The length of a cover letter is an important consideration when applying for a job. If it’s too short it may give the impression that you applied in a rush and that you are not interested. On the other hand, employers simply don’t want to read long cover letters simply because they don’t have the time.
Should you send a cover letter? As a general rule, you should always send a cover letter with your resume unless the employer specifically says not to. It is your opportunity to grab the employer’s attention and make the crucial positive first impression.
You need to strike a chord with the employer and show that you have the key attributes they are looking for. You need to analyze the job posting to get a sense of what they’re looking for and then nail your cover letter.
How many words should a cover letter be?
Your cover letter shouldn’t be longer than 350 words and it should be kept to a single page. It should highlight the most relevant skills, experience, or qualifications. It shouldn’t include all your achievements, that’s what your resume is for.
350 words is the maximum limit for the cover letter length, not the recommended limit. Ideally, it should be shorter, providing you can hit the nail on the head.
Cover letter structure
Your cover letter should include the following sections. Make sure the different parts are spaced out attractively. If you’re writing an email it isn’t necessary to include the employer’s contact information or the date.
Contact information: name, address, city. state, zip code, phone number, email address.
Employer contact information: name, address, city. state, zip code, phone number, email address.
Cover letter opening: Dear Mr./Ms. last name,
First paragraph: Include some information about the position you’re applying for including the job title and how you heard about the position. Briefly say why you are a strong candidate for the position.
Second paragraph: Expand on why your work experience and qualifications make you the ideal person for the job. Focus on a couple of main points and keep it brief.
Third paragraph: Thank the employer for considering your application and finish on a positive note. You could say that you’re looking forward to their response.
Cover letter ending: Your sincerely,
Concise, simple, and readable
Reading your cover letter should be easy. Use short sentences with the occasional longer one for the sake of variety. Avoid over punctuating by using mainly full stops and not too many commas.
Decide the points you want to highlight them and them write them in the clearest way possible. You are neither writing an academic essay or a text message to a friend so. Keep it serious and don’t feel the need to show off your vocabulary. Try to avoid cliches as they lack effect.
Cover letter format
Readability should again be the aim. Make sure there is ample white space and that the text doesn’t look crowded. Leave margins and leave space between paragraphs and the different section of the cover letter format.
Use an easy-to-read font such as Arial in size 11 or 12 as you don’t want the reader to squint. Make sure you left-justify your entire letter.
Check for mistakes
Proofread your cover letter at least twice before you send it. This is one of the best cover letter practices as typos and other silly mistakes give a bad first impression.
You want to show that you’re professional so make sure both your cover letter and your resume are up-to-scratch. It can be difficult to spot your own mistakes so ask someone else to look at it too if possible.
Read a guide on how to write a resume which maximizes your chance of reaching the interview stage.