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The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received

by David Silverman

David Silverman has been an entrepreneur, an executive, and a business writing teacher. His latest book is Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost 4 Million Dollars.

Find more content by David Silverman at blogs.hbr.org/silverman

Here's my basic philosophy on cover letters: Don't bother.

That's because the cover letters I see usually fall into one of three categories:

The recap: This is merely a résumé in prose form. It's redundant, harder to read than the résumé, and provides no additional insight.

The form letter: This says, essentially, “Dear Sir or Madam: I saw your ad in the paper and thought you might like me.” And it's clearly a form letter—hopefully ...

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