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Cover Letter Writing for People Who Hate Cover Letter Writing

Okay, I get it. You’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into writing your résumé and now your miffed that this assignment is not quite finished. You understand the rationale of writing custom cover letters, the kinds that are specific to each employer’s business or industry, but you just don’t have the time, or patience, for that kind of activity. If you’re one of those people who hate to write cover letters, but recognize the value of highly targeted ones, I’ve got a shortcut for you.

To create a reusable, but highly customized cover letter, you will need to conduct a tightly targeted job search–one that is focused on a single occupation and a single industry or type of employer. An example would be that you are a sales professional and you want to get a position in pharmaceutical sales. Take note that the job is specific, “sales professional” and so is the industry, “pharmaceuticals.”

Start by writing a short introductory paragraph that tells the employer that you’re a __________ (sales pro…human resource specialist…financial analyst…production manager…) and that you are specifically pursuing work in the ___________ industry because ….(it’s always been of interest you…or some other plausible reason).

Now, write one or two paragraphs about your skills and abilities. Make that information specific to the job. For example, if you’re a bookkeeper don’t tell me about your communication skills and that you’re a hard worker, I expect that from all professionals. Instead, write about your facility with QuickBooks software, because that’s really what I need you to be good at. These paragraphs will form the core cover letter message and will be recycled, without modification, in each and every letter you send to the companies in your targeted industry.

Next, you will write a unique paragraph customized to each company or organization you are targeting. I recommend this paragraph be placed as either paragraph two, or the paragraph directly before the closing paragraph. Show the employer that you know what products or services they provide and share why those things interest you. Here are two ideas for the segue to start that paragraph:

I am aware of [insert name of company here with apostrophe ‘s’] reputation in the industry and I have already learned some basic information about your products. [Continue on to share information about their products or services.]

Or

I am selectively pursuing new career opportunities and [insert name of company] caught my eye because of my interest in the __________________industry. [Continue on about the industry to complete the paragraph]
End your cover letter with a short paragraph requesting an interview as well as an appropriate thank you. See the section: Anatomy of a Cover Letter for additional guidance on the cover letter’s closing words.

The customization of a single paragraph in your cover letter will make it more relevant and impressive to the employer. Yet, the reusable paragraphs that flank it will make your job-search workload much more manageable.

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