Targeted Cover Letters (Writing Tips and Samples)

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What does it take for your resume and cover letter to make an impact when an employer may have received hundreds of resumes for the position you applied for?

Employers can receive a tremendous number of resumes for every position they advertise. It may seem like an almost impossible task for a company to weed through them to find the best applicants to interview, or for you to be one of the selected candidates.

You can help make their job easier, and move your job application to the top of the pile, by writing a targeted cover letter and closely matching your credentials to the job.

How to Make the Cut

Employers do manage to reduce the pool of cover letters and resumes to a manageable number. How they do it can give you some insight into how to write cover letters that will make the cut. Because, if your cover letter doesn't pass muster, your resume won't even get a look.

If your cover letter and resume aren't perfect, they most likely will end up in the reject pile. And perfect means perfect - there should not be any typos or grammatical errors.

Employers typically won't even consider a candidate that they deem is not qualified at first glance. That first glance at your cover letter is your one opportunity to make a good impression and make it to the next round. 

Targeted Cover Letters Writing Tips

It's certainly easier to write generic or blanket cover letters than it is to write a cover letter specifically targeted to each position you apply for. However, if you don't invest the time in writing cover letters, you're probably not going to get the interview, regardless of your qualifications.

Here Are Suggestions on How to Write a Cover Letter for a Specific Job Opening:

Match Your Qualifications to the Job

This takes some time and effort and it's not always easy, but it's important. Take the job posting and list the criteria the employer is looking for. Then list the skills and experience you have. Either address how your skills match the job requirements in paragraph form or make a comparative list of the criteria and your qualifications.

Sample Job Posting

BOX OFFICE MANAGER. Conduct, oversee subscription and ticket sales for events. Generate and maintain reports, perform accounting activities related to box office revenue, oversee operations. Requires customer service skills and accounting experience.

Cover Letter Example 1: Paragraph

As Box Office Assistant for the Light Opera Company, I was responsible for customer service, ticketing patrons, and generating and maintaining box office reports. In addition, I maintained records and accounting reports for all box office transactions.

Cover Letter Example 2: List

Box Office Manager Requirements:

Conduct, oversee subscription and ticket sales for events

Generate and maintain reports, perform accounting activities

Customer service skills and accounting experience

My Skills and Experience:

  • Box office management including ticketing, maintenance of records and ticket database management
  • Maintain and generate reports
  • Box office accounting transaction and reporting
  • Customer service, seating, and ticketing patrons

As you can see, in both cases, the candidate has written a detailed cover letter that should survive the first screening. In order to pass that screening, you must specifically address the job ad and state why you are qualified for the position.

Given this competitive job market, it is critically important to target your cover letter and your resume. That way the employer knows exactly why you are qualified for the position and why they should consider you for an interview.

Targeted Cover Letter Examples 

Here is an example of a targeted cover letter which takes the position requirements and matches the applicant's skills to those requirements. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

 © The Balance 2018
Download the Word Template

Targeted Cover Letter Examples (Text Version)

Sample #1

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email


City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

I am interested in the Coordinator position advertised on XYZ. My resume is enclosed for your review. Given my related experience and excellent capabilities, I would appreciate your consideration for this job opening. My skills are an ideal match for this position.

Your Requirements:

  • Responsible for evening operations in Student Center and other facilities, including managing registration, solving customer problems, dealing with risk management and emergencies, enforcement of department policies.
  • Assists with hiring, training, and management of staff. Coordinate statistics and inventory.
  • Experience in the supervision of student staff and strong interpersonal skills are also preferred.
  • Valid Minnesota driver's license with a good driving record. Ability to travel to different sites required.
  • Experience in collegiate programming and management.

My Qualifications:

  • Register students for courses, design and manage program software, solve customer problems, enforce department policies, and serve as a contact for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Hiring, training, scheduling, and management of staff, managing supply inventory, and ordering.
  • Minnesota driver's license with NTSA defensive driving certification.
  • Extensive experience in collegiate programming and management.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

I appreciate your taking the time to review my credentials and experience. Again, thank you for your consideration.

Your Signature 
(for hard copy letter)
Your Typed Name

Sample #2

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email


City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

In response to your advertisement in the Milliken Valley Sentinel for Vice President, Operations, please consider the following:

Develop and implement strategic operational plans.
15+ years’ aggressive food company production management experience. Planned, implemented, coordinated, and revised all production operations in a plant of 250+ employees.

Manage people, resources, and processes.
Developed and published weekly processing and packaging schedules to meet annual corporate sales demands of up to $50 million. Met all production requirements and minimized inventory costs.

Coach and develop direct reports.
Designed and presented training programs for corporate, divisional and plant management personnel. Created employee involvement program resulting in $100,000+ savings annually.

Ensure operational service groups meet needs of external and internal customers.
Chaired cross-functional committee of 16 associates that developed and implemented processes, systems, and procedures plant-wide. Achieved year-end results of 12% increase in production, 6% reduction in direct operational costs, and increased customer satisfaction rating from 85% to 93.5%.

I welcome the opportunity to visit with you about this position. My resume has been uploaded, per your instructions. I may be reached at the number above. Thanks again for your consideration.


Your Signature (hard copy letter)

Your Typed Name

What To Do When You're Not a Strong Match for the Job

What do you do if you don't have the right stuff and it's hard to make the case that you should be considered for the job? It's a certainty that the person with ten years of childcare experience, and no computer experience, who applied for an Oracle programmer position won't get an interview. If your qualifications don't come close to matching the criteria for the job, save your time and the company's time and don’t apply. In most cases, there are too many qualified candidates whose cover letter and resume will make the cut.

Instead, focus on applying for jobs you do qualify for and spend some time gaining the additional skills or education (volunteer, take a class, etc.) you need to prepare to apply for positions that are a rung or two up the ladder.