How do you review a job description to prepare for writing a cover letter?

To write a good cover letter, you need to spend time

  • Reviewing the job description, and
  • Matching it to your skills and experience

The more you practice tailoring cover letters to fit job descriptions, the better you will become at analyzing possible roles (is this job right for you?) and preparing for interviews.

Follow the steps below to tailor your cover letter to the job description:

  1. Print out the job description.
  2. Read the description through from beginning to end
  3. Reread the description, this time focusing on the role (rather than the skills)
  4. Underline key words or phrases and write down answers to these questions:
    — What will the person in the role be doing?
    — What experiences have you had that have prepared you for the role?
  5. Next, focus on the skills required
  6. Underline key words or phrases and write down answers to these questions:
    — What skills are required?
    — What skills do you have?
    — What have you done that shows that you have the skills?
    — What technical skills are required?
  7. Outline the order in which you plan to address the requirements of the job description
    — Follow the order in the job description (requirements are listed from most to least important)
  8. Finally, review the job description and your lists to determine whether you are missing any experiences or skills

No one has all of the experiences or skills required for a job. Applicants handle this mismatch by focusing on experiences or skills that they do have and that are transferable from one context to another.

You are now ready to write a great cover letter that will be tailored to the role!

How do you organize your cover letter?