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The cover letter is your introduction to employers. It should be a brief and direct note that’s tailored to the position and firm you’re targeting. Whenever possible, address it to a specific person by name, ideally the hiring manager for the job.

Cover letters should convey why you are writing and how the firm could benefit from hiring you. Before you begin writing, do some research on the employer to help you come up with ideas to make it original. A letter that shows you’ve done your homework and understand the company’s specific challenges can be a powerful differentiator.

Make sure your cover letters accurately reflect your personality. For instance, don’t send forward, aggressive letters if you’re introverted and laid-back. And try letting others sing your praises. If a former supervisor still maintains to this day that you’re the best at something, include a quote from him or her, the person’s name and title.

It’s generally recommended not to mention salary in cover letters. Employers will typically ask for your salary requirements in a phone screening or during the interview process. But if you’re responding to an ad that requests this information, cite a range or acknowledge the request and add that you’ll be glad to discuss compensation during an interview.

Finally, ask a trusted friend, mentor or career adviser to review your cover letters before sending them to make sure they lack typos and read smoothly.