How long should your cover letter be?

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How long should your cover letter be? A simple question, right? But if you ask different people, you might get a different answer each time.

While there are exceptions, in general, a page is fine. Of course, there is a lot to cover in a page. Alison Green of Ask A Manager has some great advice on how to ensure your cover letter stands out without being too long:

The litmus test is this: Does your letter make a compelling case for why you’d be awesome at the job, without repeating your work history?

If your letter does that but it’s longer than a page, look for ways to edit it down without losing its essence. If it’s half a page or less, you should just be damn sure that it’s truly passing that litmus test. It’s hard to meet that test if you’re writing very short. Not impossible, but a lot harder.

Read the rest of her advice here.

Determining how long your cover letter will be is just one aspect of crafting an application. You have to figure out what will be in it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Follow any and all directions: Sometimes employers will ask you to answer questions in your cover letter. Regardless of how long your cover letter is, if you don’t follow directions, you risk not getting a chance at an interview.
  • Demonstrate a genuine interest in the mission: Hiring managers value commitment to the cause and experience. Showcase both in your cover letter without simply repeating your resume. This also requires that you craft a unique cover letter for each position.

There are examples of standout cover letters (and resumes) and a step-by-step guide to crafting a cover letter in the presentation below.

What cover letter writing tips have worked for you? Share them in the comments.

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Photo Credit: Keith Bell, Shutterstock

About Author

Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.

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