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Published: 2020/10/08 | Updated: 2020/10/02

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be

We know that cover letters are a critical component of the job application process. When applying for a job, you should always send a cover letter with your resume unless the hiring manager specifically asks you not to. This is because your cover letter is your opportunity to make a great first impression, detailing your skills and embodying your personality. That being said, one thing that is often less clear to those who is writing a cover letter is how long a cover letter should be. After all, if your cover letter is too short it may come off as generic and lacking in effort and if your cover letter is too long, you may come across as unorganized or unfocused. This means that you have to find that perfect balance when it comes to creating a cover letter that impresses a potential employer. 

Remember, potential employers only spend a certain amount of time reading your cover letter. You can make the most of that time by including a brief but compelling description of both your qualifications and unique experiences- all without coming off as repetitive. Today, BuzzCV will be telling you exactly how long a cover letter should be as well as offering some helpful methods you can use to reach the correct length of a cover letter. Let’s get started!

How Long Should Your Cover Letter Be?

Put simply, as a general rule, cover letters should typically be between half a page and one page in length. According to a Saddleback College survey, 70 percent of employers wanted a cover letter of less than a full page and about 25 percent said that shorter was better. Your cover letter should be limited to about 4 paragraphs and each should open with a concise topic sentence and should close with an attention-grabbing final thought to keep the reader interested in you. Your cover letter should also include some vital components including:

  • Date and contact information
  • Greeting
  • Opening paragraph
  • Middle paragraph
  • Closing paragraph
  • Complimentary closing and signature

So how can you make sure that your cover letter is exactly the right length to impress a potential employer without wasting their time with repetitive details? In the next section, BuzzCV will be highlighting 7 different methods you can use to ensure that your cover letter is exactly the right length.

How to Reach the Correct Length For Your Cover Letter

Using these strategies, you can make sure that your cover letter wows any potential employer, representing you as the great employee that you are! Read on to make sure you know how to reach the correct length for your cover letter.

Always Check for Any Length Requirements

Before getting started on creating your cover letter, you should always check to see if the employer has specified any preferred length requirements. Sometimes, employers will include specific instructions regarding their preferences for your cover letter and resume. Always pay attention to these instructions! After all, you don’t want to come off as someone who can’t follow simple instructions when applying for a job. 

Some employers may give you a cover letter word limit or provide a specific writing prompt with questions that they want you to answer when applying. Make sure you identify whether or not a potential employer has set specific instructions and follow them!

Embrace the White Space

Believe it or not, white space makes your cover letter much more enjoyable for a hiring manager to read. For this reason, you should always break up your text by adding a blank line in between each paragraph and set 1-inch margins on each side. With lots of white space, your cover letter will look organized, well-formatted, and more pleasant to read than it would if you just filled it up with a wall of text. Less is more when it comes to a professional cover letter!

Don’t Become Too Focused on Hitting a Specific Word Count

If you have found yourself struggling with the question, “how many words should by cover letter be?”, you’re getting too stuck on the details. Unless the employer has specified otherwise, between 250 and 400 words is the right amount for a cover letter. With this length, you should be able to fill roughly half of a page or one full page if you are using 12-point font. At the same time, you’ll be leaving plenty of room for the correct margins and spacing. What’s most important here is to not get too wrapped up in the word count when creating your cover letter. Instead, focus on the content. Simply use the word count as a general guideline and focus on the substance of what you have to say.

Keep Your Cover Letter to 4 Paragraphs

As we have specified, generally your cover letter should be somewhere between a half a page and one full page. Using this space, you should divide the content of your cover letter into 3-4 short paragraphs that can be read in roughly 10 seconds or less. Remember, you want to represent yourself professionally but you also don’t want to take up too much of a hiring manager’s time! 

In these paragraphs, include a strong topic sentence and write just enough to prove why you are the best fit for the job role you are applying for. You should also use this space to display your enthusiasm to apply for the job and include relevant examples of why you’re the best fit for the position. Represent yourself thoroughly but don’t fill up 3 or 4 pages of text! A hiring manager is unlikely to keep reading for that long anyway.

Make Sure Your Paragraphs Are Focused and That Your Sentences Are Short

For the maximum impact, each of your 4 paragraphs should be well-focused on a singular idea. Lead with a strong topic sentence. This sentence will act to inform the reader what the paragraph that follows will be about. Next, be sure to add several short yet descriptive sentences that support the main idea that you have highlighted in your topic sentence. Finally, wrap up each of the 4 paragraphs with a concluding sentence that is attention-grabbing or a sentence that recaps the main idea that you presented in your topic sentence.

Here are a few examples of how to structure your cover letter paragraphs correctly:

  • Topic sentence: One of the factors that really attracted me to this role is that [Company Name] values helping the community and providing the best customer experience to its customers.
  • Descriptive sentences: In my spare time, I run administrative training workshops for the youth of our community. In these workshops, I serve as a mentor and teach the basics of an administrative job role.
  • Concluding Sentence: As I grow in my career, applying my skills to assist others and make a larger impact on the world has become crucial and I believe this role with your company would give me that opportunity.

Include Relevant and Impactful Examples

The main goal of your cover letter should always be to provide highly relevant examples of why you are the best choice for the job role you are applying for. You should always look at the job description to get an idea of which of your qualifications and experiences you should include in your cover letter. Always match your skills to those that the employer is looking for in their ideal employee. Expand upon those qualifications by citing your most recent and impactful accomplishments in previous positions. 

Trim It Down If Needed

After drafting your cover letter, always take the time to proofread to identify any instances of grammatical errors or typos. In doing so, you should also determine whether or not you need to trim it down, focusing yourself a bit more. You can also have friends and family read over your cover letter and offer suggestions of things that you can omit to keep your content to the specified length. Always leave in your most impressive achievements but consider deleting wordy language or unnecessary details. Again, cover letters should never extend beyond one page- even for the most experienced candidates.

Summary

In summary, a professional cover letter should always be between half a page and one full page in length- no more and no less. To present yourself in the best possible light, stick to this general rule of thumb. You should also remember to follow the following tips when creating your cover letter to ensure you remain at the right length:

  • Always Check for Any Length Requirements: Always follow the instructions given by a hiring manager!
  • Embrace the White Space: Remember, white space is good and makes your cover letter more pleasant to read!
  • Don’t Become Too Focused on Hitting a Specific Word Count: Instead of focusing on word count, focus on the content of your cover letter. You can always trim things down later!
  • Keep Your Cover Letter to 4 Paragraphs: Keep your cover letter formatted in an organized, concise manner.
  • Make Sure Your Paragraphs Are Focused and That Your Sentences Are Short: Refrain from being repetitive or using unnecessary details. Always get right down to the point in your cover letter.
  • Include Relevant and Impactful Examples: Use highly-relevant examples of your previous accomplishments to present to a potential employer why you are the best choice for their company.
  • Trim It Down If Needed: Take the time to proofread your cover letter and take out any wordy language or unnecessary details to keep it at the desired length.

Create the Perfect Cover Letter With BuzzCV’s Free Cover Letter Templates!

Now that you know how long a cover letter should be, it’s time for some extra help in the process of creating the perfect cover letter from BuzzCV! 

At BuzzCV, we offer a variety of cover letter templates that all but guarantee that you will land the job you want. Using our attractive, professional cover letter templates and knowledge of how to create a cover letter and resume that shows off your skills and value as an employee, you have the power to get hired quickly for the job that you want!

Check out our cover letter templates and register as a member for free today! As a member, you’ll have access to:

Use the tips outlined above to keep your cover letter to the right length and craft a professional, winning cover letter with BuzzCV’s cover letter templates!

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