How Long Should a Cover Letter Be

Last week, I was helping a reader with her cover letter, and she asked if multiple paragraphs would deter the recipient from reading the whole thing.

Not at all!

No, hand-writing your cover letter is weird. Just send an email.

You absolutely should break your email up into small, digestible paragraphs. A big block of text looks like a novel; short, punchy paragraphs look like a script. We’re talking three lines or less.

But does that mean your cover letter can just ramble on and on, as long as the paragraphs are short? Once again, not at all!

A cover letter isn’t much more than an introduction to your resume, which is the thing your potential employer is really going to look at. There’s also room to highlight some stuff that might get buried in there. For example, if you’ve worked with one of the show’s producers before, you probably ought to mention that.

But keep the email brief enough that it fits on one screen. The coordinator or AD you’re writing to shouldn’t have to scroll down to get from your greeting to your salutation.

I do recommend that people include their references in the cover letter, rather than saying “references available on request;” it says everyone time. I put those after the signature line, though, because they’re only important if the coordinator is actually considering you for the job.

It’s funny that, while I’m preaching succinctness, my SEO plugin is telling me this post needs to be longer. That’s just dumb. I’m trying to lead by example here, but I’m getting dinged on search engines for it? That’s ridiculous. This, here, is exactly the kind of thing you don’t want to do in your cover letter. I mean, look at how long and rambling this paragraph is? And it stands out from the rest of the article by going on for five lines. No, wait, six. That’s just too many.

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One Response

  1. Cover letter? Never heard of one! (Kidding, that was a joke). I bet that’s the difference between office and set PAs? I’ve never been an office PA, but I know that there’s no need for a formal cover letter for PAs on set.

    Sure, the email body should have an introductory paragraph introducing yourself to appear more professional, and not just a blank email with an attachment, but anything after that is too much.

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