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How detailed and specific should a cover letter be?


Dean Lowe Amherst, OH

Should a CL address specific qualifications and job responsibilities?

11 November 2019 11 replies Resumes & Cover Letters



Steven Mathews Spring, TX

1. Provide a Cover Letter if asked for in the Job Position description. It is just another piece of paper to toss if it is not required.
2. I can provide you with four examples with a template.

24 November 2019 Helpful answer


Dennis Crumb Lafayette, CO

Wow a lot of differing answers. I think it is always good to provide a cover letter. In that letter make it specific to the position you are and company for which you are applying. Why do you want that job with that company. Highlight the qualifications and experience they listed in the job descriptions that you can speak to directly. Pick a couple that you think are really important to the employer and highlight experiences that would demonstrate you have that specific skill set.

Somehow you have to stand out from all the other applicants and by doing it this way you will. Thank you for your services!


Robert C Lawrenceville, GA

Hi Dean.

I have two resumes.

One is about 20 pages. That one only goes on interviews with me. I do not hand it out. It covers everything I have done, very detailed, including hobbies, accomplishments, etc. It serves to help me remember the answers to questions that I am asked in an interview. It you post such a resume online, it will never be read.

The resume that I post online and give to perspective employers in one page. I've been working for 40 years. Yes - all that experience can be summarized to one page. Each position is given in the following format: My Title, Years in that title, Location of the job, one sentence job description. At the top of the page is a short paragraph summarizing my work experience.

I hope that this helps. Don't forget that employers are falling all over themselves to find employees who will show up to work, by on time, not complain, do whatever is asked and more, and display character. Your military experience puts you at the top of the list.


Bernard Agrest Tulsa, OK

Hi Dean,

I hope you're doing well! I think generally it is good form to tailor a cover letter. However, how much you end up tailoring a cover letter depends on a number of factors:

1) Are you applying to a smaller non-profit job or a large corporate job?

Smaller non-profits (and in general organizations) tend to value well written and tailored cover letters more than large corporations. This isn't to say a non-tailored CL will get you automatically rejected, but with smaller organizations the most senior level people are typically the ones doing the screenings. At large companies, that is usually the job of HR (and sometimes even an intern.)

2) Do you have relevant experience in the field, or are you making a pivot in your career?

If you've spent your entire career in the field then your resume may do a lot of the talking for you. If, however, you're making a big change you should spend at least a little bit of time explaining how your background and prior experience makes you qualified for the role you're applying for now, as well as how that experience positions you to do the role better than those who are more experienced in the field.

3) Are you applying 'cold', or through a recommendation? A strong CL/Resume combination may get you an interview, but if you're getting a personal referral from an employee of that organization, or a friend, you're already better positioned than most people. This isn't to say to NOT put that same amount of time and effort into your application, but it does give you a built-in advantage.

I'd recommend you have a strong template for your cover letter (workshop it with your friends/family/peers) and then use the particulars of the role you're applying for to flesh it out. I'd also say the same for your resume - you should have a strong master resume, which you then edit to best suit the requirements of the role you're interested in.

Let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to reach out if you'd like. More than happy to help!




David Eastman Gresham, OR

Hello, Dean

Thank you for your service.

I write a lot of resumes, cover letters and Q&As on behalf of friends and family and always tell them that the resume is a detailed and comprehensive listing of their experience, skill sets and education. It can be historical or functional, although functional resumes are powerful because you can focus on what you accomplished in specific areas without detailing the companies you did it for.

As for the cover letter, my strategy is to talk about my value to the company. In doing so it is more personal, but professional, and highlights what capabilities I bring to the company and how that will help the company accomplish its business goals.

As for not including a cover letter, with so many electronic job sites now, the cover letter often gets lost in the mix. That said, if you can get your resume and cover letter to a hiring manager and the HR department in another way, i.e., Fedex, registered letter, that will get their attention and also set you apart from the crowd.

Good luck in your job search and much success in your career.

David F Eastman, CEO
Veteran, US Navy


Dilshad Ahmed Westfield, NJ

Hi Dean,
A cover letter is often a waste of time since most executives hardly read them or at most, quickly glance through them. With that said if I do get a cover letter I try to at least skim through it and try to pick some salient points that might tell me more about the person. Sadly, many people are terrible at writing and that puts me off. If a cover letter is not required, I wouldn’t waste time on it and the resume should speak for itself. If it is required, make sure you tailor it to the role and try and give some color to your background. Draw the reader’s attention in the very first sentence since you know they will be skimming after that. Keep it to one or two paragraphs the most of just a handful of sentences. Don’t fill up the page with words and just like the resume, have some nice white space. Feel free to contact me for more information if you need any help. Happy thanksgiving and Good luck!


Henry ("Dr. Hank") Stevens Fort Lauderdale, FL

A cover letter is an opportunity to draw a line between your TALENTS and the particular position you seek. A resume touts your education, experience, and accomplishments.

As a recruiter & vocational counselor for many years, I always tilt in the favor of someones' TALENT for the tasks to be done and only secondarily, consider their experience, education, and accomplishments.

One simple example . . . . if you were hiring for a receptionist position, would you want someone who is an introvert or extrovert? Introversion and extraversion cannot be taught. They are TALENTS. I think the answer apparent. Thus, in my opinion, YOUR talents should be touted in the cover letter. That is, in the cover letter, address this question: Just how do YOUR native talents fit in with the demands of the position you seek?

Need some help identifying just what YOUR talents are? Take this FREE assessment instrument. It is the first step when I provide vocational counseling:

Although the on-site assessment analysis is quite good, IF you need some help interpreting the results, please provide me with the report letters and numbers. It should look something like I-14 N-56 T-23 J-33 and do so off this channel to:

Dr. Hank


Karen Galecki Chicago, IL

Hi Dean,

It should, but I agree it should also be more personal and geared toward the specific company.
Keep in mind while a CL can be valuable and it certainly can't hurt (it shows effort, can help make a personal connection by giving additional insight into who you are, etc), a lot of recruiters and managers never look at them. So I wouldn't rely on tweaking the CL only for each company, as you should also do that in your resume to highlight the relevant skills required in each specific role.




Jodie Prieto-Rodriguez Pittsburgh, PA

“A good speech should be like a woman's skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”-Winston Churchill


When I review a cover letter, I'm looking for it to provide a personal narrative on who the person is, why or how they became interested in the position, any experience they may have in the field (an example with metrics is preferred), and what value they believe they can add to the team/position.

The resume is to provide an educational and professional summary of what skills and experience you posses; the cover letter is to show who you are and how you make awesome happen (namely, how you can see yourself doing awesome for the company you are applying to). I would recommend using the organizations mission vision values statement themes in the cover letter; to express comparable values and work ethic... only if you both have it.


Patricia Telliho Somerset, NJ

Hi Dean, yes a cover letter should highlight your accomplishments of the job requirements. That said you will find you should tweak it for every job you apply for. It shouldn't be a book, but specific.


Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

Look at a cover letter as the reason to see your resume. You want to 1) make sure they know the position that you are applying for(they could have 100's open) 2) provide some keywords in the qualification section from the posting that will match i.e.( PMP certificate with 4 solid years of experience in project management) 3) obtain some information that you feel connects you personally to the position, company, division etc. You can not relate personally in your resume, as that is where you show case your skills, accomplishments and match as much of that posting as you can. There are articles on cover letters, I found that the personal connection part shows you cared enough to search deeper than just who they were and what they did! Thanks for your service and God Bless.

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