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Why it’s important to target each resume and cover letter

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: May 1, 2012 at 10:34 am

On average, I see about 20 resumes a day from candidates who want to work for ResumeEdge. As the Managing Editor and hiring manager, I’m tasked with finding the best writers.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a cover letter that stated “Dear Sir”. Considering that the candidate didn’t bother to check out our site or my name, that didn’t bode well.

I’ve had others who used the correct salutation, but after “Dear Darlene” the letter then stated the following:

“I read your ad about the ESL opening, and I want to assure you that as a teacher, I have the credentials and experience you need.”

Please Don’t Apply for This Job Unless You’re Qualified (even remotely)

Given that I hire writers to write resumes, and not teachers to teach English as a second language, I moved on to the next candidate. After all, if this individual didn’t read the cover letter before submitting, or didn’t care enough to personalize the cover letter’s contents to the position I had open, then this person wouldn’t be a good fit in our organization.

And that brings me to a hard truth all job seekers should understand. You have only one chance to wow a hiring manager.

How to Wow a Hiring Manager

1. Use the individual’s name in the cover letter. No ‘Dear Sir’, ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, or ‘To Whom It May Concern’. Find the person’s name. Use it. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Tailor the cover letter to the job being sought. Trust me, if the hiring manager is looking for someone to make widgets and you boast about your ability to made whatnots, you won’t be considered.

3. Tailor the resume not only to the job being sought, but also dovetailing what you’ve done/accomplished to the position’s requirements. In other words, spoon feed your credentials to the hiring manager who most likely is hurried, harried and can’t take the time to shift through your documents to find what s/he needs.

If you don’t follow this advice, if you make it hard on a hiring manager to know what you can do, or if you write one cover letter/resume and shoot it out to everyone hoping for the best, you’re going to be waiting and hoping for a very long time.

  • Rachel

    Hello there,
    First, what a refreshing website. Trying to find a great resource for resume writing is quite difficult.
    I had a question about writing your cover letter to a specific person. I’ve found it can be difficult to pin point who will be reading my resume, especially in larger companies where there are multiple HR employees. Wouldn’t it be worse to write the wrong name than a generic opening?
    If you have any tips on the proper way to figure out who will be reading a cover letter that would be greatly helpful. I do not want to bother them on the phone before they see my resume.
    Thank you so much!

    ANSWER: The best thing to do is to leave off the salutation. After the date, write:

    RE: Administrative Assistant position

    In other words, the name of the position – or –

    Re: Position #5879001

    The number being the posting you’re responding to.

    After that, simply begin your cover letter