Cover letters and resumes
Here's more truth...people rarely read cover letters; it's the resume that counts and less is more. Imagine it. I get over 30 resumes every day, that's about 150 per week. Since one of the most valuable things I sell is my time, I'm out to save as much as I can; so I go right to the resume for a quick scan. Here's what I do.
First, I look for bold print that names the companies you've worked for and your respective title. THAT'S ALL. If there's a potential match with the world that I work in, I go back to the top and see where you are -- just as a reference. Next, I go to the end in hopes of finding your education background. And finally, this may surprise you, then and only then will I take the time to read the entire document -- excluding the cover letter. It's my experience that the cover letter is another version of the resume, or at least the highlights -- and I'd prefer to read those in a format that fast and easy on the eyes and my brain...at least what's left of it.
It's another one of those ironies of the world wide web of work. You spend countless hours, draft after draft of resume and cover letter only to now learn it's the steak, not the sizzle that motivates people like myself to call you up for more. Truth be known, the resume is bait and the goal is to get the big fish to bite. Two pages is acceptable, in fact you'll probably need that much space to tell your story AND have enough white space so that when the reader first sees it they're not inundated with what appears to be Version 2.0 of War and Peace.
Drop the cover letter -- resumes are typically e-mailed these days anyway; one or two lines in the body of the e-mail is all that's necessary; spend the time you save doing research...or better still, your job.