A targeted job search is more effective than a scattershot job search. Targeted means you apply for jobs for which you have the right skills, abilities and desire.

If you’re right for a lot of jobs, you must show the prospective employer that you care about THEIR job.

Here’s how:   tailor the cover letter to each one.

  1. Make the match for them between your skills and their needs
  2. Express enthusiasm for their business, product and/or mission.
  3. Use the company name at least 3 times – beginning, middle and end – in a logical context.  Example: “I will bring my experience in ______ to Company in this way…”
  4. Use the position name at least 3 times – beginning, middle and end – again in context. Example: “As Position, I will produce [specific impact]…”
  5. Use language from the job description to show you read it, and you “speak their language.”
  6. Address the letter to the company, and to a specific person if possible. Use the email address. Say “Dear Hiring Manager” if you don’t have a name.

Every recruiter and employer I’ve talked to or blog I’ve read emphasizes that tailored, specific cover letters stand out. Generic, fill-in-the-blanks cover letters also stand out in a bad way and are immediately rejected.

Sure, it takes time to do this. It’s well worth the time – for you as well as the employer.

As you write the cover letter, you will come face to face with whether you really want the job or not. If you do, that will come across in the letter, and vice versa. And if you don’t really want the job, why apply? Focus your energy on those jobs you have genuine interest in. At very least, genuine interest in learning more about it!