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.
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.
- Show some understanding of the role and organization: Demonstrate how and why you’re a great fit for both the job and the organization.
There are examples of standout cover letters (and resumes) and a step-by-step guide to crafting a cover letter in the presentation below.