A standard cover letter takes up one page. Most of them fill the page entirely.
Well, because commonly held job search wisdom says that a cover letter should not be longer than a page. But that doesn’t mean that filling a page is a good idea either.
But, but, but…. job seekers have so much to tell a hiring manager.
Well, in theory, the core messages of their career story should be in their resume already. The cover letter is more about adding some personality and a sense of their “why.” And in a world of short attention spans, job seekers are increasingly opting for shorter cover letters. Our short cover letter samples prove that it can be done.
In this blog, we explore short cover letter samples and why they might be preferable. Be warned – crafting your 100-150 words is a mammoth task. We consider:
- What do hiring managers think about short cover letters?
- What is the structure of a short cover letter sample?
- When shouldn’t I use a short cover letter?
- How much personality is too much personality?
- Short cover letter samples and tips
If you want to be truly memorable, keep it brief.
Standing out sometimes simply means being different. When your cover letter is half of the length of all the other candidates, you set yourself apart as being different. Whether that is “good” different or “bad” different will depend on the content of your job application, but different is a useful category to put yourself in. If the hiring manager views you as being the same as everyone else, that won’t end well for your application.
What do hiring managers think about short cover letters?
Some of the best sales pitches and slogans are a matter of just a few words.
You do not need to fill a page with writing to win someone over to your point of view.
We are all used to these pithy slogans, so when we read a long (and sometimes rambling) piece of content there is a tendency to lose the thread halfway through.
What were they trying to say, again?
Hiring managers spend an average of seven seconds looking at each new resume. Chances are, they don't spend much longer reviewing cover letters.
That is why many hiring managers may be subconsciously impressed by a short cover letter. It is clear that the candidate will have plenty to say about their career, but the ability to focus on one or two things shows just how well they understand their value. And, also, the hiring manager will appreciate the mental breathing space. They may well spend the same time reading the letter. The blank spaces will simply hint that it is time to think.
As long as your resume is incredibly impressive and relevant, there is little risk in sending a shorter cover letter. You will see with our short cover letter samples that there are many situations where they may be appropriate.
You don’t have to mention your previous jobs at all. If you are writing a short cover letter, you might elect not to mention your previous jobs.
Your resume will give all that factual detail, so maybe just focus on other aspects of your personality and motivations.
Structure of a short cover letter sample
Very few short cover letters will be sent as a document.
The majority of the ten short cover letter samples in this blog will likely be sent via email or a direct message on social media. Their purpose is to catch the attention, not engage in a detailed sales story. If the employer requests a cover letter that they will store on their ATS system, it is best to write a full page to maximize the keyword possibilities.
ATS software does not like short cover letters, so beware.
Even though the short cover letter will not always be a formal document, much of the normal cover letter rules apply in terms of the structure – just in a miniaturized version.
How to format a short cover letter? The format of the short cover letter depends on the nature of the contents, but every cover letter should include your contact details, the date, a suitable salutation, two short paragraphs, a call to action and a polite sign-off.
10 Short cover letter samples with tips
For the purposes of these cover letter examples, we’ll leave out the header with the contact details, the date and the signature section – an email might also contain a link to your LinkedIn profile.
While these short cover letter samples are intended to spark inspiration, the charm of a short cover letter lies in the fact that they should be hyper-personalized. Copying a template will not serve you well.
1. Short cover letter sample (just the basics)
Even if a cover letter is short and simple, it still needs to be effective. In the sample below, you’ll see that the applicant made a connection to the company and used key success metrics to offer insight on the value they could bring.
Dear Mr. Gantley,
I am writing to see whether you need a talented mathematician in your marketing team? My former colleague Hannah Wilson mentioned that you may be hiring soon.
I have used my data science degree to outstanding effect in my marketing career thus far, diving deep into customer behaviors and seeing profit uplifts of 125% on certain projects.
I know that I will add value as you seek to increase your 12% market share. My expertise in lead targeting and customer segmentation will help you to plot the right path. I would love the opportunity of an interview to discuss my bespoke marketing analytics platform.
2. Short cover letter example (speculative)
When you are applying for a position speculatively it is especially important not to take up too much of the hiring manager’s time. Convey enough value to pique their interest in a short cover letter so that they explore further on your LinkedIn profile.
Dear Ms. Richards,
Having just moved to Seattle, I am looking to continue my five-year career in customer service. I was in the top 5% of call handlers in terms of call volume and customer satisfaction at my previous employer and I thrive on resolving customer complaints.
My hospitality degree adds to my understanding of the industry and gives me a sound appreciation of the nuances in any situation. I moved into a team leader role towards the end of my last position and this is a career path that I would hope to continue with my next employer.
I know that you are not advertising for roles currently, but I feel that I would be a strong member of the team should you wish to explore the possibility at any point.
3. Short cover letter sample (for when you know the hiring manager)
When you know the hiring manager there is little point in writing a long cover letter. It is true that other hiring decision makers may read it, but your contact will tell them all about you. Respect their time and remind them of your value as briefly as possible.
It was a pleasure to catch up at the conference the other day. I was fascinated to hear about the role and feel that it would be a potential fit in terms of what I am looking for. I know that my market research skills will certainly prove beneficial.
I would welcome the opportunity to send over my resume to the hiring manager and would love to hear more information when it is available. I understand that you will be running a full recruitment process for the role and do not expect any special treatment. From what you told me about the company culture, I think that I would enjoy working there.
4. Short cover letter sample (short story)
All successful job seekers incorporate an element of storytelling about their career journey. A cover letter needs to only hint at the essence of their journey to get a hiring manager interested, and for some candidates that is all they want in their short cover letter.
Dear Mr. Green,
Having cycled across the United States on your bike for charity in 2015 and not experienced one serious mechanical issue, it has been a long-held ambition to work within your procurement department. Only the best parts go into making a RollEasy bike – my ten years of automotive and cycling sourcing experience will help me to make my difference.
I helped a stationary bike manufacturer save 19% and consolidate from 24 suppliers to 18 within a two-year period. I know that cost savings are on your agenda and understand how to achieve them without compromising on quality – I would love to explain how during a potential interview.
5. Short cover letter example (no experience)
A cover letter is required when you don’t have experience, but this creates a conundrum. Do you pen a longer cover letter to go deep into transferable skills or keep it short and hope that the hiring manager will see the value in your resume? Here is the short option.
Dear Ms. Hinch,
Having graduated from college and spent a year in a call center, I am now ready to take on a customer-facing role in retail. I am accustomed to dealing with customers, resolving complaints, and ensuring satisfaction – skills that would enable success at Parath.
I worked in hospitality during my studies and am used to working in a fast-paced and task-driven environment with a wide team of colleagues depending on you. I would welcome the opportunity of an interview to explore any opportunities.
6. Short cover letter sample (internship)
It is perfectly acceptable for interns not to have a whole lot of experience, so a short cover letter that is packed with motivation and low on accomplishments is absolutely fine. No one wants to hire an intern who talks too much – show that you value succinct communication.
Dear Mr. Bennett,
I am applying for the role as a summer intern with your PR firm because I wish to leverage the promotional skills that I have learned from building my social media following (64k across 3 channels) into a broader direction.
Much of my writing and content editing skills should prove useful. I enclose a selection of my most popular posts and compare them with some of your recent campaigns. I believe that the styles are somewhat similar, and I would be fascinated to see the metrics behind why you do what you do.
I am driven by data and wish to begin a creative career with data at the very center. The opportunity for a chat to discuss the position would be a dream.
7. Short cover letter example (new graduate)
In a similar way to an internship, a fresh graduate won’t have so much of a career story to tell, so while they can leave that to their one-page resume, their short cover letter can be laser-focused on their personality and ambitions. Just a taste of how awesome you are.
Dear Dr. Bradley,
As a recent biotech graduate, I am looking for my first role as a laboratory assistant. I saw that your new lab was hiring at all levels and wanted to see whether you were welcoming applications for recent graduates?
I have spent over 9 months in laboratories over the course of my studies, and am proficient in the use of all relevant technology. My safety record is impeccable, and I thrive in a controlled and high-pressure environment.
When shouldn’t I use a short cover letter?
If the job description stipulates a one-page cover letter, or even gives a suggested word count, then you would be best served to avoid a short cover letter.
From a keywords point of view, if you are filling in an online cover letter in ATS software a short cover letter will also not be the optimal choice. You have to play the game.
8. Short cover letter sample (window onto socials)
Sometimes a visual can do the job better than words can. In that case, you may want to point an employer to your portfolio, website or social media. This short cover letter sample can be used to introduce yourself and encourage the hiring manager to explore your work.
Dear Ms. Kramer,
I saw your message on LinkedIn the other day that you are about to embark on a search for a new publishing assistant and I wanted to share the details of my social media activity to illustrate my knowledge base and publishing network. I understand that the ability to network within the industry is a key component of the role.
I hope that the links below demonstrate the extent of my potential, and I would be delighted to send over my resume if you like what you see.
9. Short cover letter sample (bullet accomplishments)
Some people choose a short cover letter because they want to go with an impactful format. This short cover letter sample is dominated by the bullet points. If there is little other text in the letter, you can be sure that they will be read. Just make sure that they are impressive.
Dear Mrs. Wilson,
I felt that it may be most prudent to briefly share some of my achievements to see whether it is worth sending over my resume for the project manager role?
- Managed project teams of 5-45 across consumer industries
- Worked on logistics, merchandising, marketing and buying projects
- Achieved average sales uplifts of between 8-25% across 30+ product areas
- Trained internal employees on the latest project management techniques
I would be available for a potential interview at short notice should you wish to discuss further. I have a wealth of excellent references to share should it get to that point.
10. Short cover letter sample (start up)
Some start-ups have so many applicants that a brief and focused cover letter may be the only way to stand out from the deluge of job search correspondence. Sharing your personality in a start-up application is particularly important – it’s all about the culture.
As a long term fan of Hussle, I have been waiting for you to make your next move in the market with interest. Having worked as a financial director for two relatively established FinTech startups, I yearn to start with a small team setting out from day one.
A friend told me that you were looking for a finance person with deep experience to join your first team and I would be honored if you would consider my application. I will be at the conference next week and wondered if you would be open to having a coffee? I include my LinkedIn profile which hopefully includes enough detail on my accomplishments.
Choose concise words. Some examples of how to keep the word count down and get the hiring manager to focus on the core messages within your short cover letter:
“Because” and not “due to the fact that”
“About” and not “concerning the matter of”
“Some” and not “a number of”
“During” and not “in the process of”
“Although” and not “regardless of the fact that”
- There are at least 10 situations where a short cover letter might work well
- Hiring managers welcome direct messages (if they are short)
- If you have a great resume, you can do something different with the cover letter
- Many short cover letters are sent by email (include contact details at the end)
- If the job description asks for a formal cover letter, write 300-350 words
- Use concise language wherever possible in your short cover letter
- Weave a story that shows off your personality!
- Have a look at our other cover letter examples and build your own cover letter.