In this weekly series, “MBA Career Advice,” our friends at MBA Career Coaches will be dispensing invaluable advice to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews.
Polonius is famed for saying, “brevity is the soul of wit.” Well, in the MBA job hunting world, “brevity is the soul of a compelling cover letter.” Forgive our editorializing the bard and making the quote less brief and also less witty. But this illustrates how it applies to you as a job applicant.
We are sure that you have sifted through resumes and cover letters at some point in your career. As you worked through that stack of papers, did you stop and read the letters at all? Maybe one or two, if the candidate was incredibly compelling – maybe not even in that case? If you are applying for a job that you know many are pursuing, then you should try to keep your cover letter as short as possible because… 1) No one reads cover letters! And 2) if they do read a few, they read the brief ones!!!
Here is the format that you should follow.
- Paragraph one: Here is why I am interested in your position
- Paragraph two: Here are my qualifications told in concise but concrete and vivid terms
- Paragraph three: Here are next steps
Just because your cover letter should be brief, that does not mean that it is unimportant or should be ignored. You still want to convey critical information. You still need to spell and punctuate correctly. You still need to make sure the correct company name is on the page. And you still need to treat it as a potential opportunity to differentiate yourself. You just don’t want to convey so much information that you overwhelm an already taxed reader.