A customized cover letter is the only tool available for the hiring manager reviewing applicants to specifically link the requirements in the job description to the experience in the resume. Overlooking the cover letter in the job search process is a risky move since it is your best sales tool. If the job is worth applying to, it is worth writing a customized cover letter.
At Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business MBA Career Center, we work closely with our students to help them learn to write effective, customized cover letters. An effective cover letter identifies your transferable skills and addresses how you will meet the needs of the employer. Don’t assume that they can connect the dots between their needs and your experience. Clearly show them what you bring to the table for this position.
Students prepare practice cover letters and receive feedback from their advisors. They also prepare cover letters for their mock interviews and receive additional feedback from their mock interviewers. A generic or template cover letter will not effectively address the specific needs of the employer and should never be used. Highlighting the key requirements in the job description and the relevant skills on your resume can visually identify the areas of focus for your customized cover letter.
For the hiring manager, the cover letter also acts as a writing sample. Be sure you have no grammatical or spelling errors. Be sure you have the name of the company and the position listed correctly. Demonstrate your professional communication skills by delivering a targeted, customized, professional cover letter.
A cover letter will not likely land you the job but it can definitely get you an interview which is the goal. Get the interview so you have an opportunity to sell yourself.