The Art of the Short Cover Letter
We’re going to tell you about the biggest lie floating around the Internet. No, it’s not the one about Khloe Kardashian’s real dad or Beyoncé’s fake baby bump. This is some next-level conspiracy theory stuff. Are you ready? Here it goes:
Contrary to what the internet says, you don’t need to write a long cover letter. You should never write a long cover letter. Ever. Why? Because no one wants to read a long cover letter. Long cover letters make hiring managers look through multiple paragraphs to find the skills necessary for the job. Short cover letters present the skills required to the hiring manager and enhance your chance of hiring. To ace the art of a short cover letter, you need to follow some simple tricks and points, which we will tell you in this article. Let’s begin.
Purpose of Cover Letter
To write a perfect cover letter, you must first know its purpose and role in hiring. A cover letter is the first impression a person can create on the recruiter by telling him why and how he is the ideal candidate for that post.
A cover letter gives the hiring manager an idea about your personality and skills. You can tell the recruiter why they should hire you or what you will bring to the table if you get hired.
Job Recruiters usually get bombed with many job applications for a particular vacancy. Your cover letter shows how you are different from other candidates and why you should get hired.
To stand out amongst those many applications, your cover letter must be impressionable. According to the research, 55% of the recruiters seek a cover letter for the hiring. This gives you another reason to ace the art of a cover letter to get hired soon.
Why should the cover letter be short & precise?
When we say that a cover letter must be short and precise, we are saying it for some important reasons. Here are the four most important reasons to keep your cover letter quick, to-the-point & straightforward:
1) For the sake of Hiring Manager
A hiring manager generally receives plenty of excellent, good, and bad applications for one single post. Imagine all having a long 2-3 pages cover letter! That would be a tedious thing for the hiring manager, and you might lose your chance of getting hired.
The hiring manager doesn’t like to read long cover letters as they want to see how well you can approach in limited words. So to save the time and efforts of both, you must keep it short, impressionable and precise.
2) You only get 30 seconds to create an impression
A recruiter generally gives only 40 seconds to read your CV and less than that to the cover letter. In those 40 seconds or less, your CV and cover letter should leave an impression on the recruiter to interview you further.
If you keep the cover letter long with irrelevant details and cheesy lines, they will not shortlist you.
You need to make it easy for the eye to find the key information at first glance. For that, do proper formatting, use bullets and short sections with relevant details.
3) To show off your Communication Skills
Your short and precise cover letter reflects how well you can communicate in fewer words. In this world of messaging/tweets of 160 characters limit, the hiring managers want you to be concise and clear.
For any role, communication skills must be solid and impressionable. With your small cover letter, you can Wow them and influence them to talk to you further. Keep your tone conversational yet format with a few decent punch lines.
4) Let your CV do the rest of the work
A cover letter is just a way to summarize the relevant key points as everything else is there in your CV. If you will include all the things in your cover letter, why would the recruiter see your CV?
Your CV should highlight your key skills and past job experience, while your cover letter is for the introduction and how you find the job.
Only say the relevant things in the cover letter, like why it is your dream job and how you will benefit the organization.
How Long Should The Cover Letter Be?
Most people get confused about how long a cover letter should be. Is 1 page enough for the cover letter, or should we write more? Let’s see how long you should keep your cover letter.
The simple answer to this question is, “A cover letter should not be longer than 1 page. In the case of an email cover letter, the shorter it is, the better.” The Saddleback College survey shows that 70% of employers wanted a cover letter of less than a full page, and about 25% said the shorter, the better.
Talking about the word count, there is no specific word count for the email cover letter. Just keep it concise and mention only the relevant skills related to the job. In short, two paragraphs would be enough. One is for the introduction and the other explains your qualifications for the job. Close it with relevant details and wait for the response.
Here’s an example:
Subject: Social Media Marketing Coordinator with 3 Years of Experience
I’m writing in response to the opening for Social Media Marketing Coordinator at Dreamworks, and I believe this position will report to you.
I have three years of experience doing social media marketing for Disney Films, in which I helped grow Twitter followers from 60K to 1 million. I have strong problem-solving skills and experience managing campaigns from start to finish. Both of which should make me an ideal candidate for this role.
I’ve attached my resume for your review and would love the chance to speak with you about this opportunity.
Why it works: It’s digestible. It takes Ariel’s skills and explains how those skills relate to the desired job. It calls the hiring manager to action and says, “I’m the right person for this job.”
So, when you apply to your next job, resist the urge to tell the hiring manager about your camp counseling days. Keep your cover letter short, sweet, and to the point.
How to Format a Cover Letter
A nicely formatted cover letter not only grabs the recruiter’s attention but also enhances your chance of getting hired. From Font Style to another formatting, keep these things in mind to get your cover letter noticed:
Font Style: Go for the Simple & Professional Fonts like Arial, Calibri, Verdana, or Time New Roman.
Font Size: Keep the Font size normal, not too big or small. 2 is the ideal size.
Structure for Cover Letter:
- Introductory Paragraph
- Your Qualification & Skills (in bullet points)
- Closing Paragraph
- Signature (including your contact details for the further process)
Give the proper margin of 1-inch around and align the text to the left. Leave an appropriate gap between the paragraphs, salutation, and signature to avoid clutters. This will make your cover letter look neat and easy to read.
How to Write an Impressive Short Cover Letter? - Do’s and Don’ts
Now come to the most critical part of our article. Writing an impressive and concise cover letter is an art. To master it, you need to follow some tips and basics. Let’s see how you can write an effective cover letter beginning from greetings to the closing paragraph.
1) Address the Hiring Manager with his/her name or Position
People often use the most traditional way to address the Hiring Manager or Recruiter using Dear Sir/Madam. Don’t do it. Always go for Dear or Mr./Ms. Including their name. If you are not able to find the name of the concerned person, mention their position like “Systems Engineer Hiring Manager” etc.
Never use general salutations like “To whom it may concern” etc., as it shows your lack of interest or seriousness towards the position.
2) Start with a Killer Opening Line
Skip the need to start with your name as the recruiter can see the same on your resume. Start the introduction by showing your enthusiasm towards the job role & company. Then introduce yourself with some creative (not much informal) lines to give the recruiter a better idea about your skills & personality.
You can start with something simple & snappy like “I am excited to apply for [job] with [Company].” Then highlight your passion, current status, and past experiences.
3) Explain why you want to join this company
Before writing a cover letter, do your research about that company. What they do, what is their vision, work culture, opportunities, etc.
Explain in your cover letter why you want to be a part of this company and what excites you most about the role. How the company will be beneficial for your career and how it is different from others.
Always do your research about the company you are applying for and mention in your email description why you want to join that company and what your contribution will be, so they can consider you more seriously.
4) Don’t Repeat the Same Things Mentioned in Resume
A cover letter is not for the things that you have already mentioned in your CV. It is to give a recruiter a precise idea about your personality, skills, and experiences, so don’t expand it by repeating the same things.
Just show how you are suitable for the job and why they should consider you. Talk about only the relevant things and let your CV do the rest of the work.
5) Talk about your skills and what you can offer to the company
Now amongst so many applications, why should the recruiter consider you? Tell him/her about your skills and how you are different from others. What makes you an ideal candidate for the job? And if they choose you, how you will contribute to the organization’s growth. All these things must be mentioned in a convincing tone in your cover letter to impact the recruiter.
Mention your most relevant skills (including both personal and technical) related to the job. You can follow this structure to tell the hiring manager relevant things about you:
- Skills you have learned and how they can be helpful for the organization
- Relevant experience you have for the job
- Your expectations from the job
- What are your interests (that tells about personality & goals)
How to Fill out the skill set in case of limited work experience?
In case of limited work experience, engage yourself in volunteer work or projects that enhance your skillset. If you have done any freelance work relevant to the job you are applying for, mention it. Be a part of community initiatives. Ask people to endorse you for your skills on platforms like Linkedin, etc., to get noticed by recruiters.
The body of the cover letter is an excellent place to mention your internship experiences, projects you have worked on, etc.
Share what experience you have gained from such projects (but only the relevant ones) to impress the recruiter.
6) Stick to the main 2-3 points only
Don’t miss the critical points by talking about irrelevant things. Figure out what can be the potential 2-3 points that can best communicate your interest and personality to the recruiter. Then stick to those points to paint the complete picture in the most possible engaging way. By focusing only on 2-3 relevant points, you will be able to keep your letter precise and short.
7) Attach Testimonials or Past Experience (Provide Links if possible)
Recruiters usually seek relevant past experiences or testimonials in your cover letter to check your skills and work. Instead of explaining it in long paragraphs, try to attach links. For example, if you are applying for a Content Writer position, share the links of your published content. Or, if you are a graphic designer, provide your portfolio link.
Testimonials act as a trust factor for the recruiter. This will help the recruiter to understand whether you are a potential candidate or not. This is a great way to communicate your purpose and skills without explaining much.
8) Finish Strong
Never ignore the last few lines of your cover letter, as they are equally important. Closing the paragraph is your last chance to show your zeal and enthusiasm towards the post. You can add closing lines like “Looking forward to hearing from you” or “Waiting for your positive response.”
You can mention some crucial details in the closing paragraph. These details include your salary expectations, your willingness to relocate or not, etc.
Use the last few lines of your cover letter smartly. Share your contact details with your signature so the recruiter can communicate further with you.
To write a short and precise cover letter:
Work on your written skills. Follow the tips we have mentioned above and analyze some good cover letter examples to get a better idea. Avoid using weak adverbs or long jargon that will make your cover letter unnecessarily long. Don’t repeat sentences. Only include valuable and relevant information related to the role.
After following these tips, we hope you will be able to master the art of a Short cover letter. Stay confident and optimistic. If you have any queries left, share them with us in the comments. Keep looking for new opportunities, and never stop learning!