Submitting the same cover letter to every job you apply for is no longer acceptable. Unique cover letters are a great way to show companies that you care, but they can also cost you tons of time, which is not ideal if you’re applying for a multiple jobs at once. Luckily, there are a few tricks that’ll save you time when you’re on the hunt for a new job, without sacrificing the quality of your cover letter.
Create An Outline
First off, you should have a basic formula in mind that you can use for all of your cover letters. You shouldn’t be submitting the exact same cover letter everywhere you go, but once you pen one that impresses an employer, keep it and edit it with each subsequent application.
There are some details that can make appearances in all of your cover letters as long as you’re applying for similar jobs. For instance, once you figure out the perfect eye-catching opener that seems to be getting you quick responses, make it a staple in the formula that you use to apply to all jobs of a similar type.
You can also keep whole phrases intact and edit them to fit the specifics for each job – “My talents for [skill] and [skill] first intertwined when [success at prior job]”. Have prepared phrases like this that you found have caught the attention of hiring managers before and edit or remove them when needed.
Document Your Skills
Think about the skills you possess that are most common to the jobs you’re applying for, and spend some of your spare time coming up with lines that showcase your successes in these areas. Have a document with these lines at the ready when you’re applying for jobs so that you can mix and match which ones match the posting. You won’t need to sit and fret over how to prove you’d be the ideal social media manager when you can simply flip over to this document to copy the pre-written “At XYZ Company, my paid advertising campaign led to a 56% growth in followers and a 35% increase in website traffic” and paste it into your new cover letter.
Consider the Job Posting
Obviously, you should be taking the skills listed on the job posting into consideration anyway, but have you thought about incorporating the phrasing into your cover letter? Not exact word-for-word copies, and don’t take every little detail out of the posting for your cover letter – that’s overdoing it. But, if one of the job requirements is “attention to detail”, include something along the lines of “I showcased my attention to detail while [success at prior job]”.
Using the company’s own words shows the hiring manager that you paid close attention to their posting and that the letter is tailored specifically for them. It’s also the perfect way to drive home the fact that you’re the employee they’ve been looking for – if you’re able to pull right from the job posting to speak to your own skills, it’s a subtle way of saying that you’re the ideal hire. And, of course, on top of this, it saves you the time of stressing over your own phrasing and which particular career highlights to mention.
Cover letters can be tricky to perfect, but once you’ve found a formula that works, there’s no need to let go of it just because it was customized for one specific job. Keep every line you’ve liked, every letter that’s won you an interview, and hold onto them for the next application – they worked for a reason.
Still unsure about your cover letter formula? Style Nine to Five’s Founder, Christie Lohr, offers a Cover Letter Refresh that will help get you hired!
Emily Morrison is a freelance writer and media professional with passions for film and storytelling.