The Executive Cover Letter

Over the years I have written thousands of cover letters (and intro letters, thank you notes, email blurbs, etc!). Although most are succinct one-pagers at less than 300 words, I do also compose comprehensive 2-page cover letters. I can hear the gasps now! "Hasn't she heard that recruiters have an allergy to reading long letters? And that some don't even bother?"

Of course I've read these kinds of admonishments (I read voraciously to stay on top of potential changes and real changes, and to reliably distinguish between these!).

Here are a few situations when a 2-pager makes sense:

- an executive level letter of interest or introduction. You could also call this a resu-letter as it is sent without a job posting, just as a "howdy-do" to introduce your skills, interests, and value to an employer of choice.

- an application for a "C" level posting. At this level, a 2-pager is almost expected. It all depends on the candidate, on the posted requirements, and the field. In some fields, a few snappy results-focused statements will suffice; in others, snappy and quick doesn't fit the role, the industy, or the person.

- an application to select government postings. These are "read" by a computer first, parsed by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that care not whether the cover letter is one page or more (and whether the resume is three pages or seven!). Government postings often define what must be - MUST BE - in the cover letter. Defy this requirement and you are sure to be rejected by the pre-programmed ATSystem!

Rules such as the one page cover letter may be broken when reason dictates that it's a good idea.

Working to YOUR career's success! - Stephanie

 p.s. did you know that snail-mailed info is more effective? If you are introducing yourself when there is no job posting, don't email, snail-mail!