What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a supportive letter which comprises of content that presents you in a formal way to the employer. It is a document which is mainly attached to the resume or CV when sending for the job interview process.
Crafting a cover letter isn’t so easy for any job seeker. You might be wondering how long should a cover letter be and whether the hiring managers will be happier with a shorter cover letter or they will read a long essay or it should be a single page, etc.
A cover letter is a way to screen applicants for available interviews. It includes detailed information on why you should be selected for the job?
It exaggerates the reasons for your interest in the organization and manages the most relevant skills and experiences. It is basically supplementary to you resuming and highlighting only such factors which are relevant for the job you are applying for.
The employers receive lots and lots of resumes once they launch an opening so it becomes difficult for them to interview each and every person who has applied for. Thus, they screen out applications on the basis of covering letters.
To show your relevant skills, your covering letter should be such that it should attract the employer from its first look. They need to be concise and must be within a page. The busy persons will just skim your covering letter in 10-20 seconds. So, you should make it sure that the points are clear and to the point.
The cover letter boosts your chances of getting your resume shortlisted for the interview. Though the cover letter formality has been very commonly seen, still there are many candidates who are confused about the length of the cover letter, the importance of the cover letter, word count etc.
Now in this article, we will be discussing how long your cover letter should be, along with extra tips on writing an effective cover letter.
Should You Send a Cover Letter?
According to Saddleback College Resume Survey, more than half (53%) of employers responded when a cover letter is attached, while nearly 30% had no preference. This report clearly shows that most of the employers appreciate the cover letter.
A cover letter helps you get noticed by the employer, thus increasing the chances of you getting selected in the interview process.
You can exclude the cover letter only if mentioned by the employer.
How Long Should Your Cover Letter Be?
“What’s the Ideal Cover Letter Length?“,well, this is an important question which needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.
Now if you write a short cover letter, the hiring manager might think you are too lazy or just don’t care about such things.
If written too long, then he might just pass it away.
So preparing a cover letter in a proper and right length is very important.
Ideal cover letter length:
The length of the cover letter should not be longer than one page. The things which need to be comprised in it are your qualifications, skills and abilities that you will use for the growth of the company.
As per a few experts, your cover letter should not exceed more than a size of the page. Around 70% of the employers prefer a bit longer cover letter, whereas the shorter cover letter is liked by 30% of the employers.
Here are the stats which are drawn as per the survey responded by the employers on the length of the cover letter,
- Full page – 12.6%
- 1/2 page – 43.7%
- No preference – 19.5%
- The shorter, the better – 24.1%
Format of a Cover Letter:
The cover letter format also plays a vital role. The first thing to choose here are the font and size of the letters. Arial, Calibri, Verdana, or Times New Roman are the preferred font and 12 would be a perfect size.
A proper margin of around 1 inch should be added to the left, along with it spaces should be implied in between the paragraphs and texts.
Do not make the cover letter too cluttered or disordered, so that it becomes difficult to read.
Cover letter Word Count:
It is not that mandatory to stick to a word count when preparing a cover letter. It is better to focus on preparing an effective cover letter rather than anchoring about the number of words used.
The basic count maintained is 250-300 words. After preparing a cover letter, share it with your friends and family and get their feedback.
How To Write Email Cover Letter?
The cover letter written in an email should be similar to the length written on a paper. The cover letter should be in 3 paragraphs and the word count should be around 250- 300. The only difference is that the email cover letter should comprise of an effective subject line.
Cover letter Email Subject Line :
The basic cover letter should be completed within 3 paragraphs. Make sure that your first paragraph is concise and to the point. The second paragraph is typically your introduction and the third one is your qualification.
Along with it, a perfect email subject line would make the whole cover letter more effective and powerful. Also, make sure that the subject line of the email does not exceed 30 characters.
How Long Should an Electronic Cover Letter Be?
There is not much difference between a paper cover letter and an email cover letter. A simple view on a paper cover letter lets you know the length of the cover letter, thus making it easier to read.
But if the email cover letter is in the same way, it might be a little uncomfortable for the employer, while reading.
So while writing an email cover letter, make use of short paragraphs and bulleted points. Make sure that the cover letter goes inline with the company goals.
Email Cover Letter Length Example:
I’m very excited about the software engineer position at Igatronix, Inc. I’m confident I can help you become the #1 SaaS video editing platform on the web. For one, I led the team that won the Bossie for an online video editing application.
To me, the Bossie wasn’t just an award, but a culmination of:
- Eight years as the CEO of a profitable video production firm.
- Growing revenue for a SaaS business 22% through superior development.
- Advanced product testing, pulling in client teams to boost customer ratings 32%.
I’ve been a huge fan of Igatronix products for several years. It’s your commitment to letting employees guide the life cycle that delivers your success. You value self-motivated, highly creative software engineers, and my record speaks for itself.”
The cover letter should be specific and to the point. This gives a good impression about you to the employer.
The things that need to be comprised in a cover letter are,
- Why this role
- Why this company
- Why you
How To Make Your Cover Letter the Right Length?
As mentioned in the article, a generalized cover letter comprises of 3 paragraphs, be it a paper one or an electronic cover letter.
Preparing the cover letter that too with the right length is not that difficult if you know how to craft each paragraph in a proper way.
How Long to Make a Cover Letter First Paragraph [Example]
Now let us see how the first paragraph of a cover letter should be. The starting point of the cover letter should be effective, as it can break or make your chances of an interview.
Cover letter first paragraph example:
“I’m extremely enthusiastic about the project manager position at E.A. Seton Children’s Hospital. I’m certain I can help with your upcoming Lean Healthcare transformation. This comes from my success implementing Lean at Greenhow Hospital, with a 32% cost reduction and 20% boost in HCAHPS scores”.
As per the example, the first paragraph catches hold of the employer’s interest as it comprises of something very effective and fruitful.
It also shows that you are excited about the job role, which gives an impression about you to the employer.
How Long to Make a Cover Letter Second Paragraph [Example]
Cover letter second paragraph example:
“As Project Manager at Greenhow, my core skill at putting the employees first helped me lead the team to:
- Create a “Just in Time Restock” project that cut stockroom waste by 65%.
- Build a supply room relocation project that slashed wasted foot traffic by 88%.
- Cut redundant forms, decimating wait times and boosting patient scores 20%.”
As the second paragraph is compiled in bulleted points, it makes it easier for the employer to read. The stats and the numbers give an effectual touch to the cover letter.
How Long to Make a Cover Letter Third Paragraph [Example]
Cover letter third paragraph example:
“Lean Healthcare makes excellent sense, as evidenced by the rampant waste in our industry. I said as much in my article “Health Care and Lean: The Time is Now,” linked to by Fortune. You spoke these thoughts yourself in your acceptance speech at APIC last year. Our thinking is aligned. With my track record of Lean success and E.A. Seton Children’s Hospital’s commitment to it, I believe the sky’s the limit”.
Here is the key point of the cover letter, by this your employer starts reading your cover letter.
And the reason why it works is because it not just says blindly that “I like the company”, but demonstrates it truly through your aims and goals.
You should not only focus on the cover letter length but also make sure that it is effective and strong enough
Ideal cover letter length is:
- Less than one page
- Longer than half page or 2/3rd of the page
- Word count: About 250-300 words
- Format: 3 paragraphs
Finally, a productive cover letter should cover the most important 3 things which are,
Why this job, why this organization, and why you!
Source for all the examples: Zety
There are certain ways to cram down lots of information in such little space. Here are below mentioned ways on preparing a short cover letter:
How to Write a Short Cover Letter: 16 Tips
1. Only 30 seconds time allotted to your letter:
Hiring managers are so busy that they will have only 30-40 seconds time to read your covering letter. You need to include proper spaces, simple formatting and bulleted points to make your experience easy for the eye. When you want your CV to be different from all, you need to make a cover letter which is different from all. This is a very important self-document. Due to such less time allotted to read the covering letter, candidates feel that they are not even read. But this is not true. If employers find catchy lines in the covering letter they go ahead and read in a summarized way. When you present it in a brief form, it shows your intelligence.
2. Show off your communication skills:
The covering letter is the first impression you put in front of the recruiter. This letter should portray your communication skills effectively and the way you present your data. It look appreciative if you use punchy and short sentences which are effective and definitely used for making you call and invite for the interview. A communicative candidate is a must for any position and his skills will be displayed in his covering letter itself. The paragraphs may be short but they should be full of passion and excitement in working in the organization and praising it. Covering letter is better written in a conversational manner.
3. Only Reasons for applying the job shall be highlighted:
The readers normally are busy and they are unwilling to read and waste their time on it. Don’t make it complicated and formal. Maintain your letter in a standardized format so that the eyes knows from where and what information is to be extracted from it. It is true that the topic and matter is same for all. But you can make it unique by using different words for the same matter. The reason being the same, it can be in a sincere way.
4. Allow your CV to do the work:
There is an attachment with the covering letter called the Curriculum Vitae which is responsible for including all details related to your professional and academic qualification, skills and experiences. Allow that CV to be filled with your everyday achievements. Keep the detailed things away from the letter. It is important to get your resume noticed too. If you include all the points in the covering letter, neither will it serve the purpose for the employer to read it, nor will it display your skills in a correct way. So, it is better to make your covering letter short and your resume in detailed format.
5. Make your covering letter right sized:
The best approach is to stick to facts of writing the letter. Start from the very beginning mentioning the reasons and make your lines attention seeker. Speak out why they should hire you mentioning the relevant qualification and experience. Ask for interview and follow up details and close the letter by signing in a sincere manner. The plain format of the letter will be automatically impressive when the words in it will show their magic.
6. Short means interesting:
Short letters are easier for you to proof read them. Write directly from your heart. Keep you aim and goals in writing in a tight manner. First understand the pressure you will have as a recruiter reading your covering letter. You should feel proud of yourself reading your document, then you can expect others to show interest in these. Don’t make your letter a dry reading for them. Approach the recruiter directly to call for an interview because you want the job.
7. It is not your autobiography:
A covering letter is just a letter of introduction that highlights your key information and accomplishments. It is only to make sure you are fit for the job opening. It is written to focus on the important areas of your resume. It is written particularly for each employer and each job highlighting the importance of their organization and the openings. It is not right to consider your covering letter as your autobiography and write the whole life history.
8. Make edited sentences:
A strategically targeted covering letter is the most important weapon with which you can fight the battle of getting the job. So, make your weapon as sharp as possible so that you get through in just one cut. Edited sentences show that you are targeting the job and the employer in a specific way.
9. It will not make you repeat information:
When you know that you have to restrict yourself into some paragraphs, you will tend to remove unnecessary portions from the letter. The main purpose of a covering letter is to market your skills, qualification and experiences. The letter plays a major role for tweaking in to the applicant list. So, you should not repeat your resume details in a shorter way. Instead, you should tell the employer what attractive elements you found for the job and why you want to work there.
10. It will make your exclude irrelevant information:
Since, it is in your mind to make yourself precise and short, you will edit it number of times to remove unnecessary information. This proofreading will make your letter more strong and presentable. Other than unique skills, you will want to exclude all other personal information because your main motive will be to highlight the skills.
11. Some information shall be provided on request:
By dropping a covering letter, give the employers and readers a chance to approach you. In regard to references and other non crucial information, mention that they shall be provided on requirement, so that your purpose is served and your letter is also clean.
12. Style of writing will enhance:
The covering letter needs as much attention for preparation as a resume. This is a valuable document at the time of evaluation. Generally, candidates prepare the covering letter after preparing the CV. So, it is just an after document for them. But they don’t know that it is a very instrumental document for the employer. Even though everything is online in recent days, a covering letter still holds its own importance. It is preferable to submit covering letters along with resumes even if you are submitting online.
13. Unnecessary exaggerations shall be removed:
Only provide examples that will demonstrate a clear link between your knowledge, abilities and experience and also match with the needs of the employer. Include soft skills and academic skills in the covering letter only if your are applying first time for a job with no experience. After you have gained experience, you can only include your experience and not required to include any academic criteria
14. Only include critical information:
A cover letter is the first thing that lodges in the minds of the employers. Here, you get an opportunity to interact with the employer and sell your key strengths confidently, to grab the readers’ attention. It is likely to progress in the line of selection process. Don’t make spelling and grammatical errors in the covering letter. A mistake in the covering letter will not only reveal your lack of interest but also show that you don’t have a habit of proofreading the same whatever you are writing.
15. Short and concise letters will make the employer take early decisions:
A tailored and a compelling letter shows that you have taken time to go through the basic requirements of the company openings and the company profile. It is a platform to express your enthusiasm to the employer and ask him to demonstrate values you would add to the organization.
16. Effective selling:
Covering letter are effective selling documents because they keep your salable attributes in the front. Explaining your achievements will show that you are suitable for the job and also let you stand apart from the other candidates as well. Make sure whatever you write is valid and true to best of your knowledge and written in a tone which creates interest in you as a potential candidate to interview.
A well-crafted letter is generally vital in applying for any job. It should only speak of hiring you. It shows that you are eager to contribute your expertise to the company. It is the golden and first rule of job searching. A concise cover letter adds value to the resume.