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How to Write a Personalized Cover Letter

Create Your Own Cover Letter Template

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Trevor Williams

I've heard from more than a few hiring managers who wonder if cover letter writing is a lost art. One of them told me that he has received a lot of cover letters that are shorter than tweets including a cover letter that just said "Have a nice day." and another that said "Please view my resume."

Cover letter writing is not supposed to be a lost art. Employers still expect them. Hiring managers at the companies surveyed by Saddleback College which require cover letters (53%) want more than just a basic cover letter.

What Employers Expect in a Cover Letter

  • Tailored skills from the job description - 33%
  • Clarity (specifying job applied to) - 26%
  • Details from resume - 20%
  • Your (personal) value - 19%

As you can see, employers expect personalized cover letters that show them why you are a strong fit for the position and a valuable candidate worth taking the time to interview.

That said, in defense of applicants who are sending cover letters as though they were 140 character tweets, it can be hard to justify taking the time to write a customized cover letter, especially when you don't hear back from employers after sending out, in some cases, hundreds of cover letters and resumes.

It's tough when you put effort into applying - over and over again - and your applications get lost in the "black hole" of the Internet.

Required Cover Letters

The bottom line though is that if an employer requests a cover letter, you need to send one - a real cover letter, not a sentence or two. It's in your best interest to send one even if it's not a requirement.

Create a Cover Letter Template

One way to make cover letter writing a little easier is to start with a cover letter template, customize it to include some basic information about your skills and experience. Save your cover letter as a Word document with a file name that's easy to recognize i.e. coverlettertemplate.doc.

Personalize Your Cover Letter

Each time you apply for a job, open your cover letter template document and create a new version of your cover letter. Personalize what is now your cover letter template to fit the job requirements of the positions you apply to.

Edit the contact information section to include the information for the new employer. Edit the salutation with the new hiring manager's name, if you have it. Edit the first paragraph of your letter to reflect the job you're applying to and where you found the posting.

Personalize the body of the cover letter and relate your skills to the job description. Your final paragraph, closing and signature won't need to be changed.

Be sure to save your cover letter with a new file name (File Save As) so you have a copy of each cover letter you send to employers.

Tweaking is easier than starting from scratch and it won't take long to write a tailored cover letter and you'll make a much better impression than if you simply say here is my resume.

Review Cover Letter Samples

If you're not sure what to write, review cover letter samples to get ideas for writing cover letters that make the best impression.

Proofread Your Letters

Be sure to careful proofread your cover letters. A typo or grammatical error can cost you an interview. Here are proofreading tips for job seekers.

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