Your cover letter serves one of 2 purposes; to introduce yourself to a potential employer and highlight why you would be the best choice for their company.
How long does it take to convey these two messages?
Well, in a recent article from The Ladders, it was clearly stated that the perfect cover letter is only 2 or 3 paragraphs at most. Only 3 paragraphs? That seems short – but given the rapid pace everyone seems to be moving these days, 2 or 3 paragraphs should be plenty.
The reality is, we as a society have so much information flying at us, that we generally don’t bother to take the time to read anything that is perceived to take up too much of our time. Additionally, if we aren’t immediately engaged, the content may be discarded. So, get to the point.
Don’t drag on and on with pointless details that aren’t interesting or valuable to the reader. Keep it short, sweet, and impactful.
Start with an interesting, intriguing opening, follow up with some value-added substance and end off with a call to action for the reader and done.
Here’s a great example of a cover letter with 3 paragraphs that sums everything up quite nicely for the reader.
“My number one priority as an administrative professional is to ensure efficiency, organization and smooth day-to-day office operations.
For instance, within 3 months in my current role as Administrative Assistant at Company X, I was able to create an entire filing system for 15,000+ client files and saved $50K in monthly office expenses by implementing and enforcing a new ordering system.
I welcome the opportunity to speak with you in person about how my administrative expertise can produce similar or even better results for your team. Please, feel free to reach out to me to schedule a meeting as I’d like to learn more about your current administrative challenges. Thanks for your time.
Job Seeker Name”
So, is your cover letter too long” Take another look and see if you can say it in 3 paragraphs.
Here are a few quick tips to shorten it:
- Don’t bother mentioning the fact that you are applying for xyz position that you found on abc website.
- Don’t try to sound sophisticated and use big words, instead be conversational and humanistic versus stiff and robotic.
- If the information doesn’t show value to the potential employer, consider cutting it. For instance, listing skills and experiences that don’t prove beneficial to the business, may not make the cut. Focus on “what’s in it for them.”
Truth be told, there are no rules around this. An effective cover letter is one that sparks interest enough to warrant a look at the resume or call for an interview. So, approach your cover letter with the reader in mind.