How to Write a Targeted Cover Letter for Job Applications

Your cover letter is often the first impression a potential employer will have of you. While your resume summarizes your skills and experience, the cover letter is your chance to explain why you’re an excellent fit for the specific role. Follow these tips to craft a tailored, engaging cover letter.

How to Write a Targeted Cover Letter for Job Applications

Research the Company Thoroughly

Before writing your cover letter, learn as much as you can about the company and role. Review the job description closely, and visit the company website to understand their products/services, values, culture and needs for this position. 

Check sources like LinkedIn and industry news sites to gain additional insights on the company's challenges, growth plans and recent initiatives. This will help you tailor the letter.

Highlight Relevant Skills and Achievements

Carefully read the job description and note any essential hard and soft skills, certifications, and experience they require. Include one or two examples demonstrating when you’ve used these sought-after abilities successfully. Quantify your achievements with stats/data.

For instance, “My 5 years of experience managing supply chains for a manufacturing company enabled me to reduce costs by 15% and improve order fulfillment rates by 30%.”

Emphasize What You Can Do for the Company

Rather than focusing on what you want from the job, concentrate on how you can help the company meet its goals. Research indicates hiring managers prefer this approach.

For example, “I’m excited by the chance to help XYZ Company expand its customer base among tech firms. My decade of sales experience securing deals with small to mid-sized software companies would enable me to quickly contribute to growth in this market.”

Match Your Personality and Values

Today’s top employers look for candidates that fit their culture and bring the right attitude and outlook. 

Showcase how your work ethic, style and values align with the company’s culture and needs by pointing to relevant examples, like how you worked on cross-functional teams or launched a community initiative.

Use Specific Names When Possible

Personalizing your letter with actual names rather than “hiring manager” makes a stronger connection. Find the name of the hiring manager or recruiter for the role on LinkedIn whenever possible.

Address them appropriately with a greeting like “Dear Mr. Jones” and mention them in the opening paragraph. This catches attention quickly.

Keep It Concise and Scannable

Busy recruiters may only have 1-2 minutes to review your letter initially. Craft a focused, swimmable letter using bullet points, headings and bold fonts to highlight key info. One page is ideal length.

Use clear section headings like “Relevant Skills” and “Cultural Fit” to enable quick scanning for what they’re looking for.

Use a Professional Tone

While you want to stand out, maintain a courteous tone and **avoid overusing superlatives** like “amazing” and “incredible” when describing yourself or the role. You want to come across as confident but not overzealous.

Present your qualifications and interest in factual terms, and allow the examples of achievements to convey your strengths.

Check for Typos and Errors

Nothing hurts your chances faster than obvious grammar and spelling mistakes, which suggest you lack attention to detail. Double check for typos, and have someone else proofread before sending your letter. Read it aloud to catch awkward phrasing.

Correct any formatting inconsistencies and ensure fonts, margins and line spacing give it a professional, neat appearance. 

Show Interest and Enthusiasm

Hiring managers want people passionate about the company and opportunity. Conclude your letter by reiterating your strong interest in bringing your skills and experience to their team. 

Say you look forward to discussing the role in an interview. Include your contact details and thank them for their time and consideration.

Customize For Each Application

Never use the exact same cover letter for different job applications. While you can reuse boilerplate language, ensure at least the intro and conclusion paragraphs are customized with details specific to each company and position.

Update the letter any time you apply for a similar role to incorporate your latest achievements and interests.

Send a PDF Version

Convert your cover letter to a PDF before sending to ensure consistent formatting across devices. Many companies use applicant tracking systems that can garble Word documents.

Name the PDF file clearly, like “FirstName_LastName_CoverLetter.pdf” and attach it or paste into the application form/email. This keeps all your info neatly together.

By taking time to write a thoughtful, tailored cover letter demonstrating your fit and passion for the company and position, you can stand out from other applicants. Distinguish yourself with an engaging opener, concrete examples of your achievements, and sincere interest.

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