Adapting Your Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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If you are applying for jobs, sending the same cover letter to every potential employer isn't a good way to improve your chances of getting hired. You should be submitting a customized cover letter for every job opening; otherwise, it's not easy to show hiring managers how your skills and job experience fit the positions they are trying to fill. Follow these cover letter tips to create the perfect customized cover letter every time.

Write an attention-grabbing introduction to make your customized letter stand out from the rest. Don't waste space with a lengthy introduction. Instead, skip right to the main reasons you are an ideal candidate for the job. If you are applying for a managerial position, capture attention by including a quote from one of your subordinates. Copy and paste a quote from your most recent performance review if it is something worth bringing to the recruiter's attention. If a current employee referred you for the position, mention his name in the letter.

Your customized cover letter must include the right keywords, or you risk being screened out of the hiring process by automated software. Keywords are the words and phrases hiring managers use to identify the right candidates. When you write a customized cover letter, pay close attention to the job advertisement. Make sure your letter includes as many of the same phrases as possible. Try using variations of each keyword to improve your chances of making it through an initial screening. If you call yourself a database analyst, but the job advertisement calls for a business analyst, you need to include that term in your customized cover letter.

If possible, address your cover letter to the person doing the recruiting for the position. "Dear Sir or Madam" is acceptable if you absolutely can't find the recruiter's contact information, but it should be your last resort. If the recruiter has a unisex name, such as Jamie Smith, open the letter with "Dear Jamie Smith." Don't hurt your chances of being hired by trying to guess the recruiter's gender.

The body of your customized cover letter should connect the dots for the hiring manager. Take specific phrases from the job description and describe how your skills and work experience relate to those requirements. If the job posting mentions a specific software package, tell the hiring manager how you have used that software in a professional capacity. If good organizational skills are one of the requirements listed in the posting, describe how you have used your organizational skills to benefit past employers.

When you are in the middle of the job-search process, following these cover letter tips can help you land your ideal job. One of the most important things you can do is submit a customized cover letter that shows hiring managers why you are the prime candidate.

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