Targeting a resume and cover letter is probably the most ingenious method developed in the employment world. Not only will the resume impress the employer, but it will also make you appear more suitable for the position. A targeted resume and cover letter typically corresponds your experience, skills and tasks listed under the position’s requirements. Don’t worry about including all past experiences; instead concentrate on the information relevant to the job.
In the cover letter, mention the two or three top work experiences as closely related to the position as possible. For example, if the employer seeks a people person, highlight customer service experience such as retail associate or help desk. If the posting lists computer knowledge as a requirement, discuss your previous experience with computers whether from courses or self-taught. Ensure the content of the cover letter is relevant and significant enough to impress the employer; managers are busy and will not waste time reading unnecessary details.
Target the cover letter ensuring all the position’s requirements are imbedded in the body paragraphs. Employers skimming through the applications most likely will pause to read a cover letter related to the job they are trying to fill. By applying skills to the job requirements, the work has already been completed for the employer; they don’t have to work as hard to determine the most suitable candidate.
Each job application is unique. The content of your resume must be reordered to highlight specific skills to suit the job posting. Use different headings to identify skills/tasks to match requirements listed on the posting. Pay attention to the type of position the company is attempting to fill; corresponding experience should be moved to the top of your resume and organized into subheadings. For example, if you’re applying for a media relations position, list all of the media experiences upfront because this experience will interest the employer. Whether your previous position was paid or voluntary is irrelevant; what matters is experience and the ability to apply acquired skills.
When describing activities from previous work, concentrate on the employer’s requirements and focus on related tasks. For instance, if the position requires the ability to write business plans, describe your experience with developing business plans and how your contribution and unique ideas can help improve the employer’s company. The idea is to clearly demonstrate all your skills as concisely as possible.
I chose a random position from workopolis.com to demonstrate the process of determining how best to choose and highlight relevant skills. I will relate my skills based on the position to clarify the examples. The position I chose was a "Communications Coordinator at Integrated Marketing Support and Services”:
- Experienced in using a variety of Microsoft office-based and Lotus-notes based computer programs
I took a Business Computer Applications class at Langara College that taught me how to use all Microsoft applications. Moreover, I have become comfortable with Adobe programs through my Design, Print Publishing class at SFU which focuses on Adobe InDesign. I have taught myself Photoshop and Illustrator to complete my designs.
- Ability to multi task and work in a fast-paced and constantly changing environment
As a retail associate, I juggled a multitude of tasks simultaneously such as obtaining items of clothing for customers, cleaning, displaying clothing on racks and mannequins.
- Possesses excellent organizational skills and demonstrates attention to detail, including proof reading skills
As the SFU Co-op's Online Community, as Special Projects Assistant, I created articles both independently and from story ideas. An established editorial schedule brought challenges to my work environment, but provided an opportunity to better organize myself. All articles required attention detail and careful editing. It was crucial to capture information correctly or other departments would be unhappy.
Now that your experience is targeted towards the company’s specified skill requirements, compile them into a cohesive cover letter. Decide on two previous experiences to discuss in detail and relate them to the prospective position. Don’t forget to reorder the resume to ensure the employer sees all the important and relevant experiences. Be aggressive, like the bull is to red, when targeting resumes and cover letters – your determination will reflect the job offers you receive.