Think about the last hand-written card you received from a friend. When you saw the return address, perhaps you tore the envelope open with childlike joy. The stationary was your favorite color and the letter told a story of your last adventure together. The gesture made you feel good all day and it was very clear that your friendship is important to the sender.
Now think about the last piece of junk mail you received. What about it do you remember? My guess is not much. That same mailer landed in thousands of other mailboxes, desperately seeking a positive response. You felt annoyed and certainly not special.
So why would any sane person keep sending the same resume and cover letter to employers who are knowingly different from one another?
Job seekers, let me tell you a secret. Employers want to feel special. They want to see themselves in your communication. They want to feel your enthusiasm for the institution. They want to see that you know about what they do. They want you to want them (in a totally professional way, of course).
I can hear your frustrated sigh– it’s a lot of work to individualize resumes and cover letters. But think of it as an investment. The more time you spend researching institutions and tailoring each application, the less time you’ll spend searching.
So what are you waiting for? You have a lot of writing to do.