Cover Letters: Keep It Personalized

Updated on January 24, 2018
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Nilza holds her M.Ed in Counselor Education of Student Affairs and is a certified Career Development Facilitator.

Personalizing Cover Letters

When applying for jobs it is not uncommon to encounter applications that request a cover letter. Many job applicants find the task of writing a cover letter daunting and make the mistake of utilizing a standardized cover letter for all their applications. Though a standard cover letter may not disqualify you from being considered, it is a missed opportunity to stand out in the applicant pool. When it comes to cover letters, keep it personalized to the job/company you are applying for.

Personalizing a cover letter does not mean you have to write a completely different letter for every job you apply for. However, it does mean you should be tweaking each letter towards the company you are applying for, ensuring your content connects to the position you are seeking. Here are simple ways to personalize your cover letter so that it can stand out.

The Introduction- Name Drop

The first sentences of your cover letter should include the name of the company, the name of the position you are applying for, and how you came upon the position, especially if an individual is referring you.

For example:

Dear (name of employer or individual),

I am writing to express interest in the open (name of position) (John Doe) informed me of, and encouraged me to apply for.

This introduction is crucial if you are applying for a position an individual has directly referred you to, as it informs the individual hiring that you have a shared contact. If you are a “cold” applicant, or an individual with no connections to the employer, this step is still helpful as it reiterates what you are specifically applying for. As a cold applicant, it is likely your resume and cover letter will pass by multiple eyes, so having an introduction that states what you are applying for can be a good refresher to the individual reading. This is especially helpful to recruiters who are hiring for multiple positions and reviewing many documents.

Make a Connection

Within the first paragraph, after the introduction, connect to the employer through the mission, vision, or accomplishments of the organization. By doing so, you show that you have taken the time to learn about the company, and you are not blindly applying. This step reflects you are highly interested in the specific position or company and not just applying because it is a job to apply for.

This is also an opportunity to begin to show how what the company is doing connects to your own interests or accomplishments.

Some examples:

“I am captivated by One Earth’s mission to conduct all business operations with sustainability in mind, as I myself desire to live and work in such a way that does not detract from the environment.”

“Made-up University’s rank as the 4th most innovative institution in the United States attracts me because I myself am a pioneer who has been recognized by made-up organization for my groundbreaking research on something important.”

Make the connecting statement genuine; it is not intended to “suck-up” to the company. You are trying to show that you are someone who could work with this company because you truly associate yourself with what they are doing.

Show Off Your Skills

Your cover letter is not meant to repeat your resume; it is a tool to expand upon the skills you detailed within the resume. After your introduction paragraph, the next paragraph, or two, should focus on reflecting skills the employer is seeking. Though many jobs you apply for will look for similar skills, you should review the language in the hiring post you are applying for to ensure you have identified what is important to the employer.

For example, if you are hiring for a managerial position that wants a candidate with strong interpersonal skills, you should be writing points within your letter that describe some of the interpersonal skills you possess. This could include a sentence about how you manage effective communication with a team of employees by maintaining one on one interactions and meetings to ensure they each receive your individual attention. Whereas your resume is a quick highlight of your skills, the cover letter picks a few of your best skills and expands on your strength and mastery of them. By focusing on the skills the employer has outlined in their posting, you are showing yourself to be an ideal candidate.

Good Luck!

Cover letter writing has no exact formula, but the three techniques mentioned in this article are meant to make you stand out as a candidate. As you apply for jobs that request a cover letter, tap mentors or colleagues in the field or industry you are applying for who will assist you in editing your letters. Best of luck to you in your job search.

Questions & Answers


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      • nilzamarie profile image

        Nilza 2 months ago from Los Angeles, California

        Thanks for reading! Glad you found this usefull.

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 2 months ago from Norfolk, England

        That was really useful to read. Writing cover letters can be difficult sometimes, especially when you have to try and sell yourself and your skills.