5 Ways to Shorten Your Cover Letter

There are some basic mistakes to avoid when writing a cover letter, and making it too long is perhaps the most important one. But how do you keep it concise when you have a long and complex work history? Read on for some tips to keep your cover letter short and sweet.

shorten cover letter

Speak in numbers

While this may be more challenging for those who work in a creative field, relaying information in terms of numbers can go a long way toward making professional achievements not only more abridged but more impactful. For example, Forbes suggests instead of saying you’ve “consistently exceeded annual sales goals through strong client management and excellent opportunity identification,” you say, “Completed 2016 at 113% of annual goal.” A change like this helps hiring managers visualize the work you’ve done more vividly than words.

Keep it simple

Speaking of words, make sure your cover letter doesn’t overflow with too many descriptive ones. Adjectives and adverbs are compelling in fiction—but when it comes to cover letters, one usually suffices. You want your message (you’re the best person to hire for the job!) to be heard loud and clear, so don’t bury it in a flurry of “determined and hardworking” or “enthusiastic and eager” sentences. Trust us, you’ll be shocked how many words you can trim down just by revising your use of superfluous filler.

Show by (one or two) examples

You may have  countless examples of how you’re qualified for the job in question—if so, that’s wonderful! Good for you! Just don’t list all of them. Yes, it will be difficult to pare your relevant experiences down to one or two, but it’s better to explain the context behind a couple of moments you’re proud of than to frantically jump from one example to another without any room for explanation. And don’t worry—they also have your resume, which lists all of your experience.

Keep contact information minimal

There was a time not too long ago when people naturally listed all their contact info in a cover letter: home address, email address, home phone number, cell phone number, etc. Nowadays, there’s really no reason to include anything other than your email address and cell phone number. One of these is how your potential employer will contact you. This is probably the easiest (and least painful) way to trim a few lines off your cover letter. And for such a short document, every line counts!

Leave out the basics

Back in the day, listing Microsoft Office or PowerPoint as special skills was actually a thing people did. But no more. It’s largely assumed by everyone in pretty much every industry that you have some handle on basic computer programs, so don’t waste space in your cover letter by listing them. Instead, use the opportunity to mention technical skills and certifications that aren’t common or are extremely specific to the role—and only in the context of how that particular skill or certification would help you in your new position.

Remember, recruiters and hiring managers often take mere minutes (sometimes only seconds) to determine whether a cover letter is good or bad. Don’t let yours be dismissed just because it’s overly long or wordy. If you’re really struggling with the idea of shortening your cover letter because you’re afraid of leaving something out, reassure yourself that both your resume and the interview you’re hoping to score (with your newly abbreviated cover letter!) will fill in any gaps.

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