Having a generic cover letter prepared to accompany your resume is always a good idea. However, you should always take care to personalize your cover letter to suit the requirements of each new job opportunity that you are applying for.
Why would I need a generic Cover Letter?
Sometimes you may see a recruiter advertising for job applicants to apply in writing without actually sending in their resume. This can happen when a new company is looking to mass-recruit a high number of people so to save time they will ask for a cover letter in the first instance. The recruiter may ask you to answer one or two relevant questions within your cover letter, then make a shortlist of possible candidates from those submissions. Then those selected will be asked to submit their resume to be considered for interview.
For the most part, using a generic cover letter without any personalisation to suit an individual recruiter would be used when you are attending job fairs. You would take along copies of your cover letter and resume to hand out to a number of potential recruiters from different companies appearing at the jobs fair.
Another situation for requiring a generic cover letter over a personalized letter would be for general posting of your resume and cover letter to employment agencies that can help you to find a job, online employment websites and job boards such as Monster, Indeed etc. as well as your social media accounts, such as LinkedIn for example.
Adapting your Cover Letter
Having a generic cover letter template to work from can be a real time-saver. You will not have to spend your precious time typing out a fresh cover letter for each and every job that you apply for. You can simply have a basic general letter set up that you can tweak and adapt to suit your needs each time you need to produce one to go with your resume.
When responding to a direct job advert, whether that be through a newspaper ad, online job vacancy posting or through an employment agency recruiting on behalf of a specific company, you can take your basic cover letter template and adapt the information to show how you perfectly fit the company requirements for the job.
But what exactly do I include on my cover letter?
First of all, you start with a customary greeting. Generic greeting to use for your cover letter can include the following examples:
- Dear Employer
- Dear Sir or Madam
- To Whom it May Concern
Any of the above three greetings are perfectly fine for your opening line, but some jobseekers will choose to write ‘ Dear Hiring Manager’ instead. This is fine but could be an issue if the person reading your letter isn’t actually the hiring manager. It would be much more polite to simply address them using a more general term, such as in the examples given above.
Your letter should also include all of your contact information within the first section to make it easy for the recruiter to find your address details and phone number.
The main body of your generic cover letter
Once you have written your greeting and listed your contact information, you can then work on what to include within the main body of your cover letter. You will need to make an impact here to keep your readers attention and to avoid having them drift off or lose interest in you.
The main body of your letter should highlight your special skills, knowledge and work experience you have that can make you stand out from the crowd. You could also include here some details about any special achievements you have accomplished or awards you have won through your employment that you are particularly proud of.
Next you could go on to mention any relevant educational qualifications you have that can back up your knowledge and expertise in your field of employment if you feel this is necessary. This would be a good idea for a recent graduate to include that may lack any significant years of experience in a particular role. This will show a potential recruiter that you have achieved a level of education that allows you to carry out all the work-related tasks that your would be given. Your knowledge and experience will show what an asset you could be to any future employer.
Remember that your cover letter can act as a snapshot of your achievements so far. Your resume has the job of giving your recruiter a more in-depth look at your past education, further education and training courses completed as well as other work-related experience, but your cover letter is there to introduce yourself and deliver a positive overview of why you should be considered for interview.
Stick to writing facts about yourself that are relevant for job seeking only. You can leave out other facts such as hobbies, interests, sports etc. Recruiting officers are busy people and would not be interested to read that you currently hold a world record in gum chewing, or that you collect Star Wars memorabilia.
What should my Generic Cover Letter look like?
For your information, here is a good example of how a generic cover letter should be laid out:
Your City, State (County), Zip Code (Post Code)
Your Phone Number(s)
Your Email Address
Dear Sir or Madam,
I have over three years’ experience in the Quality Assurance Industry, and I believe the knowledge and skills built up during this time make me the perfect candidate for a role within your company.
In my current role as a Senior Executive Assistant at X company Ltd, I have been personally responsible for increasing our incoming client bookings for our services by 150% in just over 9 months, which helped the business to greatly increase its turnover. This resulted in me being awarded with an industry achievement award in X.
My skills include, but are no limited to:
- Excellent time-management skills using careful planning and organization of work activities
- An aptitude for identifying and resolving problems quickly and efficiently
- Excellent communication skills
- Producing accurate work of a high standard
- An openness to learning and applying new information
- Strong computer skills with proficiency in MS Office and other leading software packages
I am confident that I can bring this level of knowledge and experience with me to enhance your company’s success and help to build upon your reputation as a recognised professional company within your sector. With my previous experience and expertise, I believe I can hit the ground running and start actively contributing to the business as soon as possible.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.
What to focus on
The above example cover letter perfectly shows off a candidates transferable skills that can be carried over to a job no matter what that company is involved in. These are core skills that you can adapt to suit just about any role across a wide range of different companies.
Listing your strengths and your core competencies is what you will be hooking the recruiter in with, so remember to use certain phrases that best describe your skills in a generic cover letter. Mention that you are highly motivated, reliable, a good problem solver, able to work independently as well as part of a team. Say that you have good organizational skills if it is true, especially where time-management is an important part of the role.