values. Find things that resonate with you and tell the employer why you specifically want to work for them.
Quantify your accomplishments.
You’ve already proven your qualifications and fit–now it’s time to show the company how your past behavior will impact your future success with them. List specific examples of a few accomplishments related to the position. Show them first-hand what you can bring to the table.
Find out who the hiring manager is and address the cover letter to them. This can be as easy as looking on the company website or calling HR. Also, make sure you list not only the specific job title, but also how you heard about the position in your opening paragraph.
Mail merge is not your friend.
For those applying to multiple positions, mail merge can be an easy way of formatting cover letters. As someone who has hired for multiple positions, I can say that (unfortunately) I have received many cover letters addressed to the wrong company and/or for the wrong position. As great as those candidates might have been, they did not move forward in the process because of this error. As such, I suggest that you write and edit each cover letter individually. If you feel the need to use mail merge, make sure you double-check these key pieces of information before sending these documents to potential employers.
Cover letters are yet another marketing tool for you in your job and/or internship search. They give you the opportunity to call attention to specific items on your resume while showcasing your personality. Once you’ve created the working draft/template for your cover letter, plug in tips 1-4 and you’ll have your very own customized cover letter.
Heather currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Services for the Undergraduate Career Services Office in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In her role, Heather guides students throughout their career development, lectures on career-related topics and personal branding, presents career workshops for students, supervises a team of career coaches, and develops/manages the social media efforts for her office. Before making the switch to Student Affairs, Heather worked in Marketing, Sales, and Promotion within the Music & Entertainment industry. Originally from New Jersey, Heather attended Indiana University for her undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for her graduate studies. You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.