How long should your cover letter be?
There are countless resources and templates out there regarding how to write, frame, and style your resume / CV – but the same can hardly be said for cover letters. While a vital part of the job-seeking process, it can be largely overlooked due to its ‘optional’ nature at times, depending on certain roles.
The purpose of a cover letter is designed to introduce you as a prospective employee and to show what you can do for the company to which you’re applying. It is the place where you can express yourself; what you are best at and why you want to join their team. Overall, it should encourage the recruiter to read your resume and consider you for an interview.
However, it is important to note that your covering letter is not a substitute for your CV / resume. Your CV / resume is the highlight of your application – your covering letter just makes it more enticing to read.
So how long should your cover letter be?
There is the general consensus that your covering letter should never be more than one page long, not unless specified otherwise, although this is considerably rare. Recruiters aren’t looking for essays, after all. It should be composed of three-to-four paragraphs highlighting your key experiences, achievements, and skills. On the numbers side of things, anything between 300 and 500 words will keep it to one page – and a little tip for anyone struggling to keep it that way: using a 10.5 font-size instead of 11 might help you squeeze it all in. On that note: don’t use anything too flowery, a simple and readable typeface is best.
But, moving on: how do you keep it all on one page?
You need to compact your experience to its key aspects. You are drawing attention to your best experiences and highlighting your skillset. In terms of structure, your covering letter should be composed of the following:
- An addressing statement. Never write ‘To whom it may concern’ – it shows a lack of interest in the organisation. Instead, consider ‘To the [company] Talent Team’ or if you know the name of the recruiter, ‘Dear John Smith.’
- The bulk. This is your three-to-four paragraphs. Here, if applicable, you would write about the most recent career experiences you’ve had and your best achievements from each. If you can keep each paragraph here under 100 words, you have more space to cover your skillset that is relevant to the role being applied for. Address why you want to go and work for the specific company or team.
- Thank you. Always finish off your covering letter with a statement thanking the recruiter for looking at your application, followed by a formal goodbye greeting such as ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Kind regards.’ This shows a degree of respect and professionalism that is desirable to corporate entities.
What is ‘disruptive cover letter’?
- A disruptive cover letter is an innovative approach to writing a cover letter that stands out and captures the attention of hiring managers.
- It involves using creativity, uniqueness, and boldness to tell a compelling story that connects you with the company and highlights your key achievements.
- Elements of a disruptive cover letter include telling a compelling story, creating excitement for what comes next, highlighting key achievements and skills, and ending on a memorable note.