How to Tailor Your Cover Letter
In the age of technology, some people say cover letter writing has become a lost art. But many employers still require cover letters, and they expect them to be tailored to the open position.
Think of your cover letter as your “elevator pitch” – it’s your chance to entice the employer to take a deeper look at your resume.
Sending a generic cover letter implies you’re not really interested in the job or, even worse, you didn’t want to spend the necessary time and effort on it.
Your cover letter is where you can tailor it to each role you apply for and address it to each hiring manager. You should have one master resume that you use with multiple tailored cover letters.
Remember, connecting with the right people who can offer you a job is the only way to get hired! Submit your resume through the required means (company website, job board, LinkedIn, etc.) and ALWAYS follow-up with a hard copy of your resume/targeted cover letter via physical mail that concisely showcases why you are the best candidate.
Here are some tips from Empire Resume experts on how to tailor your cover letter so you can land an interview:
Address it to the Hiring Manager
It’s smart to address each cover letter to the specific hiring manager at each company. Of course, that information may not be listed in the job posting.
If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name and title, do some research to find out. Browse the company’s website or call the company’s main number and ask for the name and title of the hiring manager.
It’s tempting to write a generic “To Whom It May Concern,” especially if you’re burned out from sending dozens of applications. But remember: No job is the same, so the cover letters shouldn’t be the same, either.
Addressing the cover letter to the hiring manager shows you put in extra effort, which can further impress the employer.
Identify the Decision Maker
There are other ways to identify the decision makers as well. The hiring manager for the job you’re applying to is the key decision maker on whether you’ll get called in for an interview. Job hunting is all about connecting and networking with these decision makers.
When you find an open position or company you’re interested in, research who the decision makers are via LinkedIn and Google.
LinkedIn is an excellent networking tool that’ll allow you to search directly for the titles of decision makers at the companies you’re interested in. You can also do a targeted Google search using quotation marks for the relevant title and company that’ll sift through irrelevant search results.
Another way of connecting with key decision makers is to utilize your own networking skills. Reach out to people who know or work for the decision makers that can potentially put you in touch with them or give you a referral.
Finally, if you do find a decision maker on LinkedIn, don’t be hesitant to send them a direct message. Mention you applied for the open position, introduce yourself, and keep the message short and sweet.
Personalize Your Cover Letter to the Job
The best way to write a killer cover letter is to study the job description and find out exactly what the employer is looking for. Then give specific examples of how you’ve delivered on those skills and job requirements in the past.
While you’ll be selling yourself in the cover letter, you should also mention why you want to work for the company. Explain why the position appeals to you.
For example, if you’re applying to a nonprofit, write why you’re dedicated to their specific cause and how you can help them further that cause.
Just like with resumes, remember to include keywords, as well. Use key phrases from the job description, if they match your skills and experience.
Incorporating keywords will help you get past possible software that filters out cover letters, and it’ll also show you speak the employer’s language.
Lastly, keep the cover letter brief. Most employers sift through dozens of cover letters, so short and sweet should be the goal. Empire Resume experts recommend two to four paragraphs at the most and no more than one printed page.
Applying for the Position
Apply to the job through the required means, such as the company’s job portal or LinkedIn. But remember to always follow up by sending a hard copy via snail mail. It’s an extra networking step that can make a HUGE difference.
Sending a hard copy of your resume and cover letter makes you stand out because nearly all job seekers today rely on only sending applications electronically. Empire Resume experts know from experience that a physically mailed copy of applications significantly increases the chances of a call back.
If you still don’t hear back, remember to send follow up emails, too. Shoot an email to the hiring manager with a brief message to make sure he or she actually reviews your credentials.
Empire Resume advises sending three follow-up emails, which is enough to get the manager’s attention without going overboard. After three emails, you can feel confident you’ve exhausted your efforts and move on to the next open positions you’ve got your eyes on.
Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.