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As a frustrated job seeker, it’s tempting to be dismissive of The Cover Letter. (Dun dun dun…) Do you really have to prolong the application process to tailor cover letters to every single job application? Do they even get read? While it’s simpler to send out batches of your carefully crafted resume and ignore the cover letter aspect altogether, please know that the C.L. isn’t going anywhere.

Yes, there are some big companies that are so busy that they don’t take time to read your letter, but smaller and mid-sized organizations do, and personalization and effort will get you noticed. Taking some time to customize your cover letter will make you stand out from the crowd, and with practice, it’ll become a habitual part of your job search as much as double-checking for typos in your resume.

Your resume is ready to go, now what about the cover letter? Let’s say you’re a lawyer; you don’t go to court with one piece of evidence and call it a day. You have a stronger case for why you deserve this role by supplying enough proof. The resume is a quick overview, bullet points of your work history and accomplishments, and your cover letter is the narrative, showcasing your talent and putting a spotlight on why you are the perfect candidate for this job. In this blog, we offer successful strategies for building and customizing your cover letters.

If you remember high school English, they teach you that the structure of any composition begins with a hook. Why should your reader care? In this case, your target audience is a hiring authority, and it’s important that your relationship begins on the right foot. There are a few ways to introduce yourself: You can kick it off with your current job title and what successes you’ve had in this role, using your network to your advantage, or emphasizing the company’s recent good press as a reason for your enthusiasm to join their team. Your introduction should achieve 3 goals:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Clearly state the role you are applying for
  3. Make some reference of where you came across information about the position or company

Check, check, check! Great, what’s next?

Your resume is a comprehensive look at your work experience, and while you’re welcome to use it as a tool to draft your cover letter, be careful that you aren’t just regurgitating the exact same content. Quick tips for the body paragraphs of your cover letter:

  • This is where you can address something you can’t explain in your resume, such as employment gaps, relocations, or unrelated experience.
  • Include keywords that resonate with company values or the role you’re applying for.
  • Be very wary of copy/paste. Don’t get so automated when applying for jobs that you accidentally send a cover letter targeting (or mentioning!) the wrong company. Like Snapchat – once it’s sent, it’s out of your hands and you don’t get a do-over.
  • Keep the copy concise; about 3-5 paragraphs. Leave longer anecdotes for the interview!
  • Customize your document to the job description, not necessarily the company. Fast Company advises that, “it’s better to show your enthusiasm for the specifics of the role, rather than the organization in general.” Take the job description and list the requirements, then match the skills that you have to the qualifications, highlighting those attributes in your cover letter.

Finally, when concluding your letter, thank the corresponding hiring authority for their consideration and include a call to action. Glassdoor compiled a list of closing phrases that you could include as an impactful CTA. You may mention that you will be following the application up with a phone call within the coming week, or provide references to boost your character and qualifications.

Are you ready to shake up your job search but aren’t quite sure where to start? If you are curious about what your future might hold, reach out to Sandra Smith via email at Sandra@insight-itc.com to discuss what opportunities are available.