What’s the secret to a great cover letter? Brevity. While nobody’s going to attempt the job-application equivalent of War and Peace and submit a cover letter that’s dozens of pages long, some do have a tendency to ramble a bit.
If you think your cover letters jabber a bit too much, try this exercise: Edit down the document so it’s a half page of text, tops. Keep everything important; just try to figure out how to say it all as concisely as possible. (Avoiding vagueness about your background and accomplishments can help keep your writing nice and succinct.)
In terms of basic format, remember: The first paragraph is introductory; the second describes how your skills make you a solid fit for the organization; the third emphasizes how much you want the job, concluding with a line about following up in a few days about a potential interview.
You might be surprised at how much information you can convey in such little space, once you put your mind to it. And HR staff and recruiters will appreciate a quicker read.
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