Job Specific Cover Letters, part 1

These letters are one of the most important weapons in the job seeker's arsenal, and they need to be very thoroughly understood. Job specific cover letters contain your unique information and important standout material.

Cover letters are short, and every word has to count. You have about 350 words to convince the person reading your application that you're the person for that specific job, and more deserving of an interview than the average of ten other applicants who may get turned down.

We're going to go through the cover letter process step-by-step, to make sure you can write a quality one.

Basic principles of job specific cover letters

  • Job specific cover letters are only supposed to be a page long. A page and a half is OK, if necessary.
  • Think about what you're going to write. Before you start writing your cover letter, have a clear idea of what you need to say. The risk is writing a garbled, routine cover letter that only attracts negative attention.
  • Don't repeat material already in your CV. You must add information.
  • All material in your cover letter must relate to the job. Never go off topic, or refer to any subject not directly related to the position.
  • Check your letter thoroughly. Make sure you feel confident about your information.

What to include in your cover letter

A cover letter is usually a first impression, and adds a lot to your job application. It explains more about you, including your skills, experience, achievements and career goals. This information can be the difference between getting an interview and a long unresponsive silence.

The big must-haves in your letter

  • Information regarding your motivation to apply for the job
  • Evidence of superior skills and qualifications
  • Evidence of added value to the employer
  • Evidence of unique abilities
  • Strong fit to the job criteria

People reading job applications are very limited in their scope. They can only OK people for interviews who are obviously a good match for the position. They have to be able to justify their recommendations. Because the applicants for a job all have similar skills, their CVs are likely to be similar. So the cover letter will be a major distinguishing element between applicants. Nobody writes the same cover letters, and they all have different information.

That's why you need to put a lot of thought and care into writing your letter. It doesn't matter if you're applying for a job with Wal-Mart or with Google; it's the interesting, informative applications that get picked for interviews. When we say you need to target every application, that's particularly true for your cover letters.

Help your application must stand out

  • You must provide information which proves your suitability for the job.
  • Your information and presentation must be high quality.
  • Your letter must read well, and clearly.
  • Your information must target important criteria.

In Part 2, we'll start with a basic entry level cover letter, to show you how to build your application from the ground up. Also read part Part 3 - Applying for a Promotion and Part 4 - Professional Cover Letters