Covering letters refer to official correspondence and particularly job applications. Besides applying in response to job advertisements that has been a custom since ages. Any set of documents being forwarded by post or email would contain some such introductory letter that gives the details of what is enclosed or attached. An application for a passport would attach or enclose a list of required documents.
How long should a cover letter be?
Considering the function of the cover letter by way of introduction to what is to come later in the correspondence, it is a short message. Since short and long are comparative terms, let the cover letter run into no more than half a page or a single page. Yet, let it not be merely two lines long, though that may suit the purpose, according to the situation. Too short a cover letter may create the impression of carelessness or negligence while one that is over a page long would be considered superfluous.
The length in terms of words of a generic cover letter would normally run into 250 words to fit half a page or 500 words to fill a single page in 12 points in a clearly legible font like Arial perhaps. How many paragraphs would that single page contain? Two paragraphs for a half page and four paragraphs for the full page are perfectly justified. Make sure that white spaces are left between paragraphs besides the one-inch margins on all four sides. An uncluttered impression of white space would create the neatness expected in official correspondence.
Research reveals that the preference is for the half page cover letter, favored by 43.7% of the respondents while the full page cover letter was liked by 12.6%. Certainly more reason to make the cover letter short and sweet with edited language.
Who to address the cover letter to?
If the cover letter accompanies job applications, it would be addressed probably to the Human Resources Officer or Department according to the specifications in the advertisement. Some companies do mention do’s and don’ts when it comes to job application formats.
How to begin and end the cover letter
Cover letters by email would mention the job, company name or other relevant official matter in the subject line along with the applicant’s name. Being specific and avoiding wordiness, write the first introductory paragraph mentioning where the job advertisement was seen. Depending upon the number of remaining paragraphs, reveal more information that suits the job and the experience gained.
Descriptive sentences would communicate the job worthiness of the candidate. Concluding with a sentence regarding career development that expresses sheer determination would set the scene well for the interview, hopefully, granted, based on the letter.
Creating that positive impression is the task at hand because HR managers often merely glance at the letters. If the first few lines catch the interest, it may be selected, while dozens of possibly good candidates are consigned to the rubbish bin. A hard-hitting, but polite wording that highlights achievements and reflects an indomitable will has chances of success to make it to the interview stage, maybe online. The STAR or situation, task, action, and the result is one strategy that might work. Make it a positive wording as if determined to succeed.