Your cover letter is a potential future employer’s first impression of you, so you need to make it a strong and favourable opinion. Yet, applying with a cover letter that runs over several pages is guaranteeing the letter won’t be read in its entirety. So what is the ideal length for a cover letter?
What is a Cover Letter?
Your cover letter is a way of showing your personality and eagerness for the role. You’ll want to write about why you are the ideal candidate for the role by discussing your skills and experience, how those will benefit the company, potentially also why you’re applying. There are a few absolute necessities however:
- Contact information – If you haven’t already provided during the application, include your email and phone number
- Mention the vacancy you’re applying for
- A few specific examples of experience that are relevant to job specification – pick a few points
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s position. They’ve recently advertised the position and they’ve received 50 applications for the role. They need to go through every application in detail to determine if they’re the right candidate to invite for an interview. The last thing they want to read is a two-page letter.
We recommend keeping your cover letter to a maximum of one page. The cover letter is only an introduction to you and why you’re ideal for the role.
Don’t fill the space
You’ve written a concise cover letter, which includes all the aspects listed above, but it only comes out to half a page. That’s fine! It’s a skill to write concisely and if done well, you’ll achieve the same outcome – an interview invite – with fewer words.
Don’t feel the need to fill white space left on the document as you’ll likely end up padding out your cover letter. Once you start padding it out, it becomes less impressive and interesting. Don’t be afraid of applying with a cover letter that has a few paragraphs covering the necessary topics, the rest of the information should be in your CV.
The hiring manager will receive many cover letters, so they’ll be on the lookout for keywords. You can find out what those keywords by looking at the job advert, it will include specific responsibilities, skills and required experience, often summarised into keywords of phrases. For example, if a role talks about compiling data and analysis, mention that in your covering letter and highlight your example afterwards.
The cover letter is a great way to get your enthusiasm and personality across to the hiring manager. Treat your CV as a definite guide to your experience and your cover letter as a polite means of introducing yourself to the hiring manager. Avoid repeating points your raise in your CV as it will likely be read alongside your cover letter too.