Outshining the competition during a job application with a resume alone can be challenging. That is why a cover letter is a crucial tool to accompany your resume during this process. Although submitting one is not always a requirement, it allows you to provide further details on how and why you would be a good fit for the job. As a matter of fact, 26% of recruiters said that a cover letter is a critical component in their hiring decisions.
While the purpose of cover letters is very clear, there might still be some things that are running through your head. You may be wondering how long your cover letter should be. How many details of your past experiences do you have to write or share? Do you need to hit a specific number of words? Well, keep on reading to know the answers to these questions.
What is the ideal cover letter length?
The length of cover letters is an important thing to consider when applying for your dream job. According to best practice, a cover letter should not be less than a half-page and no longer than one page. Too short cover letters can give the impression that you are not genuinely interested in the job or just applied in a rush. On the other hand, making it too long can cause hiring professionals to lose interest quickly and be tempted to skip reading it.
As a job seeker, you should keep in mind that hiring professionals don’t always have extra time to read long cover letters. In fact, Saddleback College findings revealed that 70% of employers they surveyed prefer a less than a page cover letter, and 25% said that the shorter, the better. In addition, another study showed that people’s attention span has changed and markedly decreased over the past several years. This is why it is important to have a concise cover letter that narrates your qualifications and experiences in the most engaging way possible.
What if you cannot fit everything you want to add to a one-page cover letter? Well, you don’t have to include everything on what’s in your resume. You should focus on what you need to include in your cover letter. The best way to do this is to understand the requirements of the job you’re applying for by going through the descriptions carefully. Then, match your qualifications to the needs the company and position are looking for. Highlight your most notable achievements to give employers concrete proof that you’re a valuable addition to their team.
How many words should a cover letter have?
Unless stated in the job post or an employer requires, there is no specific number of words you should aim for when drafting your cover letter. In fact, we suggest focusing on the content more rather than hitting a specific word count. Keep it brief and informative at the same time to increase your chances of getting noticed. Break the cover letter body into five paragraphs to ensure you don’t miss out on any important details. Each paragraph should contain three to five short sentences focusing on the following:
- First Paragraph: Introduction
- Second and Third Paragraphs: Relevant experiences and achievements
- Fourth Paragraph: Employer information
- Fifth Paragraph: Closing
It may not be easy to fit your qualifications for a job into a tight cover letter length limit. What details to include and what to leave out may also be confusing. However, if you follow the proper steps in customizing one, you can achieve a compelling cover letter with the right length, creating a nice balance and readability. Consequently increasing the chances of catching the attention of hiring professionals.