How to Write A Winning, Employer-Focused Cover Letter
I’ll answer the classic burning question upfront.
“Do I really need a different cover letter for every application?”
Yes. Yes you do.
Applying to 15 jobs in an afternoon sounds productive, but if you’re attaching the same generic cover letter to get there (or worse yet, leaving it off) you’re spinning your wheels. Companies want to hire people who want to be there. A generic or absent cover letter sends a strong signal – I’m not interested enough to go the extra mile.
Here’s the thing about cover letters. They’re not about you. They’re about what you can do for your future employer. This means that customization is (sadly) not optional.
I’ve written before about the power of flipping the script— don’t sell yourself, sell how you’ll serve the organization. Sell your results.
Luckily, you can create a cover letter template that’s quickly customized, and won’t look at all like a copy/paste job. Here’s the formula:
OK. The beginning should be different for each employer, but you may find a lot of overlap if you’re applying to similar roles. Write a few lines about what you can a do for the company — make a specific offer if at all possible. Give a few compelling reasons why they want to hire you for this specific role (not why you want the job!)
Next, highlight a few skills and accomplishments that back up your claims in the first paragraph.
- You can even do this in a bullet point format.
- I recommend generating a list of your top 7-10 skills.
- But only use the most relevant 3-5 in your cover letter!
Finally, close it out with a clear call-to-action. “I look forward to discussing in-depth how I can help [Company Name] achieve [your value-add]. Please email or call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx to schedule an interview.
Sincerely, Your Name
This formula works because it’s short, readable (the bullet points help with this), and laser-focused on what you’re offering. Resist the urge to talk about your background at length — if it doesn’t directly relate to the task at hand (Getting customers? Optimizing for efficiency?) it’s better left out.
You can get up-close and personal when you land the interview. And remember, the best way to get there is through a personal connection. Try searching on BrightCrowd to see if there’s someone who can get your cover letter on the right desk.