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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

Cover letter

When applying for a new job, your CV and cover letter give an employer their very first impression of you. Your CV lists and details your relevant experience and skills, whereas a cover letter allows you to delve deeper into your passions within the industry and job role.

As cheesy as it sounds, your cover letter truly is your time to shine and show the employer your professional personality.

One of the biggest questions asked about cover letters is just how long a cover letter should be, and there’s definitely a sweet spot. Too long and you risk rambling, but too short, and you may come across as insincere or lazy.

What's the perfect length for a cover letter?

It is recommended that a cover letter should be half a page to a full page. Your cover letter should be divided into three of four paragraphs for easy reading, too.

Remember: a lot of important information is already on your CV. So, when writing your cover letter, you need to cherry-pick the best bits to showcase.

 

What to include in a cover letter

Imagine yourself as a recruiter: what would you find interesting when reading a cover letter? What information would you deem relevant? Be your own best advocate, and select the information that will give the most memorable impression.

As an applicant, you have to remember that recruiters have limited time when reviewing applications. In fact, your suitability could be determined within the first 30 seconds of them reading your cover letter.

It’s all about quality, not quantity. You want to deliver something that fits the recruiter’s essential job needs whilst showcasing your own personal achievements. There's no denying that it can initially be a daunting task – after all, you have to prove yourself in only a matter of words. But it is possible, and writing cover letters gets easier with time and practice.

 

I don't have enough to say!

That's probably not true. It’s very likely that you have a lot of information to discuss in your cover letter. Think about what got you to the position where you can apply for this job – experience, skills and resilience. So, talk about it, and be proud of what you have achieved in your professional journey so far.

Writing a cover letter can sometimes feel overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you reach a decent length and include all the important points:

  • Check the job requirements and make sure to reference your experience with them, even if it is brief (you can expand on this if you get an interview)

  • Include your contact information

  • Tell your story – give the recruiter some insight into your personality and work style

  • Acknowledge the reader, and thank them with a call to action: this can be as simple as adding ‘thank you for taking the time to review my application, I look forward to hearing from you soon to discuss this role further’ at the end of your letter

  • Keep your paragraphs short, concise, and focused

  • Show how you can tackle specific tasks with real-world evidence and examples

  • Include a brief description of why you’re a good fit for the role and expand upon this

  • Mention one or two stories about relevant accomplishments

  • Use bullet points where applicable

  • Top tip: do some research, and impress the recruiter by opening the letter with their name instead of ‘Dear Sir/Madam’

How can we help?

We want you to achieve your career ambitions, and refining your cover letter is an extremely important step in making your career goals a reality.

If you’re looking for a new job and need some guidance, you'll find a wide variety of resources on the HRS website, ranging from a CV checklist to a list of job interview tips.

CV Advice & Tips >