/ Asked by Emilie
When reading cover letters, do you prefer the standard "I am writing to express my interest" opening line or something a little more punchy? I want to be concise and to-the-point, because I am aware that the position I'm applying for receives thousands of applications, but I also want to stand out. Any advice on a stellar opening sentence?
Answered by Bryan, Hiring Expert at IBM Corporation, on Thursday, September 5, 2013
There are many ways you can start out a cover letter including pointing out your interest in the specific opportunity, briefly mentioning why you are a good fit and asking for an opportunity to speak with the company / company contact to provide additional details about your relevant background and experience.  That is pretty standard and straightforward approach.  However, the ones that catch my attention are usually a bit more creative.  Essentially, if someone can figure a way to catch my attention, there is a good chance I will give them a bit more interest while reviewing.  You do not want to get too creative, but a quick quip that mentions how many resumes the company or hiring manager is probably reviewing through with the a follow up such as...Mine is one more, but I do have some experience that can be challenging to come by. 

One other thing to think about is whether or not you even need a cover letter.  If the role is an engineering or technical role, you may not need to waste time on a cover letter as most recruiters and hiring managers are less concerned with your writing capabilities and more interested in your engineering or technical skills.  In fact, many of them never even look at the cover letter more than a few seconds for those types of roles.  However, if the role does need strong written communication skills, you definitely want to provide a strong cover letter. 
Answered by Kit, Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., on Friday, September 6, 2013
You are already on the right path by wanting to keep it concise and to-the-point. Your written communication is such a reflection of your personality and it would be really hard for me to say - my only advice is to be true, simple, and comfortable with your message. Understanding the requirements of that role will be a great guide – it will help you to succinctly relate it back to your credentials, skills and enthusiasm for the role. I wish you much success in your career search.
Answered by Todd, Hiring Expert at MetLife, on Friday, September 6, 2013
I personally put limited weight in a cover letter especially if very generic. That being said they are useful if they actually address the specific position you are applying for AND have keywords in your resume that highlight the skills I am looking for. Take the extra time to read the job description in detail and then make your cover letter cover those skills and experiences the job requires and you have a better chance of being noticed.

And 1 or 2 paragraphs is plenty. We do not have time to read novels. Hope this helps!
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