How to write a customized cover letter

Example of a tailor-made cover letter, pasted onto posterboard for visual effect.

Learn how to write a cover letter that gets attention. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Joel Gillman/Flickr)

In order to taste victory in the job market, you must convince a hiring manager that you can financially benefit the company and that you are likable, too. Before securing an interview, stating your case begins with a cover letter. Learn how to write a customized cover letter that emphasizes your unique qualifications to stay ahead of the game.

Don’t just send a resume

For the most part, resumes are a painful bore for employers. Names and jobs change, but the anonymity remains the same. The cover letter is a consumer’s chance to stand out from the herd and capture some interview time. Tailor your cover letter to the company in your sights, and your chances of receiving attention increase. It isn’t as hard as you think.

Changing names on the fly

Admittedly, resume blasts to large groups of companies within a desired field require a great deal of time if you plan to customize each cover letter from scratch. Thus, just changing names to suit the occasion can work, provided you’ve put thought into truly tailoring your language to match the requirements of the best companies within the chosen industry.

Ramp up the detail

A cover letter shouldn’t merely restate the objective or opening statement from your resume — perhaps it shouldn’t do that at all. Change the introduction, including pertinent details you’ve gleaned from your research of the target company. Point out how your work has increased efficiency, “dollarizing” your worth whenever possible. Once your cover letter packs that extra punch, you can flow in bullets regarding your skill set to sell yourself.

Use the best bullets your career can provide

Bullet points are visually convenient for quick reference. An HR staff member or hiring manager can scan your skills and experience to see if it matches up with what the company needs. Address specific requirements laid out in the job ad for the position, but don’t parrot them back exactly. Artful manipulation of language is key. Along the way, use spell check and as many human proofreaders as you can find before clicking send.

Throw the boomerang

Marketing guru Jeffrey Fox wrote a book entitled “Don’t Send a Resume: And Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job.” The book is an invaluable resource for any job seeker, plus it’s short and cheap. When it comes to cover letters, Fox prefers the “boomerang” letter as a response to job ads more than the cookie-cutter resume and cover letter. Not merely an arrow that points to your resume, a boomerang letter is a sales letter that gives a prospective employer a snapshot of your skills and ambitions as they relate to generating money for the company. And like any good sales letter, the high point of a boomerang letter is the point where you assertively ask for the job.

Skip the HR department after the cover letter is sent


“Don’t Send a Resume: And Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job”


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