Key Characteristics Of A Great Cover Letter
Cover letters are often overlooked but can be powerful tools to set you apart from other applicants. What are the key characteristics of a great cover letter? Let’s hear from our hiring experts! 

Why Send A Cover Letter

Dustin, Hiring Expert at HP Inc., shares, “Cover letters are an often overlooked opportunity that many applicants simply do not take advantage of. A well thought out cover letter gives you the opportunity to quickly and concisely call out your interest in a particular role, highlight your experience and qualifications, and build an initial connection with a recruiter or hiring manager.”  More from Dustin

Kim, Hiring Expert at Archer Daniels Midland, offers, “Employers are often busy and receive a large number of resumes, which leaves little time for individual review. Having a well-written cover letter can help you surpass other candidates and get you one step closer to an interview. Remember, a cover letter is basically a sales letter. Reinforcing key skills and experiences you’ve mentioned in your resume is important and will grab the reader’s attention. It’s always best to avoid a ‘generic’ cover letter as each one should be specific to the employer or organization.”  More from Kim

How To Address Your Reader

Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., says, “In general, the salutation on the cover letter can be 'Dear Hiring Manager' or 'Dear Recruiter.’  There is no need to be more specific than that as nobody is expecting a candidate to know the names of the person(s) with which they will be interviewing. If you have a general address for the company, you can include it, but it’s not critical.” 

Steve goes on to share, “What is important about a cover letter is that you convey three things.  First, you have a strong interest in the position and are genuinely excited about the opportunity. Second, you should demonstrate that you have done some basic homework on the company. Mention something that you may have researched on their web site that fits with your interests and the position. Lastly, indicate your desire to discuss the opportunity more and your willingness to provide more details about yourself.”  More from Steve

Key Characteristics

Jonathan, Hiring Expert at Avery Dennison Corporation, shares, “One of the most important characteristics of a cover letter is showing your ability to present in written form. It also provides the opportunity to apply your life experiences to the job and allows for a personal touch that can help you stand out.”  More from Jonathan

Susan, Hiring Expert at Praxair, adds, “A great cover letter tells me things in addition to what I can already see on the resume, such as specific examples of your skills or experiences which are a direct "match" to what I'm looking for in the job. Commenting on relocation ability and salary expectations can be helpful as well.”  More from Susan

Siobhan, Hiring Expert at Accenture, says, “A cover letter that is specific and tailored (as well as spelling and grammar mistake-free) is the best cover letter that you can write. Also, remember that a cover letter is just that - a cover for your resume - so if you are able to keep it brief, that’s helpful. Most recruiters are reviewing a large volume of resumes and your cover letter will likely be scanned and then the reviewer will move on to the resume. Pick one to two areas of your resume to highlight and expand upon in your cover letter. Let the other things on your resume speak for themselves.”  More from Siobhan

Should You Always Send A Cover Letter?

Sylvia, Hiring Expert at HP Inc., shares, “I would recommend reviewing sample cover letters before writing one. If the job listing doesn't specifically ask for one, it is not required, but it wouldn't hurt to include a well written one.”  More from Sylvia

As always, it’s a great idea to have someone look over your cover letter to ensure that it’s error-free and that it highlights your skills and accomplishments well! Your cover letter is just one more way to show that you’re a great candidate and move you closer to happily hired. 
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