Targeted Cover Letters (and Resumes)

Not too long ago, Start.ca held a community partners breakfast at their new office at 700 York Street here in London ON. A couple of Talent Acquisition Professionals there mentioned their preferred method of applying for jobs. I noticed that what Start.ca wants is what job seekers could be doing to benefit the active job search. One point that has stood out is the company’s preference for a targeted cover letter and resume. Your first question might be, “How can a company tell if my application is customized to its role and culture?” Well, it is actually quite easy for an employer to tell if your application to their company is just one of fifty that you blasted out on any given day.

Put yourself in HR’s shoes. You have to get through 200 resumes by the end of the week and decide on the top 5 candidates. They might have 10 seconds to review your resume. After all, these are human beings, too, and they get bored reading the same things over and over again. It is a good idea to find ways to set yourself apart, to make your application interesting. There are so many ways to do this, including your tone, style, word choice and content.

Recently, career development professionals have noticed a striking trend in the contemporary active job search: submitting numerous identical cover letters and resumes with a change in company name and position title will not be a very effective strategy. In fact, it can end up exhausting the job seeker, taking away morale and momentum and replacing it with doubt and frustration. There are ways to customize your applications, but they do take an investment of time. It could take 1-2 hours to complete each new application but the return on that investment will far outweigh the time it takes to create the applications. As a job seeker, it is important to switch up routines and try new things, focusing on curiousity and where things could take you rather than fixating on a definite outcome.

See below for a tool that can help you customize your job applications. It will take time and energy, but your applications will come across to employers much stronger than the blanket application approach. Like any tool, it will not be useful on its own. It is all in how you use the tool that produces results.

In the left column, you will find the duties, tasks and skills of the job. On the right, you will find a place to list your skills, knowledge, and specific experiences. The middle column can be used to put both columns together in a statement to show exactly what you can offer the company. In doing so, you will need to work on ways to connect your ideas because listing a bunch of unrelated points will not sound very good. These can be very simple, like a transition word or phrase but it is important that you also take the time to put your ideas together in a clear, straight-forward, and relevant way. On the second page, you can copy and paste the job ad as that will be the best place to get all the information you will need to complete the application.

Targeting Your Job Applications

 

 

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