Besides the must-knows, like what should be in one or where they should be sent, a burning question most job seekers have is whether or not they need a unique cover letter for each job they apply to.
The simple answer is “yes” and here’s why:
The Purpose of a Cover Letter
Writing a professional resume is an exercise in cataloging your experiences and accomplishments, but it’s more than that. You’re trying to tell a story about how well you do your job and how your skills will translate to another position.
In this short document, you can highlight experiences, relate illustrative stories and set a tone for the resume that follows. This is a sink-or-swim sort of situation, which is why you absolutely should write a new cover letter for each potential job. Since no two jobs are alike, the information you provide will need to change with each iteration as you put the spotlight on different skills and experiences.
Give Your Cover Letter Some Jet Fuel
There are plenty of pieces of advice out there for writing your cover letter, but if I could offer only one, it would be to get to know each company and the job you’re seeking well before you begin. You can learn a surprisingly lot from the Internet about any given business, as well as particular job titles. But the most useful place to start is the ad itself.
A job ad tells you a lot of things, even if you don’t realize it. Every job ad includes a detailed list of qualifications for the job being advertised.
Pay Attention To What The Employer Wants
That list is key — that’s where you need to start your cover letter. Run down every major point and make sure to address it in your letter. If an employer is looking for someone with lots of managerial experience, discuss your accomplishments as a mid-level manager at your current company. If you have no relevant work experience, don’t sweat it — you can instead highlight your recent leadership experience in school or during extracurriculars, for example.
Although it can take some time to compile a cover letter for each company, that time is an investment in your future.