top of page

12 Ways to Quickly Customize a Cover Letter

From aligning your opening and closing paragraphs with specific info to being succinct and inviting questions, here are 12 answers to the question, "What are your most effective tips for customizing a cover letter when you don't have a lot of time?"

  • Be Specific in Your Opening and Closing Paragraphs

  • Respond to the Instructions

  • Keep a Template and Make Small Edits to Customize It

  • Help Do the Resume Screener's Job for Them

  • Mirror Info from the Job Posting

  • Try the “Find and Replace” Function

  • Go Way Back to Build a Connection

  • Use the Contact's Name

  • Find an Online Template or Generator

  • Incorporate the Power of Keywords

  • Highlight Your Relevant Experience

  • Be Brief, Direct, and Leave Some Questions Unanswered

Be Specific in Your Opening and Closing Paragraphs

When you're short on time for customizing a cover letter, focus on tailoring the opening and closing paragraphs to the specific company and job position.

Use the job description to identify the key skills and qualifications the employer seeks and highlight how your experiences align with them in the opening paragraph.

In the closing paragraph, express your enthusiasm for the company and the opportunity to contribute to its goals. Be sure to proofread and edit for any errors before submitting the letter. Remember that a well-crafted cover letter can still make a positive impression on a potential employer, even if not extensively customized.

Saneem Ahearn, VP of Marketing, Colorescience

Respond to the Instructions

The job listing you've looked up invariably has details related to the application process. Take a quick look at these instructions and any other hints and quickly address them in your cover letter.

This way, even in a hurry, you will respond to the criteria that matter the most to the hiring team. Also, this will make your cover letter a lot more specific, even if it's short. In addition to being crisp, it'll also reveal your attention to detail.

Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Keep a Template and Make Small Edits to Customize It

Rather than rewriting your cover letter every time, keep the base information the same and make edits to match the cover letter to the job ad. This allows you to customize your cover letter for the different jobs you're applying to but doesn't take up too much of your time doing it.

You should always customize the reason why you think you'd be a good fit for the job and where you talk about specific experiences that relate to the position you're applying for. Your basic info about your work history can remain the same for each letter.

Mark Pierce, CEO, Cloud Peak Law Group

Help Do the Resume Screener's Job for Them

If you're short on time, no cover letter may be better than a long, generic, or effusive one. But even better, there's one technique that is both quick and easy, but also one of the most effective approaches to using a cover letter.

Start with a very simple intro: "In response to your job posting for... please consider:" Then include a two-column table. On the left, "Your Requirements" where you list 4-6 selected requirements verbatim from the job posting. On the right, "My Qualifications" where you highlight selected items from your resume that directly address each of those requirements.

You're making the screener's job easy by directly making the connection between your qualifications and their needs.

Matthew Hamilton, Vice President, People Analytics, and HRIS, Protective Life

Mirror Info from the Job Posting

If you're applying for multiple jobs at the same time, customizing your cover letter for each one can seem like a big, time-consuming task. However, it doesn't have to be.

A quick and easy way to create a customized cover letter is to download a generic template for your industry and then incorporate keywords from the job posting. Mention specific skills, experiences, certifications, or personality traits the employer uses to describe their ideal candidate.

By using words and phrases that mirror the language used in the job ad, you can create a tailored cover letter that demonstrates both attention to detail as well as an understanding of what the position entails. And it'll save you time!

Samuel Johns, CPRW and Career Counselor, Resume Genius

Try the “Find and Replace” Function

If you don't have much time but still want to personalize your cover letter, simply perform a "Find and Replace" function in Google Docs or Word. Use this tool to quickly find company names or hiring managers' names and replace them with new ones. This way, you can turn around cover letters more efficiently.

Jarir Mallah, HR Specialist, Ling App

Go Way Back to Build a Connection

When it comes to customizing a cover letter, you don't need to go all out. One quick tip? Go way back.

By referencing the education or first job of the person you're trying to impress, you'll appear to be intimately acquainted with their entire industry history—even though all you did was scroll to the last entry on their LinkedIn. It's a great way to create familiarity when you don't have an actual connection.

Referencing one's alma mater or entry position also tends to bring up warm feelings for the sector as a whole, especially after years in the industry. It reminds people of the passion they had in their youth, and they'll associate that with your application.

Tim Walsh, Founder, Vetted

Use the Contact's Name

While it's not always possible to figure out who the hiring manager or HR person is for a specific position, it's worth spending a few minutes looking for the information. A cover letter that is addressed to me or that uses one of my peers' names means that the candidate has taken the time to at least look at Transizion's website, which I appreciate.

Beverly Gearreald, Product and Operations Lead, Transizion

Find an Online Template or Generator

One of the best tips for customizing a cover letter when you don't have much time is to use an online template or generator to create a professional-looking document quickly.

Utilizing an online template or generator will help you produce a cover letter that looks polished and professional, while still allowing you to quickly customize key sections. You can use these templates and generators to create a customized cover letter that fits the company's culture, job description, and qualifications.

Jeff Pollak, Partner, RadioActive Media Inc.

Incorporate the Power of Keywords

Identify about 10 keywords describing the position and the requirements in the job posting that you comply with. Focus on both soft skills demanded for the vacancy (e.g. detail-oriented, analytical skills) as well as the hard ones (e.g. copywriting, CRM systems). Then incorporate them into the template of your cover letter, whether in a descriptive way or by adding bullet points.

Make sure to make the expressions very visible and place them at the top of the list of your competencies. Such a technique will make your cover letter specific and personalized and, most importantly, will save you a lot of time.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) have become a common practice used by recruiting teams. As soon as you become aware of it, you will automatically position yourself ahead of the competition.

Martyna Szczesniak, Community Expert, MyPerfectResume

Highlight Your Relevant Experience

I believe it is critical to highlight your relevant experience while customizing your cover letter. Utilize the job description to assess the most significant abilities and experience for the post, and emphasize those in your cover letter. Give specific examples from your previous job experience to show how you utilized these talents to get achievements.

For instance, if the job description states that the organization is searching for someone with experience in social media marketing, emphasize your experience in that field. Provide specific examples from your previous job experience to explain how you used social media marketing to produce objectives, such as increased engagement or traffic to a website.

Tim Allen, Director, Oberheiden P.C.

Be Brief, Direct, and Leave Some Questions Unanswered

There's nothing wrong with keeping your cover letter short, to the point, and in a sort of “cliffhanger.” You can write what you need to, but also leave some questions unanswered in your cover letter. This would require the hiring manager to get in touch so they can learn more and have their specific questions answered in order to better understand exactly who you are, what you have done, and what you might be able to do.

Cover letters don't have to take up an entire page (I've seen some that are even shorter). You can keep them short and as brief as you can. In fact, in our busy world, this might actually be quite effective in certain situations.

Joe Davies, Co-founder, FATJOE


bottom of page