July 9, 2004, Newsletter Issue #25: p1: Generic Cover Letters

Tip of the Week

Youíve decided you donít like your current job and itís time to find a new one - or maybe you were laid off and didnít have much choice in the matter - so now youíre poring through ads and getting ready to send off resumes.

What do you do about the cover letter? Whatís YOUR approach to the cover letter issue? And how sure are you that your way of dealing with cover letters keeps you in total control of your career?

Few job seekers realize how greatly their cover letter impacts whether or not they are contacted for an interview. A cover letter is NOT just something that you slap together to send with your resume. Itís actually read Ė and it frequently determines how closely your resume is viewed Ė or if it is viewed at all.

Use the list below to make sure your cover letter is helping to keep you in control of your career. Following these points will ensure your letter represents you well and to the best of your ability. Leave the mistakes to the other candidates competing for the same job Ė the ones who take the easy way out.

They may seem like the easy way out, but what you save in time and effort, you lose in end results. And isnít the point of sending out a resume and a cover letter to be contacted for an interview? If youíve taken a shortcut because customizing your letters is too difficult, youíll know it when your phone doesnít ring.

It might be easy to rationalize why a generic cover letter is acceptable. Perhaps you are a poor writer. Writing ONE cover letter is an afternoonís process, never mind ten or twelve. And so you proceed to alter nothing but the company name and address.

These generic cover letters can be detected at 20 paces, I assure you, and they arenít impressive, no matter how well written they are. While you can repeat some text parts, each letter needs to be customized with information specific to that company, what they are looking for, and how you fill the bill.

When you are applying for jobs, you are selling a product and the product is YOU. To be noticed, you need to stand out from the others in the pile. This means:

-- repeating the words in the ad and relating them to your experience.
-- doing research on the company.
-- taking time to find out to whom your cover letter should be addressed, if itís not a blind ad.
-- modifying the reasons you are applying for THIS job as opposed to THAT job

Next week: more points for your cover letter checklist

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