Cover letters are a key part of the job application process.
They list your qualifications, can help you develop a personal relationship with the hiring manager, and allow you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
But when it comes to writing a cover letter, is longer necessarily better? Hiring managers are busy people, sifting through sometimes hundreds of applicants’ resumes.
This means that they probably don’t spend a ton of time looking at your cover letter, either – so it’s best to not waste your time crafting a long novel on why you deserve the position.
Sometimes, short and sweet is the best – and most effective – way to get the hiring manager’s attention. You want to get your point across in a concise and quick way, so that the hiring manager gets a sense of who you are and why you’re qualified in roughly ten second. Seems easier said than done, right? Here are some ways to condense your cover letter while still the content quality at the level that will score you an interview.
Short opening…with a hook
It’s important to stand out by creating an interesting introductory paragraph from the get-go.
The hiring manager has probably read “To whom it may concern…” an infinite number of times. Create a short, sweet and interesting opening that will make them want to read more and learn about who you are.
Pretend you are back in creative writing class and open the letter with an interesting line, story or personal relation to the company or role.
Just be sure to keep it professional and not drag on for too long – once you have them hooked, start talking about why you are the person for the job.
Differentiate your resume from the cover letter
When you apply to a job, the cover letter and resume are both submitted for review. So, it would make sense not to reiterate your resume on the cover letter – right? Surprisingly, many people simply repeat what is on the resume into their letter.
While the cover letter is used to summarize qualifications, it should be a supplemental addition to the resume. Why tell the hiring manager what they already know?
Instead, use the cover letter as an opportunity to elaborate on your experience and accomplishments. For example, say you have your last position on your resume with a few bullet points.
Take the opportunity in your cover letter to expand upon that job and highlight any skills that may be relevant to the position you are applying for. This is your opportunity to discuss how each role you have held can aid you in this new role.
Eliminate over-used lines
Getting back to creativity and fluff in cover letters, try to get rid of any trite words or phrasing that most employers see every day. Try to skip to the point you are trying to make. Instead of the common listing of traits, “I believe I am a hard-working, motivated individual,” give examples from your work experience that display these traits.
Not only will this make you stand out by not having the same repetitive phrases, it will shorten your letter and get your point across quicker.
Cover letters, if done correctly, can be very beneficial to an applicant. However, being too lengthy and boring can also hurt you in the long run and – quite frankly – will be a waste of your time to write.
Keep it concise and original, and your chances of scoring that interview will increase.