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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be [Ideal Cover Letter Length]

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be [Ideal Cover Letter Length]

How long should a cover letter be is one of life’s mysteries. Until you read this guide. Discover the best cover letter length, no matter what job you’re applying for.

Picture it, you’ve crafted the perfect cover letter for that job application. Your writing skills would put Jane Austen to shame. But—

 

If it’s too short, you’ve undersold yourself. Too long and time-poor recruiters won’t even read it.

 

All that hard work will end up in the bin next to the remains of the chicken and avocado wrap they just had for lunch.

 

But what if you could discover the Goldilocks zone with a cover letter length that’s just right?

 

Interested? Then let’s dive right in.

 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your CV. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

 

Create your cover letter now

 

sample cv and cover letter set

Sample Cover Letter for a CV—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

 

And when you've finished looking at how long a cover letter should be, take a look at our other guides:

 

 

Ideal Cover Letter Length in a Nutshell

 

A cover letter should be between half a page and one page long. Divide the page into 3–4 short paragraphs and by word count, your covering letter should be 250–300 words, depending on your experience.

 

Bear in mind what a cover letter is for. It introduces you as a candidate and needs to grab the recruiter’s attention, showing them how the company will benefit from hiring you.

 

Also, consider that recruiters get 75 applications for every vacancy. They just don’t have the time to read more. So you need to strike a balancing act between cover letter length and making sure you’ve included enough information to ensure their interest is piqued. A survey carried out by Saddleback College revealed 70% of employers preferred a half-page cover letter or took “the shorter the better” approach.

 

Here are those numbers again for reference.

 

Best Cover Letter Length

 

  • Page count: 0.5–1
  • Paragraph count: 3–4
  • Word count: 250–300

 

And here’s an example of a cover letter with the ideal page, paragraph and word count.

 

Example of a Cover Letter With the Perfect Length

 

how long should a cover letter be

Your CV needs to be the right length too. Read more: How Long Should a CV Be? Best Page Length

 

Now for some tips on how to achieve that.

 

How to Keep Your Cover Letter Short and Sweet

 

Think of your knowledge and experience as a big pot of tasty chicken soup. A good cover letter boils that down to a super-concentrated stock cube. Here’s how to do it.

 

Don’t Stress About Word Count

 

How many words should a cover letter be? Typically, the cover letter word count is 250-300. Do yourself a favour and don’t count every word. Let your cover letter formatting do that for you. 

 

Follow these cover letter layout rules.

  • Choose a clear CV font in 11–12 point size.
  • Set one-inch margins.
  • Set spacing to 1 or 1.15.

 

With those settings, 250 words will fill roughly half a page. No need to count each and every one.

 

One exception to this rule. If the job advert clearly states a word limit then double-check that you’ve met it. Failing to follow instructions in a job application is a one-way road to rejection.

 

Do Stick to 3–4 Paragraphs

 

You’ll find it much easier to craft that nugget of job-winning brilliance if you stick to a clear structure. Here’s how.

  • First paragraph—introduce yourself. Your cover letter opening has to show passion for the company and the role and share a standout accomplishment that proves you’re just what the company is looking for.
  • Second and third paragraphs—show how the company will benefit from hiring you. Don’t just rehash your CV, or list your skills. Show is the operative word here and the best way of showing is to use numbered achievements to show why you’re truly the best candidate for the role.
  • Fourth paragraph—finish with a call to action. In your cover letter ending, reiterate your passion for the role and the company, showing why you think the role is perfect for you. Then ask the recruiter to contact you to discuss further.

 

Use that framework and you’ll have a cover letter that proves good things come in small packages.

 

Be PAR For The Course

 

When writing about your achievements stick to the PAR formula. Problem, Action, Result. Here’s an example.

 

Overhauled an underperforming sales team (Problem) by introducing new employee incentives, improving motivation (Action), resulting in a 30 percent increase in sales within one quarter. (Result)

 

With the right structure, you can pack everything into as small a space as possible.

 

Stay on Target

 

Keep your cover letter length down by choosing your content carefully and target it to the job you’re applying for. Before you start writing, read the job advert mindfully and note the most important skills and duties for the role.

 

Then cherry-pick the achievements in your CV that’ll be most applicable and expand on those. With a little preparation, you’ll ensure you keep your cover letter relevant and concise

 

Now that you know how long a cover letter should be you can write it in our builder. Here’s a sample.

 

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your CV will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

 

matching set of cv and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Get your cover letter format right too. Read more here: How to Format a Cover Letter [Examples & Step-by-Step Guide]

 

 

Key Takeaway

 

Here’s how long a cover letter should be:

  • Page count: 0.5–1
  • Paragraph count: 3–4
  • Word count: 250–300

 

And remember to use that space wisely. Show why you’re the best candidate for this company and this job.

 

Still struggling to slim down your cover letter? Got any tips to share? Any questions at all, give us a shout in the comments section. We’re happy to help.

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Jacques Buffett, CPRW
Jacques, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), is a career expert who has published almost 200 articles on Zety. His insights and advice have been published by LinkedIn, Forbes, MSN, Yahoo!, Business Insider, AOL, U.S. News, and other top news outlets. He also has extensive professional experience in people management and recruitment.

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