Even if the content of your resume doesn't change significantly from one application to the next, your cover letter definitely needs to be tailored to each job or opportunity you are applying for.
A cover letter should accompany your resume and is an important part of the application process, whether you are applying for an advertised position or contacting employers directly for non-advertised opportunities. A cover letter allows you to introduce yourself, demonstrate your motivation for the position and highlight key skills and experience relevant to the position. It is good practise to provide a cover letter at all times, even if one has not been requested.
In practical terms, a cover letter should be a short document (maximum of a page) aiming to generate enough interest for an employer to turn to your resume for more detail. They are therefore a good way to present your key skills and experiences.
These key skills and experiences need to be relevant to the position you're applying for: your cover letter should be tailored to the individual industry, organisation, and position. This means that you should only state relevant information; emphasise certain information over other information, and; not mention irrelevant information.
In other words, you should never send an employer a generic cover letter. Any employer will want you to answer three basic questions throughout the recruitment process, and you should cover these in your letter:
- Can you demonstrate that you can do the job?
- What would motivate you to do the job?
- Would you fit into the organisation's culture?