I thought the rule of thumb was keep it to one page. I have written a cover letter that is a one page Word document, but had feedback from some of my buddies that it is too long. What do you guys think is appropriate?
it would be appropriate to get new buddies…
If you go over one page, you better have something very good or relevant to say. However, one page should be fine, as long as it isn’t 10 point text with extra narrow margins and a signature at the very very bottom of the page. Check if your friends think your prose is boring. That can make a one pager seem long. I like bullet points to list your strengths, especially if you can line them up with the job description.
Note that the cover letter is lost within about 15min of receipt of it, so make sure the resume tells any story you want told. That said, the cover letter is your unique comment on the company and position currently open. I wouldn’t put any generic listing of strengths in it. I’ve never seen a cover letter longer than one page.
Keep it to one page and 3-4 short paragraphs. I strongly feel that good writing is concise writing and is a big differentiator when it comes to beating the competition and getting the interview.
Cover letters tend to get shorter as you have more and more work experience. My first cover letters in college were like 3/4 of a page, single spaced; now, they’re about 1/2 a page, usually 3 paragraphs.
I keep both cover letter and resume to 1 page, but it’s on neon green paper.
On company details, I generally don’t mention anything specific unless I have spoken to someone from within the department. What type of company specific information do you normally include?
FrankArabia, I think the cover letter is neutral at best unless it contains something specific about the company. I’ve always suggested to candidates that in the cover letter (and I agree that it should be very concise and no more than a page) they say something specific about why they’re interested in this particular company. A cover letter that is a form letter and says nothing specific is no better than “Please see attached”, IMHO. But be careful… True Story: I used to work for a large law firm (200+ lawyers) that included a family law department. Just days after the annual student application deadline passed, our firm acquired a four-lawyer family law firm. The student applications to the small firm ended up on the desk of the chair of our firm’s student committee. Sure enough, one student had applied to both firms, so there were now two applications from her. Her cover letter was a form letter that included the statement: “One of the reasons I have applied to your firm is that I feel I would work well in a firm of that size.” Oops.