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  1. Blog
  2. Applying
  3. May 31, 2024

The Short Cover Letter: What to Include & Why (with Examples)

Short and sweet (and effective)

Woman writing a short cover letter
Photo courtesy of Surface

This article is part of InHerSight's Finding a Job series. Discover our most popular and relevant resources for finding a job fast—at a company that cares as much about your career as you do.

Cover letters, short or long, are increasingly unpopular among job seekers. However, a 2023 survey of 625 hiring managers across the nation found that 60 percent of companies still require cover letters, writes Rebecca Tay, Ph.D. at ResumeGenius. 

While medium and large companies are more likely to require cover letters (72 percent and 69 percent, respectively), nearly half of small businesses (49 percent) do too.


Because hiring managers use those letters to decide which applicants to interview, Tay writes:

  • 49 percent say a strong cover letter can convince them to interview an otherwise weak candidate.

  • 18 percent say a weak cover letter can cause them to throw out the application of an otherwise strong candidate.

  • 33 percent say a good letter can elevate a weak applicant, and a bad letter can hurt a strong applicant.

Read more: 15 Good Character Traits Hiring Managers Love

What’s so great about cover letters?

A cover letter allows you to explain yourself

In a LinkedIn post, Rachel Bradley, executive director at Sisu Youth Services in Oklahoma City, writes: “When your resume shows no direct or even indirect experience with the job to which you are applying, use that short cover letter to simply tell me why you are qualified or even interested. With no experience or explanation, you're wasting my time and yours.”

It’s in your cover letter that you can include referrals, explain resume gaps, or let the recruiter know you’ve done your research on the company you’re applying to.

A cover letter tells the hiring manager why you want to join the company

Ian Siegel, CEO and cofounder of ZipRecruiter, estimates hiring managers spend an average of 20 seconds reviewing a cover letter. They’re looking for the applicant’s reason for wanting to join the company.

“The golden rule of applying to a job is showing specific interest,” he says. “A lot of people write cover letters to describe their background and explain why they’re a fit for the role. But I would start my cover letter with the sentence, ‘I’m so excited to apply to this job because ... ’ and fill in the blank about the business.”

Read more: What to Write to a Hiring Manager: Example Messages & Tips to Help You Get a Response

Benefits of a short cover letter

Executive career strategist, business brand promoter and CEO of Career Trend, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, tells InHerSight that “in today’s attention-deprived job market, a short(er) cover letter often is the default.” She notes that “recruiters and resume screeners regularly lament the burden of cover letters.”

“An energy-filled and targeted letter aimed at the reader’s needs can serve to bring your story from being stuck at the virtual bottom of a digital resume pile to the top.” 

Of course, “brevity shouldn't be the primary goal when learning how to write a cover letter,” Kellie Hanna, a career advice expert, says. 

“Instead, you should focus on making a case to an employer that you are the right person for the role. A cover letter allows you to highlight your most relevant skills and experience, showcase your communication skills, and prove to an employer that you are willing to go the extra mile.”

Read more: Ask a Recruiter: How Can I Apply to Jobs More Efficiently?

Must-haves in your short cover letter

Each cover letter you write must be unique, tailored for the company and position. Include keywords from the job ad, which can be helpful if the recruiter is using applicant tracking software. Make the letter skimmable by writing concise, focused paragraphs, and be sure to include at least one achievement relevant to the role you’re applying for.

Hanna says that all cover letters—whether long or short—should be written using a professional tone and must contain the following elements:

  • A header that contains your name and contact information. This information should match that on your resume.

  • The date.

  • A salutation, ideally with the hiring manager’s name.

  • An opening paragraph that introduces you and concisely tells the hiring manager why you are the best fit for the job.

  • A paragraph that explains why you’re interested in the job and which of your past achievements are most relevant to the role.

  • A closing paragraph in which you reiterate your interest, thank the hiring manager for reviewing your credentials and invite them to contact you.

  • A professional sign-off, such as “Sincerely” or “Thank you.” 

Read more: How to Name Drop in a Cover Letter

Barrett-Poindexter explains that “with hundreds of applicants vying for a single position, setting yourself apart with crisp messaging that underlines your value can kindle the right, interview-generating reaction. It can also bring forward one to two key points that match you to the recruiter’s or screener’s needs, either before or after they have scanned your resume.”

She adds that the well-researched and written short cover letter will include these must-have absolutes:

  • Salutation addressed to the name of the recruiter, influential gate-keeper, or decision-maker in the hiring process.

  • A strong hint of proof that you know what the industry and company to which you are applying struggles with and how you will help solve their problems.

  • Evidence that you understand the hiring company's mission and values and how you align with both.

  • Link to your LinkedIn profile and any related portfolios (including your own personally branded website).

  • Enough content to provide value, but not so much that you exceed two to three paragraphs, or one-half of a page.

Read more: 21 Cover Letter Tips to Make Writing Quick & Easy

Samples of short cover letters

Hanna provides the following sample of a short cover letter, saying it’s “concise, focusing on key achievements and skills relevant to the job. It invites the reader to consider the applicant's qualifications without going into excessive detail, which is perfect for situations where brevity is appreciated.”

Dear [name of hiring manager],

I am writing to express my interest in the Social Media Coordinator position at [Company Name], as advertised on [where you found the job listing]. With over two years of experience in social media management and content creation, I have developed a keen understanding of digital marketing trends and effective communication strategies, specifically within the tech industry.

At my previous position with [Previous Company], I increased our social media engagement by over 50% within six months through targeted content campaigns and analytics-driven strategy adjustments. My graphic design background and my digital marketing certification from [Institution or Course] enhance my ability to produce visually appealing and impactful content.

I am excited about the opportunity to bring my unique talents to the innovative team at [Company Name]. I am eager to contribute to your success by increasing engagement and building a strong community presence online.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to discussing how I can contribute to your team. I am available for an interview at your earliest convenience and can be reached by telephone or email.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Read more: 7 Ways to Start a Cover Letter That Will Set You Apart

Barrett-Poindexter explains that “a one- or two-line cover letter will only serve to introduce the role you are applying for and maybe provide one hook as to your value, but will fall short of providing any kind of meaningfully tailored message. Conversely, anything written longer than a half page likely will bog down the hurried reader.” 

She provides this sample of a short cover letter:

Dear [Name]:

My passion for marketing energized a seven-year career at ABC Company where unrelenting deadlines melded with premier digital, social and product collaborations that contributed to millions in new revenue and profit.

With the wind-down of ABC, I am excited to explore how my exposure to the latest marketing trends can benefit your company. As you can see from the attached resume, my experiences as a strategic marketing leader mirror many of the requirements of the Marketing Communications Manager role, including integrating AI technologies that bolster marketing efficiencies and ROI. 

As well, I love the mission underpinning your objectives and operations and am intrigued by the possibility of helping you navigate your next evolution.

Please feel free to contact me at [phone number] or [email address].

Thank you!


[Your Name]

PS – You may find a portfolio of my digital marketing impact at [link].

Read more: Didn’t Get the Job? Here's How to Stay on Their Radar (& When to Reapply)

So, how do you know if you need to write a short cover letter instead of a longer one?

“The decision to submit a short cover letter versus a regular-length one often depends on the specific application, industry norms, specific requests for information in the job ad, and the complexity of your background as it relates to the job position,” says Hanna. 

If a cover letter is optional, you may wish to submit one anyway. Even a short cover letter will let you highlight a skill specific to the role which isn’t sufficiently emphasized in your resume. You’ll also be able to mention a distinct point about the company you’re applying to, showing the hiring manager you’ve spent time researching the organization. The few extra minutes it takes you to write a short cover letter could prove extremely valuable.

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