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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be if You Want to Grab Their Attention?

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
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So Just How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

So, you found the perfect job – and now you need to apply. But before you apply, you sit back and sigh, because you really have no idea how long your cover letter should be.

This is a common problem and because your cover letter can make or break you, so it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts BEFORE you submit your resume.

A key question we get asked all the time is “How long should my cover letter be?”.

And depending who you ask, you may hear a variety of very different answers, so we thought we’d take a minute to set the record straight.

The answer here is quite simple. Your cover letter needs to be as clear, concise and to the point as possible. So, ultimately it should be to be as long or as short as it needs to be to hit these markers.

For those of you looking for a numerical answer – a great cover letter is typically 4 paragraphs long – with 2-3 sentences in each paragraph.

Now aside from the length, there are a few key points of information that needs to be included in your cover letter.

Paragraph 1

The first paragraph should be used to introduce yourself and develop a bit of rapport with your reader. An example would be:

“Hi James,

Congrats on your recent nomination to the Chamber of Commerce 40 under 40 Awards! It’s amazing to see your hard work recognized. I recently saw a job posting to join your team as a Human Resources leader, I’d be thrilled to chat with you and learn more about the role.”

As you will see from the sample language above, it’s helpful to set a friendly tone in your first paragraph. If you can throw in a complement and some text to show that you do your homework (without stepping over the stalking line), it’s worth the extra effort to set a kind tone.

Lastly, by mentioning your interest in the first paragraph, you convey the intentions of your messaging very clearly.

Paragraphs 2-3

Ok, onto the next paragraphs. In these sections, you should clearly depict the value you will add to the team by being specific about your experience and accomplishments. An example would be: 

“I have 10 years of progressive HR experience and have been promoted several times in the last few years due to my strong work ethic and high performance. Most recently, I was successful in resolving an outstanding labor relations claim, generating a savings of over $200K for my employer.

I am highly skilled in people management areas including Talent Acquisition, Employee Relations, Talent Management and Succession Planning.  These skills have proven very valuable to my previous employers as they have helped to solidify our company’s position in the market through effective people management.”

These sections are important because if written correctly, they will peak the hiring managers interest and encourage them to call you (which is the goal of the cover letter).

Lastly, your closing paragraph should seal the deal!

A great example would be:

“I would love to discuss my qualifications, talents and skills with you, so you can learn more about my experiences and how I will add tremendous value to your team. I look forward to connecting soon!

Warmest, Jane Joe”

We hope this sample cover letter helps to demystify the process a bit and get you ready for your next application.  Feel free to use it, tweak it to convey your skills and send it off to your next potential employer!

Good luck!

FULL COVER LETTER:

“Hi James,

Congrats on your recent nomination to the Chamber of Commerce 40 under 40 Awards! It’s amazing to see your hard work recognized. I recently saw a job posting to join your team as a Human Resources leader, I’d be thrilled to chat with you and learn more about the role.

I have 10 years of progressive HR experience and have been promoted several times in the last few years due to my strong work ethic and high performance. Most recently, I was successful in resolving an outstanding labor relations claim, generating a savings of over $200K for my employer.

I am highly skilled in people management areas including Talent Acquisition, Employee Relations, Talent Management and Succession Planning.  These skills have proven very valuable to my previous employers as they have helped to solidify our company’s position in the market through effective people management.

I would love to discuss my qualifications, talents and skills with you, so you can learn more about my experiences and how I will add tremendous value to your team. I look forward to connecting soon!

Warmest,

Jane Joe”


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