Cover letters are an essential part of the job hunting and application process.
If you’re applying for a job, you should almost always include a cover letter that you’ve tailored specifically for the position, along with your resume.
However, it can be difficult to know how for sure to format it, which font to use, and particularly, how long it should be.
If your cover letter is too long, it may be overlooked or ignored, as many hiring managers don’t want to waste time reading long-winded self-introductions. If it’s too short, they may think you don’t care too much about the job and that you simply phoned it in.
Luckily, the Resume Companion team knows exactly how long your cover letter should be – down to the word count – no matter if it’s printed, email, or otherwise.
How Long Should Your Cover Letter Be?
Your cover letter should be one page long, or shorter, depending on your relevant qualifications and what kind of experience you can offer the employer. Email cover letters can be even shorter, as employers expect email correspondence to be brief and to the point.
As a general rule, your cover letter should be as short as possible, while ensuring that you’re still including all of the necessary information and sticking to good cover letter format.
In fact, studies have shown that the vast majority of hiring managers tend to prefer cover letters to be between a half page and one page in length.
How Many Words Should a Cover Letter Be?
Unless the employer specifies an exact word count for your cover letter (which is rare!), there is no specific word count you should try to hit.
Instead, focus on making your cover letter between a half page and one page long, while ensuring that you make yourself look like the best fit possible.
If you follow good cover letter format guidelines – keeping your margins around one inch and your font around 12-point size – a one page cover letter should be around 300 words. However, this will vary depending on your particular font, size, and margins, as well as the words you use.
If your cover letter is fewer than 300 words, it’s not a problem unless you didn’t adequately emphasize how your skills and experience could benefit the company.
But if it’s more than 300 words, you may want to think about trimming it down a bit – unless it still fits on one page and you’re certain that every piece of information is necessary.
Cover Letter Paragraphs
A good cover letter should include four separate paragraphs:
While this is the foundation of a great cover letter, feel free to add or remove a paragraph (or even try bullet points!) if the above format doesn’t adequately express your skills and experience.
Email Cover Letter Length
Cover letters sent directly by email (that is, typed into the email body, not added as an attachment) should be much shorter than those made in a separate document.
Nearly everyone receives dozens of emails every day, and most of them either go unread or are quickly dismissed to an endless list of Read emails or to the trash bin. Thus, it’s extremely important that your email cover letter is concise and to the point.
For starters, you can omit the cover letter heading (which includes your name and contact information) and date, as these things will be included in the email automatically.
You can also omit the hiring manager’s name, address, and phone number, and these pieces of information are made somewhat redundant by email.
Finally, the intro paragraph of your email cover letter should be brief and compelling. Due to the nature of email, many hiring managers probably won’t read past the first couple lines before dismissing, so you need to grab their attention immediately.
Try to skip the niceties and get right to the point – who you are, your level of experience, and the job you’re applying for.
Keep It Short
Your cover letter is supposed to complement your resume and fill in the details that aren’t and can’t be included in the resume.
That being said, it is by no means a place to tell your life story.
Do the hiring manager a favor and keep it short – one page or less.
Not only will your cover letter look more professional, it will be more likely to hold the employer’s attention and give you the best shot at landing the job you want.
If you’re having trouble writing a great cover letter, let our fast and easy cover letter builder make you the perfect cover letter in minutes.