How To Customise Your Cover Letter To Different Organisations
You probably already know the tricks to crafting a winning Cover Letter to make a great impression on hiring managers.
Are you aware that you should customise your cover letter for each position you are applying for and/or each organisation you are trying to get into?
If you thought your CV is the first hurdle to getting your foot in the door, think again.
Even if you have an excellent CV, your chances could be ruined with a shabbily written cover letter.
Read on to find out how you can write a meaningful cover letter customised for a specific job ad.
What is a Cover Letter?
A Cover Letter is an introduction letter or email that is sent together with your Resume in your job application!
If you already know how to write a basic cover letter, here’s the next step: tailoring your cover letter to the organisation and role you’re applying for.
Why should I customise my Cover Letter?
Your cover letter should NOT repeat what is in your CV or resume!
Remember – your CV sums up your career history – it’s a factual document that details work experience, skills and accomplishments.
Your cover letter is the complement to that.
It should be used as a tool to showcase aspects of yourself that cannot be displayed in the bullet style format of the resume, such as your enthusiasm for the role, your best strengths, and even a bit more about yourself on a personal level.
How to customise your Cover Letter:
1) Identify With The Organisation
Do you identify with the organisation you’re applying to?
Working with a company that resonates with your values or career goals is vital if you want to perform well and enjoy your job. Getting to work may already be a struggle for some, so it is worth your while to spend some time finding out what you truly want out of your job, and which organisation aligns with your interests.
Here’s a simple exercise we recommend:
- Draw two columns on a piece of paper and label them “Me” and “Them” respectively.
- Next, write down keywords that describe yourself and what you want from your job. In the “Them” column, write down information about the organisation you are looking at. You can find these from their company website, career portal and job descriptions.
- Lastly, look back at your “Me” list and classify them into career goals, values and personality traits. Link them to similar aspects in the company where possible and you can gauge how well you could fit in the organisation.
2) Understanding The Organisation
After you have selected a few companies, read their job descriptions again and make sure you address each key point in your Cover Letter.
Just like answering questions in an exam, answering key requirements in the description is ideal because you’ll tick off more items on the organisation’s checklist.
How do you tell what these key requirements are?
Job descriptions will often repeat them at least a couple of times, and that’s your clue! Make sure you prioritise addressing these. Inject these keywords into your statements as you go along. Showing research beyond the job description would be a big bonus too.
But avoid exaggerating or writing a lengthy cover letter. Keep it simple.
If you wish to give more relevant examples, you can choose to direct the hiring manager to specific parts of your CV for more factual information.
3) Who Are You Writing To
Imagine you’re the hiring manager. You receive hundreds of cold emails from strangers every day, when all of a sudden, you discover a particular email that actually addressed you personally!
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that that will get you hired, but it will certainly grab the attention of the hiring manager to give your letter a read.
We often think that we’re just writing to the “HR department” or “HR Manager”, and sometimes forget that they are actual people, like us, who would appreciate a personal touch.
An obvious way to find out who you are writing to would be to search online for their contact information. LinkedIn is great for this. Some companies or government websites have the information of their heads of departments online. The Singapore Government Directory is a good way to look for the right department to get in touch with if you are applying for jobs in the civil service.
If you’re being referred to a role by a friend or ex-colleague, it might do you good to mention him or her as a point of reference. But do seek permission from your friend or ex-colleague beforehand, as the hiring manager may approach them to know more about you.
4) Sell Something Unique About Yourself
To be honest, as cliché as it sounds, the only thing that can truly set your application apart is yourself.
What do you have to offer that is so original and outstanding that they just have to hire you?
Think about what your friends, colleagues and previous employers have said about you. Then write them down in succinct sentences that deliver both confidence and clarity. Be direct and talk about why you want the job and how your unique skills can improve the organisation.
If possible, you can even include something personal about yourself that is related to the organisation. For example, if you were applying to Apple, you can mention that you have only used iPhones since iPhone 1 first came out. This piques interest about you as a person but is not entirely irrelevant to your job.
If you have a LinkedIn Profile, you may add a link at the bottom of your cover letter, but do make sure you spend some time updating your LinkedIn profile before you do. Think of it as another source of information for employers to get to know you better, through your career interests, the content that you’ve shared, or industry events you’ve attended.