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Blogs Home >> >> 'Ensure Your Cover Letter Hits the Target'
Ensure Your Cover Letter Hits the Target

Back when public education was a more viable and desirable career path, a school district administrator in a large Pacific Northwest city received a cover letter that said "Please send me an application to teach anything." What? Such a letter not only reflects a personís lack of focus, but also hints to a degree (maybe a large degree) of laziness on the part of the jobseeker.

When writing a cover letter, remember that you are dealing with a human being, as well as an organization or institution that already has a very specific idea as to what its needs are. It is your mission to zero in on that need, and address it in your cover letter.

In these times of surplus labor, there is no shortage of websites, books, and other publications providing "Do-It-Yourself" cover letter examples and templates. Now, while examining these can be educational, actually using a generic cover letter template is a bad idea - for several reasons.

First, a cover letter is about you. A Hollywood acting instructor might tell his students seeking film roles: "Nobody can play you better than you." The same can be said for writing. Nobody can write with your unique voice ó and during times in which you are but one of an army of jobseekers, uniqueness is an asset you cannot be without.

Secondly, a cover letter needs to address particulars, i.e. a specific organization and especially a specific position. Obviously, the people who come up with sample cover letters and templates have no way of knowing what you are applying for or to which organization youíre applying. Furthermore, believe it or not, organizations (particularly for-profit corporations) have egos. The human who actually represents the company wants to know that the applicant:

(A) Took the time and effort to learn something about the company

(B) Actually cared enough to find out what the job was and what the position entailed

(C) Showed drive and initiative by writing their own cover letter, instead of recycling something from a book.

There's a practical aspect to this as well. Each job requires specific skills, training and credentials. Writing a cover letter for "just anything" (as in the example above) strongly suggests that the writer lacks the necessary pre-requisites for the particular job.

So, when it comes to cover letters, your best bet for success is to read and learn how to write them, and then write your own letter for each position you apply to.

More information on writing cover letters can be found throughout this blog and website. Visit for sample cover letters.

Posted on Wednesday, Dec 28, 2011 13:44:55 EST by trose

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