/ Asked by Jonny
I am applying for jobs, and going through the painstaking process of writing cover letters. Should I write a standard cover letter describing/ repeating my resume and how it pertains to the position, or should I write a short and to the point cover letter describing what I will bring and how I will contribute? Also, considering I am unaware of who is reading my cover letter, would it be okay to skip the title and just jump into the meat of the cover letter?
Answered by Kellie, Hiring Expert at Emerson, on Thursday, August 22, 2013
Yes, cover letters can be a tedious task but a well written letter may make the difference in getting you to the next step in the interview process. The goal of cover letters is to expand on your resume by describing the specific skills you have that relate to the open position. You can also think about them as a way to explain how you will be able to apply your skills/contribute to the new position if you were to be hired.
Cover letters should be around 4 paragraphs and should include a title. Even though many people may read your letter you can turn a generic introduction into a personalized one by writing something like, “Dear (company name) hiring manager”. By including the specific company name in the title you can show the hiring manager/recruiter that you wrote the letter specifically for their open position. After the title you will want to start with an introduction paragraph that includes your overview, the position you are applying to, and a preview the top 2-3 skills you have to offer the company. Then, the body of your cover letter will be one paragraph per selected skill. Each paragraph will describe the skill needed for the job and explain how your experience with that skill relates to the open position. Finally, you will finish the letter with a closing paragraph that reiterates your interest in the open position and includes your direct contact information.
Keep with it and soon writing cover letters will be an easy task to complete. Best of luck!
Answered by Susan, Hiring Expert at Praxair, Inc., on Monday, August 26, 2013
I think in today's world, the issue of cover letters is a mixed-bag. 

I personally would recommend that if you send  cover letter, it should be very short and specifically address perhaps 2-3 key requirements for the job and demonstrate how you have delivered results previously in that area (quantify these results, if possible).

Your resume should be written to address the kind of job you are searching for, which means you will likely have several versions of your resume when you are job hunting.  I like to capture within the resume itself examples of results I've achieved (think along the lines of this example:  delivered 25% cost savings for my department when I re-engineered the materials purchasing process, or increased customer satisfaction at half of my customer base due to (xyz...).

I would address the cover letter as follows:  Dear Hiring Manager

Answered by Elizabeth, Hiring Expert at HCA Healthcare, on Monday, August 26, 2013
Cover letters are one of those things that evade people, until the understand the outline, and then it is much easier.  Each application requires a uniqe cover letter, as you need to reference the specific position you are applying for and why the company is of interest.  But, you can share some similiar experiences to really highlight your strengths.  Employers view cover letters as a chance to see if you can write well, and also it provides an opportunity for you to make more direct connections between your experiences and the requirements of the job.  You always need to follow business format for the letter, so yes, do all you can to find out who the contact is who will be reading your letter, but if you cannot find it, you can address it "To Whom It May Concern."  The first paragraph of a cover letter is meant to state what position you are applying for and why you are interested in the company.  Do a little research on the company and refernece specific initiatives or products that interest you.  The second paragraph is meant to focus on why you are the right fit for the job.  Pick an experience that you can elaborate on that highlights one of your strengths that relates heavily to the requirements of the position.  If they emphasize strong analytical skills, pick a specific experience where you displayed strong analytical skills.  Explain what the Challenge or assignment was, the steps you took to work through it, and then what was the outcome.  Wrap it up by saying how this experience developed the specific skills referenced in the job posting, and how based upon this, you could help the company achieve its objectives.  The last paragraph is focused on thanking the reader and providing your contact information in case they need more info.  It is best to play it conservative and safe when it comes to your application for postions.  Good luck!
Answered by Eddie, Hiring Expert at American Express, on Thursday, September 19, 2013
Cover letters are not to be overlooked as they are an opportunity to showcase why you are interested in a position. This is particularly helpful for you as a candidate if you are making a career industry switch or if your prior experience is not directly related to the position. Your cover letter should not be a carbon copy of your resume and should instead highlight why you are interested in the company (try not to be generic here) and key achievements that are relevant to the role. I would recommend addressing the cover letter and if you are unaware of who is reading it, it is always safe to address it to the recruiter.
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