Cover letters are a pivotal part of the job application process. They can be a convincing and biased way to introduce yourself to potential employers, and they explain why you would be the best fit for specific positions.
However, many people don’t know how long a cover letter should be. Let’s discuss the most effective length for cover letters and explain why they’re more relevant now than ever!
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A cover letter should always be short and sweet. It should be, at most, 3/4 of a page, with a few short paragraphs. 300 words are the sweet spot but allow for a range of 180-310 words. The goal is to provoke curiosity and get the reader to ask questions or pay attention to your attachments.
Most experts agree that a cover letter should be no longer than one page. Concise language use allows you to get your point across without rambling, and it depicts your precision.
However, if you have a wealth of relevant experience or qualifications, you may need to attach separate detailing documents.
In general, a cover letter should give just enough information to get the reader interested without going into too much detail. It’s a way to introduce yourself and your qualifications, explaining why you would be the perfect fit for the position.
Image – Yurlick
Cover letters were initially the covering pages of letters sent by courier or post. They protected the delicate stationery inside and provided a space for the sender to provide their address and the date.
The term “cover letter” evolved to refer to the letter itself, often used to introduce the sender and request an audience with the recipient.
It became relevant to the labor industries in the early 20th century as a way for job seekers to introduce themselves to potential employers. They would be the initial documents employers read before going over resumes, and they were often used to weed out applicants.
Since then, cover letters have taken on many different forms and purposes, but their goal remains the same: to give the recipient a snapshot of who you’re and why you would be the perfect candidate for the job.
Nowadays, cover letters are not as commonly required as they once were. Many online applications allow you to upload your resume without any additional information.
However, a well-written cover letter can still help beat a competitive hiring process.
Hiring managers were not as busy when cover letters first came to use as they’re nowadays. They had the time to read through lengthy letters that gave detailed accounts of each applicant’s qualifications.
Now, with hundreds of resumes and cover letters to sift through, hiring managers often only spend a few seconds looking at each one.
Thus, I retaliate: cover letters should be short, sweet, and to the point. Shorter letters are always more likely to be read in full than longer ones.
We’ve seen a drastic shift in how people transmit information over the past few decades. With the advent of the internet, we now have unprecedented access to more information than ever.
The average person is bombarded with advertisements, news stories, social media posts, and more daily. We’ve become accustomed to skimming through information to find what we’re looking for.
This drift has changed the way employers look at resumes and cover letters. They now prefer shorter, more concise documents that get straight to the point.
When applying for jobs, it helps to consider that hiring managers are often overwhelmed with applications. To make yours stand out, keep it short and sweet. A few paragraphs are all you need to introduce yourself and explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
If you have lots of relevant experience or qualifications, you can always attach additional documents. But in general, less is more when it comes to cover letters.
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It’s okay you have lots to say about your suitability for the job, but a 500-word cover letter is too long. The professional font is double-spaced Times Romans font size 12, which fills up a page with about 310 words. Any more words would spill over onto page two, forcing the reader to scroll on the phone or PC.
Scrolling is a precious time-waster for recruiters, so avoid that by capping your cover letter at 310 words.
When writing a shorter cover letter, be more specific about your skills and experience, rather than repeating what’s already in your resume. The point of the cover letter is to invoke curiosity and get the reader to pay more attention to your attachments, such as:
- Reference letters
- Samples of your work
Yes, a cover letter can be too short that the reader will send it straight to the recycle bin. The idea is to introduce yourself, your qualifications, and your experience in an enticing way for the reader to inquire more about you.
If your cover letter is only a couple of sentences long, the reader will likely feel like you’re not really trying.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your cover letter to about 3-6 paragraphs, with the first paragraph being used to introduce yourself. You can use the second and third paragraphs to elaborate on your qualifications and experience.
Use the last paragraphs of your cover letter to invite the reader to contact you to discuss the job further. Thank them for their time, and include your contact information, such as your email address and phone number.
People find it hard to write cover letters as they need to be short and compelling. How do you summarize 15 years of academics and 23 years of professional experience into less than one page?
It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Start by highlighting your most recent and relevant experience and qualifications. If you’re stuck, try looking at sample cover letters online for ideas of how other people have approached the task.
Another difficulty people face is not knowing to whom they’re addressing the letter. If you can’t find a name, try using a generic salutation, such as “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”
When in doubt, err on the side of formality. It’s better to be too formal than too informal in a cover letter.
Finally, don’t forget to proofread your letter before you send it. A few typos can make you look unprofessional and careless. Use a spell checker, and ask a friend or family member to read over your letter to catch any errors you may have missed.
Cover letters are still relevant for getting employed, but people are moving away from traditional employment. Have you heard about the big resignation? It’s the most recent trend where employees have been quitting their jobs to pursue remote working, entrepreneurship, and consulting.
The art of pitching is still relevant, but it’s taken on a new form. Pitching now happens in many different places besides the boardroom. It happens:
- Over social media
- Through cold emailing
- In networking events
- In casual conversations
Pitching is the newly evolved way of writing cover letters. It’s about being clear, concise, and to the point. It’s also about knowing your audience and what they want to hear.
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To get the most out of your pitches, you need to understand how to customize them for different media and clients.
Here are a few tips:
- Research the client or publication before pitching them – It’ll help you figure out what they’re looking for and how best to appeal to them.
- Be clear and concise – Get to the point, and don’t try to be too clever.
- Personalize your pitch – Mention something you like about the client or publication or how your work will fit in with their mission.
Facebook groups are the most lucrative places to find new clients. By participating in these groups, you can build relationships with potential clients and get a feel for what they’re looking for.
What do you think of John Nyaga’s pitch as his cover letter in an application email he sent to a copywriting & SEO agency? Here it goes:
“I’m a copywriter and educational blogger with a firm grasp of content writing for affiliate marketing. I’m also a great cook, albeit a bit lazy in the kitchen. I’ve been blogging since 2017 and love to talk about cooking, fitness, personal development, and business strategies that work.
Plus, I only drink spring water because I have one right in my mountain garden. Yes, an underground spring that pops up, flows downstream, and forms a river! That’s why I never run out of good content, and I’m looking to enrich your affiliate marketing blogs with some Jarvis Magic.
Before I wrote for money, I wrote poems. Yes, I had sweet teenage years, and some guys envied my sweet-talking skills. Time taught me there’s always more to relationships than just empty sweet talk.
I transitioned into commercial writing. I aced GMB local SEO pages for businesses in California and Wide Wild Texas. I wrote, and I still write, catchy and educative posts and E-books on various digital marketing strategies.
There’s no success if you can’t couple sweet talk with results, and you can bet my work has bagged numerous Featured Google Snippets on highly competitive keywords. Making money is your business, so leave the wordplay and blogging to me. Hey, sign up for a sample piece if you’re still sitting on the fence.
You can contact me to find out more about how I work and my writing style. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a PM.”
This cover letter/ pitch is 248 words long. The recruiter was so captured that she invited him for a paid test to see if they’d move on with him. To date, it’s a happy working relationship!
John still used the same pitch on a weekly hiring thread on the official Jasper Facebook Community.
Out of the 68 total comment entries, his entry got the most likes (6) and tons of other engagements.
Here’s how to approach your internship cover page if you’re looking to storm the employment markets.
“Dear [Employer Name/ Title],
I am writing in regards to the [position] internship opening at your company. After researching your company and this particular position, I am confident that I would be a valuable asset to your team.
The skills and experience I have gained through [previous experiences/classes] have prepared me well for an internship in [this field]. I am excited to put my knowledge to use and learn more about the industry.
Attached are my certificates and proof of various accomplishments that symbolize the value I bring. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Pretty short, right? Well, it will get better when you customize it by inputting the specifics in the brackets.
Research is key when it comes to writing a cover letter or pitch. You want to ensure you’re addressing the potential employer/client with a clear understanding of their goals. Without research, your cover letter will likely end up in the trash.
When a company asks you to include specific information in your cover letter or pitch, it’s for a reason. Failing to follow these instructions shows you’re not willing to follow and take directions seriously. It’s not the impression you want to give potential employers.
Cover letters and pitches are usually the first introductions an employer will have to your work. Error-free cover letters show your attention to detail and diligence.
Your cover letter is not the place to beg for a job or act entitled. Such tones will only turn off potential employers, leaving a bad taste in their mouths.
A cover letter or pitch is your chance to shine and show potential employers why you’re the best candidate for the job. By following the tips and examples in this article, you can write a cover letter or pitch that will grab attention and land you interviews.
So, what are you waiting for? Get writing! If you need help writing your cover letter or pitch, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to help!
Cassie Riley has a passion for all things marketing and social media. She is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, language, music, writing, and unicorns. Cassie is a lifetime learner, and loves to spend time attending classes, webinars, and summits.