A family member asked me to revise their cover letter. Within a minute, I saw the problem.
A big, blob of tiny black text. And long.
We’ve all done it. The epic long, Homer’s Odyssey (which could’ve definitely been shorter) cover letter, report, or article piece. The content is just too long. It plagues even the best of writers.
But it’s not your fault.
Think back to school. Reading East of Eden or academic works. Or writing your research paper that must be 8-10 pages. So, what do you do? Try and cram as many extra words as possible into your sentences to take up the page.
Oh, don’t deny it. I taught.
Over time, we develop a deeply ingrained habit of making things unnecessarily lengthy. And it’s a bad one. Especially in our digital world.
Attention spans are shrinking. People aren’t reading word-for-word or left to right. They scroll and scan from their phones.
To write successful content, you need to keep it short. This is especially crucial for social media but applies to any online content. Anecdotally, I’ve found that the shorter my cover letter, the more likely it is to get read.
I’m not advocating for “caveman” speak. It still needs to make sense. But when you edit you need to cut out extra words, tangents, or additional topics (i.e: if you’re writing tips for bringing home your new kitten, don’t start talking about dogs.).
These have a way of sneaking into our writing. They suck the power out of your copy. With so much content out there competing for attention, readers may scroll by.
Keep it brief.