Generic cover letters are a thing of the past. Writing a cover letter is not a hard thing to do. In order for a cover letter to be effective, it should be concise, scannable, and easy on the eye. Three to four paragraphs should be enough.
Avoid submitting generic cover letters when replying to a job ad. In order to do this, you should be able to address each of the job requirements. You should be able to compare how your professional experience relates to each job requirement. When it comes to submitting applicant-initiated applications, another tip to avoid writing generic cover letters is that you should do prior research on the company you are applying for. Your application letter should let the reader know you are interested in applying and why your background is the perfect fit for the company.
Unfortunately, this is something that rarely happens. What usually happens is this: a job applicant searches newspaper ads to look for job posts that will interest him. He takes note of the job posts. He writes generic cover letters, puts them in their respective envelopes, and mails them together with his resume. He pats himself for a job well done.
Unfortunately, even though he has sent out hundreds of cover letters and resumes, nobody replies back to him. The applicant wonders why. He could chalk it up to experience and start all over again. But this time, he tries a different approach. The applicant takes control of his job hunting process, in search for the dream job.
He takes stock of his previous work experiences, and finds out where he excels and where he flounders. He gives careful thought to his strengths and weaknesses and uses them in crafting his application documents, unlike the generic cover letters he has submitted before. He thinks about his past job descriptions and why he left those. These things give him a clue to what was missing in his previously written cover letters. More importantly, it gives him an idea as to what motivates him. He discovers who he is, and what kind of working environment he would enjoy the most and become productive. He finally discovers who he is and what he wants, and he ponders what on earth he was thinking when he sent all those generic cover letters and uninspired resumes. He finally realizes what he is looking for after countless applications.
How to avoid writing generic cover letters
Perhaps you are very much like this applicant, and you can relate with what he is going through. If you are in a similar boat with him, you should begin your search by looking for companies that fit your profile as well as your personality. Not all companies will place ad jobs; some would seek the right candidates in a confidential manner. You will realize right away that your generic cover letters would simply not suffice. Before you start to apply, you need to sit down and make an effort to improve on your cover letters. You need to write two kinds of cover letters, taking the time to personalize each one. One is for companies that are actively looking for candidates through their job posts. The other one is for companies that you have researched and found interesting.
In the first line, you can say why you are writing to a particular company. Generic cover letters would begin by saying, “This is in response to…” Instead, you should write something like this, “I am responding to your job post because…” For the cold applications you are sending, you may say something like this, “I am sending you my resume because I feel that I could be an asset to you company.” Put the emphasis on what you can do for the company, and not the other way around.
In the second paragraph of your application, you will avoid falling into the trap of generic cover letters through personalization. Three to four sentences should do it. This part will have to be sincere, but not overly dramatic. This part will explain why you are writing to this company in particular, and what you have to offer them. If there was something about the post that spoke and appealed to you, mention it. By doing so, you are more conscious and you get to avoid writing generic cover letters.
The third paragraph is the conclusion. Inform the recipient that you will be following up on a certain date regarding the status of your application. By doing so, you are showing your eagerness and enthusiasm for the job at hand. The end product is worlds away from the generic cover letters you wrote in the past.
These cover letters can be easily spotted away by recruiters. These kinds of letters don’t usually get a call back. Instead of writing them, a personalized cover letter will get you far along the job application process. Mentioning the recruiter’s name in the letter is another way to show recruitment that yours isn’t one of the letters they receive by the bulk.
Choosing to write personalized cover letters over generic cover letters increases your chances of getting noticed.