It is evidently a common thought amongst job seekers to consider having multiple resumes, each appealing to a separate prospect, a unique job. My initial reaction to these folks is -why would you want to go to all that trouble? Would it not be a whole lot easier to first clearly identify your ideally suited position (based on your skills and motivations) and focus your efforts in that direction? That would mean writing one good resume, pointed to your desired goal, the position(s) in an industry you choose, those which are most likely to present you with the greatest opportunity for success and job satisfaction.
The cover letter is where you tailor your words to the position. It is designed to capture the attention of the hiring manager for a job that you have pre-determined is a good fit for your skills and interests. The letter is a support document that accompanies the resume and offers an outline of how and why you feel uniquely and specifically qualified.
Like your resume, your cover letter can open a door for you to get face-to-face for an interview, where you then have the opportunity to sell yourself into a desired position. And while there is some basic writing skill involved–and practice makes perfect here– it needn’t become an insurmountable task. Keep it brief, to the point and make the clear connection between the requirements of the position and your qualifications and capabilities.
Your goal is to compose a good cover letter that captures attention and encourages a prospective employer to want to speak with you. It is also to accomplish that succinctly, highlighting exactly what you think they need to see on how well your skills and accomplishments match up with their needs.
Because the entire sorting process is rapid, it allows for only so much time to decide whether you appear to have the goods to pursue to the next level. According to many surveys, the hiring manager only devotes about fifteen seconds to each resume and cover letter he or she reviews. You might take two or three key points from the resume and emphasize them, obviously targeted to the position for which you are applying.
I like what I still refer to as the “T” letter. You write one key introductory statement “I am writing in response to…”) and then proceed with two columns. On the left hand side you list the job requirements, verbatim as they request them. On the right hand column, you present the match to your skills and experience. If there is one where you just do not quite match perfectly, go ahead and write a statement on an equivalent experience or one in process. What you create is an easy to write, easy to read bulleted account for quick review.
Remember that you are not always going to be a one hundred percent match to the job, but what is more important is that you have the motivation to do this job, which always translates to ease of skill acquisition. Your employer needs to know that you have the basic skills, but almost more importantly that you are motivated to perform the tasks at hand and that you are a good fit for position, the department, the company.