Write Your Targeted Cover Letter

Learn how to write a letter that makes you stand out

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Employers often have to look through hundreds of job applications to fill a position. To stand out, you will need to write a targeted cover letter for every job application you submit.

Without a strong cover letter targeted to the specific position, your application will not get a second look. Today, you will learn tips for writing a targeted cover letter and will apply those tips to your job applications.

Send a Cover Letter

Always send a cover letter, even if an employer does not specifically ask for one. A targeted cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and getting overlooked.

Select a Cover Letter Format

Select a straightforward cover letter format. In terms of content, most cover letters should include your contact information, and at least three body paragraphs:

The first paragraph should explain what job you are applying for and how you found the job listing. The second paragraph should explain the skills/experiences you have to offer that relate directly to the job listing. The final paragraph should reiterate your interest in the job and explain how you will follow up.

In terms of presentation, you should use a simple, 12-point font that is easy to read (such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Verdana). Also, leave a space between each paragraph so the page doesn’t look too cluttered. Keep your cover letter to no longer than one page.

Personalize Your Letter

Address the cover letter to the hiring manager. If there is no contact listed on the job application, do your best to find the name of the individual to whom the application will go. Look at the company website or call the company to ask for the name of the hiring manager.

Taking the time to find the name of the individual hiring manager will demonstrate that you are taking a special interest in the position. If you can't locate a contact person, there are other options for addressing your cover letter.

Go Beyond the Resume

Make sure your cover letter does not simply rehash your resume. Your cover letter should expand upon your resume, focusing on your specific skills and experiences that relate to the job.

Find a Match

Go through the job listing, and write down the job requirements. Then, make a list of your skills and experiences that match the requirements. Select two or three of your skills that best fit the job. In the body of your cover letter, explain how each of those skills or experiences qualifies you for the specific job listing.

Include Keywords

Include keywords from the job listing in the cover letter. Select words from the listing that relate to particular skills or other requirements for the job. By embedding them into your cover letter, you will demonstrate, at a glance, that you fit the requirements of the position.


Always thoroughly edit your cover letters for grammatical and spelling errors, and for general clarity. Every letter you send should be clearly written and polished.

Here are a variety of sample cover letters you can use as templates for your own cover letters.