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I realize that this question is rather subjective and may be closed. Maybe I should ask it elsewhere.

This is an example of how one might write a cover letter, expressing their interest in the position and the company, their suitability for the role, and how their experience matches with the responsibilities and requirements of the position and candidate, respectively:

Dear John Smith,

I am writing to you in regards to the position within your company of Project Development Engineer.

Below I will address the responsibilities and requirements of the position, inline, with my responses in bold.

Key Responsibilities include:

  • Analyse bid specifications and designs to determine project scope and areas where design enhancement may be introduced. Outline relevant experience
  • Manage coordination of engineering and departments to deliver bid requirements. Outline relevant experience
  • Identify and follow up new lead opportunities in conjunction with sales managers. Outline relevant experience
  • Develop supplier and manufacturer relationships to identify the most suitable products and/or components available. Outline relevant experience
  • Identify market opportunities and continually evaluate value proposition in chosen markets. Outline relevant experience

To be considered you must have tertiary qualifications in Photovoltaic Engineering or a similar Engineering field (state education) together with:

  • Demonstrated experience in developing and maintaining quality business relationships. Outline relevant experience
  • Outstanding presentation and communication skills. Outline relevant experience
  • Excellent organisational skills, with the ability to work under pressure. Outline relevant experience
  • Ability to work to deadlines. Outline relevant experience
  • Confident and self-motivated individual. Outline relevant experience

I am very excited to learn more about this opportunity, and share how I will be a great fit for ABC Company. I believe this is a position where my passion for this industry will grow because of XYZ opportunities that the company provides. If I am offered this position, I will be ready to hit the ground running and help the company exceed its own expectations for success. I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my qualifications will be beneficial to the company’s success. I’d love the opportunity to talk with you about this position when you’re ready to begin scheduling interviews.

Note that the last paragraph, while demonstrating interest in the position, could really be stated in any cover leter, while modifying ABC Company and XYZ opportunities.

The inline responses could alternatively be delivered more traditionally in paragraphs with a linking phrase and a keyword that relates to the bullet point.

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I disagree with Gabe that "we don't really read them", but I do agree that this is too long for a cover letter, and most of the information you're trying to put in should be in your resume.

Cover letters are an expected and important part of your application. Your resume is your relevant history and description of skills, but the cover letter is the first chance you have to introduce yourself and to show why you think you would be a good fit for the job.

I'm not saying it's the only factor, and it's not even the most important, but it is still part of how you sell yourself.

Three short paragraphs are all you need. The first you introduce yourself and mention the role you're applying for. In the second paragraph, talk about what you think you can bring to the job - highlight a couple of the key requirements. Finally, mention that you are excited about the role, and that you're looking forward to being able to discuss it in person.

  • We don't disagree on length. I do disagree on the cover letter being your first chance to introduce yourself. I skip them and read the resume. Most people I've talked to do. If the resume is good, the cover letter doesn't matter (or can be non-existent), odds are I probably won't read it. If the resume is bad, the cover letter doesn't even get glanced at. Cover letters are about 10th on the list of things I'd look at, if that high. Resume, then if I'm on the fence about a call any linked items (projects, apps, SO profile, github, etc). And it they don't convince me the letter won't. – Gabe Sechan Apr 1 at 3:27
  • @GabeSechan I don't skip them... most people I've talked to don't skip them... like I said, it's not the only factor, and not anywhere near the most important - but wouldn't it be better to advise people to be safe and produce a good cover letter than "they're an anachronism"? – HorusKol Apr 1 at 5:54
  • Produce a decent one, yes. If you decide to bother with one at all (I normally don't and I get plenty of callbacks- although I guess you could call my standard 3 line email one if you really want). I just wouldn't put any real amount of effort or time into it vs other channels of information. Its by far the least bang for your buck. – Gabe Sechan Apr 1 at 5:59
  • Cover letters are targeted more for hiring managers. Many recruiters admit that they don't read cover letters with this reason. Nevertheless, I think it's better to play it safe and write a decent cover letter. However, for submitting applications on tailored career portals, which may have a bot parse the CV and maybe also the cover letter before reaching human eyes, cramming the CV with keywords relevant to the job ad is more important. This is an application I just made: tinyurl.com/y6jt6bdt, for tinyurl.com/sales-op-intn-energy-Tesla. – James Ray Apr 4 at 2:36
  • I highly recommend you look over some of the many questions about writing resumes on this site. You may be able to get this through a keyword filter (which are not nearly as prevalent as you might think - having used certain jobs portal to advertise), but your resume will almost certainly be read by a human before shortlisting for an interview. They will want to see in what context those skills have been applied and not just a list of keywords – HorusKol Apr 4 at 20:39
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Cover letters should be short and sweet. We don't really read them, we scan them. This is way over the length limit. I'm not looking for point by point callouts, that's what your resume is for. And honestly they're the least important part of the decision to call someone, I've never talked to someone due to their cover letter. They're kind of an anachronism.

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