Do you want to know what the perfect length of a cover letter is? What is the ideal number of words that a cover letter should have? And how many paragraphs should you include? If you are looking for answers to these and more cover letter questions, you are in the right place.
The quick answer is that a cover letter should never be longer than a page, 400 words, or six paragraphs.
However, if you want to dive deeper into the cover letter nuances and become a real expert, you are in the right place. So, if you want to learn in detail how to write the perfect cover letter of a perfect length, just keep reading.
For more general information about cover letters, go and have a look at the first article from our series Cover Letter Guide: What is the Cover Letter. There, you will find a definition of what a cover letter is, what makes it different from a letter of motivation, and a short guide on how to write a great cover letter.
What is the ideal cover letter length for 2023?
When it comes to cover letters, the longer, the better does not apply. Even if you have years of expertise and you worked extremely hard on gathering professional skills and experiences — and now you want to show it off all in detail on four pages — don’t.
Sometimes, less is more. This is the case for a good cover letter. It is crucial to highlight the experiences that are truly relevant to the advertised position. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to talk about your skills and achievements in more detail once you get the interview.
Rather, think of a cover letter as a tasteful, comprehensive, short advertisement. You want to catch the attention of a hiring manager and make it clear that you are a highly experienced professional fit for the role. Yet, at the same time, you don’t want to bore and overwhelm the person who is making the selection in the first round of the hiring process.
It is important to realize that in large companies, the hiring manager and the HR department have a very short time to go through your application. On average, per one vacancy, there are up to 250 applicants. This means you must make your cover letter stand out from the crowd – but also be easy to read.
What follows are the tips on how to do it!
Read the instructions
Always make sure you read the employers’ instructions properly. In many vacancy announcements, there is a clear list of what is required from an applicant. Often, these also indicate the expected length and form of a cover letter.
If specific regulations are not included, don’t worry. In this case, you can go for the standardized version of a cover letter.
Junior vs Senior
If you are at the start of your career and are applying for a junior position where it is expected to have a lack of practical experience, writing around 200 words is perfectly acceptable. A cover letter for an internship can be equally long. If you don’t have prior experience, you can focus on your inner motivation, education, and extra-curricular activities.
For an experienced candidate, the word count can be doubled. However, it really shouldn’t exceed 400 words in any scenario – unless specifically requested. At the same time, a cover letter should never exceed 1 page. If you do so, you completely disobey all the rules of this genre, and it won't work to your advantage.
While this length may sound too short, and you may feel tempted to write more about many of your professional accomplishments, it may eliminate you from the selection process. Being selective and cutting straight to the point makes you a better candidate as opposed to one who writes their whole life story.
Career vs Academic cover letter
The rules listed in the previous paragraph are almost universally true when we speak of a career cover letter.
However, an academic cover letter is conventionally longer. If you are wondering how long an academic cover letter should be, know that the standard length is one page and a half. On the other hand, it is never longer than two pages.
Cover letter heading length
The same cover letter rules apply here, too. A short, simple, and catchy heading will get you far.
Do not exceed two sentences; one is advisable. Either use your full name or a catchphrase, such as: “Why am I the best for the role of XY”. However, do this only when you are sure that the company and the position that you are interested in aren't too formal.
How long should the first paragraph be
This paragraph is to capture the attention of the reader. It does not have to be longer than two or three sentences. State who you are, where and how you found the opportunity, and why you are interested in it. Do this in a catchy way, though! If you heard about the position from a person in common, do not hesitate to mention their name.
Remember, the first paragraph is short – do not waste words. Make yourself an attractive candidate right from the beginning, and mention your biggest assets right here – such as the length of experience or quality of your education.
How long should the second paragraph be
Arguably the most important part of your cover letter. Therefore, you should make the second paragraph the most extensive and longest part of your cover letter. Write about your accomplishments and past work experiences in detail. Explain why you are the best candidate for the role and what your skills are that no one else has.
On the other hand, remember — you still must write at least one more paragraph in the body of the cover letter, as well as the closing paragraph. Therefore, don’t go overboard with the length.
The best thing to do is to initially write freely and more. Then, you can cut the number of words down later during later stages of editing. This way, you won’t limit your creativity from the start by being too focused on the correct word count.
How many words/paragraphs should a cover letter be
- As we've already stressed, your cover letter shouldn’t be too long. Keep it under one page. However, sometimes only half a page may not be long enough. Find the right balance.
- When it comes to the number of words, never exceed 400 words. 250-300 words are the ideal length of an average cover letter.
- The perfect number of paragraphs in a cover letter ranges from three to four. The maximum number of paragraphs that are acceptable is six.
Cover letter examples by length
If you want to see the instructions applied in real life, have a look at the cover letter examples of various lengths examples below. All three of these people managed to land the job by using the kickresume cover letter template!
Cover letter example 1: Short version: Half a page
Cover letter example 2: Medium version: Between half a page and a page
Cover letter example 3: Long version: A page
If you liked these cover letter samples and you want your cover letter to look the same, use one of our cover letter templates! You can go for the free or the premium version. It is super easy to use, so you’re just a click away from the cover letter of your dreams!
Cover letter formatting
Not only length but also the way you format the cover letter matters. Your goal is to make it very easy to read. You will achieve this by keeping your cover letter structured, nicely designed, and well-formatted. Here are the tips on how to achieve this:
- When it comes to the font of a cover letter, try to imagine being a busy hiring manager. You want to make their job as easy as possible – so go for a font that is easy to read. At the same time, you want to create a professional impression. In other words, the best font for your cover letter would be the classic Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. However, if you are confident enough to experiment and you want to make your cover letter stand out from the crowd with a more eye-catching design, go for it. But forget to ensure that the text should be easy to navigate and read – that is the priority.
- The letter size matters, too. Anything between 10.5 and 12 is good. You don’t want to make the letters too small, so they would be hard to read, or too large, so you don’t exceed one page.
- The margins of a cover letter are conventionally 1.5 or 1.
- A cover letter should never be double-spaced. You want to fit all the information on one page — with double spacing, you wouldn’t be able to.
How long should an email cover letter be?
Today, unless specifically instructed to do otherwise, the cover letter is conventionally sent as an email attachment.
Just like with the cover letter itself, sending a short and precise email is better than a long and overly complicated one.
In your email you must include:
- a relevant subject: if the subject title is not included in the vacancy instructions, use the name of the position for which you are applying;
- a polite greeting: address the person by their full name/if not available, Dear Sir/Madam will do
- refer to your attached cover letter and resume;
- express hopes for the future, consider attaching a phone number where they can reach you;
- close with best regards/best wishes and your full name and surname;
Email cover letter length examples
Email cover letter example 1
Email cover letter example 2
Email cover letter example 3
And that’s about it. There is no need to make it too elaborate – all the important information is in the attachment.
Now hit that send sign and wait for the response. After listening to all the advice, we have no doubts you will receive positive news. The Kickresume team wishes you the best of luck!
Now, when you have that cover letter in your pocket, we are sure you also want an amazing-looking resume. The good news is that you are just a click away from our Kickresume CV templates!
FAQ: How long should a cover letter be in 2023
What is the ideal word length of a cover letter?
Your cover letter should be between 250 to 400 words long.
A cover letter isn't required – should I still send it?
Yes, this is your chance to stand out from the crowd of applicants and make it clear that you’re willing to put in the effort.
Is a 1000-word cover letter too long?
Yes, it is. It's never advised to exceed 400, max. 500 words.
Is it ok to have a cover letter that is two pages long?
No, you should always limit your cover letter to only one page. Recruiters don't have time to read long essays. They also like familiarity and known formats.