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!