How To Target Your Cover Letter To The Job
One of the most powerful ways to get your resume noticed by an employer is by including a strong cover letter that speaks directly to the job. So to help increase the chances of getting your resume selected, here is a basic sample cover letter targeted to a specific job that you can use as a template to write your own cover letter.
And yes … it really can make a difference. By carefully targeting your cover letter to each job, you have a far better chance of grabbing the screener's attention – and winning that all-important interview. And targeting both your resume AND cover letter is your ultimate "one-two" punch!
In case you need help with cover letter basics
To help you with writing your own, I'm including a template of what a TARGETED cover letter might look like. But first, it might help to review the things that generally go into a strong cover letter:
Job description elements to target for this example
The job we'll be using in this case is Business Analyst. So before I show you a sample cover letter, let's first look at some key requirements in the job description (borrowed from a post about targeting business analyst resumes), since the description is where you find skills you want to target.
"We're looking for a Senior Business Analyst with Oracle experience (preferred), a thorough understanding of human resources business functions, and experience in requirements gathering, business process improvement, and software testing including planning, execution, and reporting. Some of the specific requirements include:
- A minimum of 5 years experience as a business analyst. Usability/ user experience expertise a plus.
- Oversees all functional aspects of system development, in partnership with the technical lead.
- Experience and proficiency in preparing planning documents and written reports.
- Ability to produce high quality requirement specifications to support ERP functional design development.
- Writes detailed functional test plans to ensure system changes work properly, existing processes remain unaffected, and the needs of the users are met."
Example of a cover letter targeted to this job
Dear Hiring Manager, (NOTE: best to find an actual name if you can)
I am very interested in the Senior Business Analyst opening at ABC Company that I saw advertised on Dice.com. I hope you will consider my closely-related experience, as well as my strong interest in ABC Company, which I'll be happy to talk more about when we speak.
As a Business Analyst at XYZ Company, I've worked extensively on their Oracle human resource and financial systems. I think you'll find this experience especially relevant:
- Managed all functional aspects of major system upgrade to Oracle Human Resources legacy system
- Interviewed users and prepared detailed requirements documentation for new payroll system module
- Led user task groups to assure appropriateness and usability of new user interfaces and workflow components
- Worked with users and technical staff to develop test plans prior to major implementations
I have attached (included / pasted) my resume, and would appreciate the chance to explore this opportunity further with you. Please feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 if you have any questions or need additional information.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Some final thoughts
No matter what job you are applying for, the basic targeting technique is to use the job description as the source of skills / experience they are especially interested in. And then, make sure that you highlight at least a few of your corresponding skills /experience on your cover letter, and as much as possible on your resume.
Your goal is to use your targeted cover letter to help them see how well you match their current opening. And even if you have to use transferable skills to make your case, make sure you've done your best to point them to the parts of your work history that matter most to THEM.