If anyone knows the difference between a good cover letter and a bad one, it's probably Sybil Ryan. As the personnel representative for Malone & Hyde _ a subsidiary of Fleming Companies Inc., the nation's largest wholesale food distributor _ Ryan screens thousands of them every year. Although applicants can't enlist Ryan's help, they may benefit from her suggestions. She offers the following: _ Make a list of skills, traits or personal achievements that you feel would be of benefit to a particular company. _ Find out who will be reading your cover letter and personalize your letter. "The personal approach might often mean placing a call to the company to find out someone's correct title, the correct spelling of their name and the company's name," she added. _ Use a straightforward approach, limiting it to one page with no more than three paragraphs. _ Never use a hard or phony sales pitch. Try not to sound like you are too "puffed up" with your own importance. _ Remember that nothing makes a worse first impression than grammatical errors, typographical errors or misspelled words. _ Don't send out form letters. "Form letters and letters written by a professional resume service are very easy to spot because they all tend to look and sound the same," she said. _ Pay attention to details. "One thing that most job seekers overlook when composing a cover letter is the typewriter the letter is typed on," Ryan said. Don't type a cover letter on a machine that's been stored away in the basement or sitting somewhere collecting dust. Inspect the ribbon to see if it's clean and make sure that the machine's spacing is working properly. She also suggests proof-reading a letter several times to make sure there aren't any mistakes and that it's clear and concise. Also, when you're reproducing your cover letter and resume, make sure the copies are of top quality.