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Customising your Cover Letter to the Job Ad

cover letter tips

For the record, cover letters are still ‘a thing’. Contrary to popular belief, there is still a need or a purpose for an additional letter that accompanies your CV, to inform a prospective employer on more details about who you are, what you do, and why you would be an asset to their company.

When an employer is scanning through your initial letter, they are looking for keywords that match the job description. To get past the screening, make sure to lift some of the language from the description and apply it to your own professional work experience. Look at the skills required and think of a time in your career that you demonstrated it well.

Here’s a closer look at a sample cover letter that’s tailored for the job ad.

Here is the example job ad you might have found on Monster:

Wanted: Outside Sales Rep
Our client, a fast-growing, Singapore-based software company has an opening for an outside sales professional.

● A minimum of 3 years’ outside business-to-business experience selling enterprise software
● The ability to develop a list of prospects, build a pipeline of opportunities and close business
● A proven background working within a quota and exceeding sales targets
● Ability to demonstrate software and manage a complex sales cycle
● Strong verbal and written communication skills
● Availability to travel at least 50%
● Bachelor’s degree preferred

● Competitive base salary plus commission and company car.
● Average first year income $85K+.
● Full benefits
● Quarterly sales contests

If you are a true sales hunter and an energetic self-starter with the desire to be part of a fast-growing software firm, submit your resume and cover letter to Brandon Marks at BMarks@somedomain.com. Reference #28903888.

And here’s how your cover letter should look, based on what the job ad says the company is looking for:

November 20, 2016
Re: Outside Sales Rep Opening (#28903888) advertised on Monster

Dear Mr. Marks,

Your client’s need for a top-performing, results-proven outside sales “hunter” caught my attention – the position is an excellent match to my qualifications.

As an award-winning B2B sales specialist, I offer:

Five years of outside B2B sales experience selling enterprise software solutions. In my current position as an outside sales representative for XYZ Company, I sell their full suite of enterprise software solutions to businesses throughout the northeast territory.
Adept skills in prospecting, pipeline building and closing business. I am one of the top-ranked outside sales professionals within the region (ranked #5) and the only B2B sales professional to earn top 10 placement while launching a new territory. My ability to capitalise on new opportunities and close deals enabled me to build my account portfolio from zero to 257 within one year.
Proven success working within sales quotas, with a history of awarded recognition for delivering excellent revenue results with minimal ramp-up time. I always meet and frequently exceed monthly quotas at XYZ, surpassing goals by as much as 150%.
Expert abilities in demonstrating software and managing complex sales cycles. I am equally successful conducting presentations and demos for technical and nontechnical audiences, with a talent for translating technical concepts into easily understood terms and powerful benefit statements.
Persuasive communication skills, with strengths in responding to RFPs, negotiating deals and articulating the value-added benefits of my represented solutions. I also possess a bachelor’s degree in communications from New York University.
A strong network of business contacts throughout the NY metro region.

Currently a “road warrior” sales rep, I am comfortable and experienced with extensive travel. I would welcome the chance to discuss this opening and ways in which I would contribute to your client’s sales operation.

My resume is enclosed, and you may call me at 718-555-5555 or send an email to susanmills@somedomain.com to arrange an interview. I look forward to hearing from you!

Susan Mills

Think of the job description as a cheat sheet for writing your cover letter and ensure that each one is tailored to the job you’re after.

Want more advice like this? Visit our Career Centre.

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