Referencing various cover letter samples as you write your own is a good idea, but don’t treat your very important cover letter like a fill-in-the-blank template. Every job candidate has different areas of experience, skills, and accomplishments, and every job opening has particular requirements. If you’re using the same letter every time, you’re missing the opportunity to mirror the potential employer’s specific requirements and describe yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Know who you’re writing to
When you get mail addressed to “occupant” or “current resident,” does it strike you as important or part of a mass mailing? If you use a generic salutation like “To Whom it May Concern,” in your cover letter, the reader may feel like the recipient of a mass mailing. Since the purpose of the entire exercise is to stand out as an individual, do your homework. You should be able to find a name or, at least, the title of the person to whom you’re writing. You can always call and ask to whose attention your letter should be addressed.
There are three parts to a targeted cover letter
Most cover letter samples agree on the three-part structure.
Introduce yourself in the first paragraph. Mention how you know about the job opening and briefly identify how your experience matches the job requirements. If you’ve done your research on the company, you might mention something positive that draws you to work there.
Use the next paragraph to expand on your accomplishments, and when describing your skills and experience, use the job requirements as a guide to what the hiring manager deems important. Be specific.
As you wrap up your letter, reiterate your enthusiasm for the position and be sure to mention your availability for an interview. Include your contact information. And always say thank you.
Make sure you pass through the company’s applicant tracking system
Many companies use applicant tracking systems that scan and parse incoming cover letters and resumes for keywords and sort them before they get to an actual human being. By using the exact phrases found in the job description to describe your qualifications in both your cover letter and your resume, you’ll probably pass through this automated process.
Most hiring managers have seen enough cover letters to know when they’re looking at a modified cover letter sample with the same tired language and vague statements. The best chance of writing a stand out letter is to take advantage of cover letter samples, but make your letter as individual as you are. You can find the inspiration you need for your cover letter at our Cover Letter Builder.
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