Applying for jobs is extremely time-consuming. Often job seekers hope to save time by re-using old cover letters or by writing one cover letter to all potential employers. However, sending the same cover letter to every employer is not a good job hunt strategy. Instead, change your cover letter to reflect the unique aspects of every position to which you apply.
Every time you apply for a new job, you need to change your cover letter. As you do, ensure the letter is addressed to the correct hiring manager or company contact, and confirm that the job title to which you are applying matches the title you indicate in your cover letter. Just making these surface-level changes is not enough, however. You also need to rewrite your cover letter to address the specific requirements listed in the job posting.
Start by reading the job posting and noting the requirements listed for the position. Pay attention to special job posting language such as "people person" or "self-starter." These words are all clues as to the type of candidate the company hopes to hire. Consider making a list of every term or requirement included in the job posting, from "go-getter" to "familiar with HTML."
Then make sure your cover letter addresses each term or requirement included in the posting. If the job wants someone with five years of experience in office administration, make sure your letter includes a sentence describing your office administration experience. Do not assume hiring managers will learn this information from your resume. As Fast Company notes, some hiring managers read the cover letter first and only read the resume if the cover letter meets their approval.
Not all cover letter changes need to include a full rewrite. Often, it is easy to re-use sentences or even whole paragraphs of your cover letter. If you are applying for several similar positions, it is possible to keep much of your cover letter intact and only change your cover letter where it is relevant, such as to note a special skill that applies directly to an individual job posting.
You also need to change your cover letter if you apply for several jobs without hearing anything back from an interviewer. This might mean that your cover letter is not getting you the results you need. Consider rewriting your cover letter from scratch and requesting feedback from people in your industry before sending your cover letter out regarding another job application.
How often should you change your cover letter? You should change it every time you apply for a new job. Even if you leave the majority of your cover letter in place, make sure your cover letter reflects each of the individual requirements listed in the job posting.
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