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Keep your cover letter short for easy skimming. Avoid restating the information in your resume, but feel free to concisely expand on any information that is particularly relevant to the position.
If you are answering an ad, address the requirements in the ad and speak to how your experience relates to each requirement.
If you are sending the letter cold, make sure your letter reflects some research on the company, how your background relates, and why you have an interest in that company.