How long should a cover letter be? A cover letter should be no longer than one page and no less than half a page. It should be divided into four paragraphs. This length shows hiring managers why you’re right for the job while respecting their time.
Most applications for tech jobs (and any other job) will request that you write a cover letter as part of the application process. The purpose of this letter is to share information about your background and what makes you suitable for the position.
If you’re a job seeker, you may be asking yourself the question: how long should a cover letter be? If it’s too short, you might look like someone who is not passionate about the job. On the other hand, if it’s too long, an employer may gloss over important details.
We’re going to discuss how long a cover letter should be, and explore a few factors you should consider when writing one as you apply for a job.
Why Do I Need a Cover Letter?
While cover letters are often optional, many employers require that you submit a cover letter for the job. But even if submitting a cover letter is not a requirement, it is still a useful document to attach to your job application.
Cover letters, unlike letters of interest, allow you to explore why you would be a good fit for a job in more depth. And they give you the ability to share more information about yourself alongside your resume and application.
How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
The ideal cover letter length is between half a page and one page. But this depends on the content you want to include. Your cover letter should include no more than four paragraphs of writing aside from the address and contact information. But it could be even shorter if you are writing an email.
To ensure you use the right cover letter format, here’s a list of six factors that you should consider when writing your letter:
1. Focus on your relevant skills
It can be tempting to talk about all the experiences you have had and how they shaped you as a worker. You could talk about all the semesters you spent abroad or the internships you took in college.
But a cover letter should be short. You should focus only on your relevant skills and background. So, if you have some experience that relates directly to a position, then you should mention it.
However, you should make sure that you don’t add in too much filler content. This kind of content does not make it clear to the employer why you are the right candidate for a position.
2. Use no more than four paragraphs
As we discussed earlier, your cover letter should be between half a page and one full page long. This will only give you room for about four paragraphs. So, when you are writing your cover letter, you should aim to write three or four paragraphs which are easy to read.
For instance, your first paragraph can be an introduction to your background and a description of the position for which you are applying. Your next two paragraphs could focus on experiences that qualify you for a position. Then, your final paragraph could act as a closing statement for your letter.
3. Do not use a word count
One way that people measure the length of content is by using word counts. Indeed, “half a page” is not a very clear measure of how long a cover letter should be.
However, if you’re asking yourself “How many words should a cover letter be?” you can stop right there. Unless there is a word count imposed by the employer, you don’t need to worry about using a specific word count. Your cover letter may end up between 300 and 400 words. That’s about how much you can fit on a properly-styled page of paper. But you can use fewer words if you want.
4. Leave some information to be revealed later
The cover letter is designed to help you pitch yourself to an employer. It is not a resume, which lists all of your accomplishments. Nor is it a job application. You have control over exactly how you structure your letter and what you include.
In your cover letter, you should try to leave some information that you can mention later. You should mention your highlight accomplishments that are relevant to the job. Even if you have a lot of impressive accomplishments, you don’t have to fit them all into your cover letter.
If you advance to a job interview, you’ll delve into your experience in more depth. The cover letter is your chance to give an employer a taste of your expertise and skills. It’s not the full story of your work history.
5. Ask for a review
If your cover letter is still long and you’re not sure what to remove, then you may want to ask someone for a second opinion.
They’ll be able to give you specific and actionable feedback on how you can improve. They may even notice things you would have missed. It’s often difficult to find problems in your own writing.
6. Use clear and concise sentences
One way to ensure your cover letter remains brief is to use short sentences that communicate only the information that you need to share.
For instance, if you are describing your college internship, simply mention the name of the organization and one thing you learned. This information could be broken down into two or three different sentences. This might be its own paragraph.
Toward the end of each paragraph, you should write a concluding sentence that links the main point you are making back to you. This will ensure you retain the attention of your reader.
How to Format a Cover Letter
While the length of your cover letter is important, so is making sure that you include all the necessary information.
Here are the main points that you should include in your letter:
- Contact information (phone number, email address, mailing address)
- Introductory paragraph
- Main body (your qualifications, skills, educational history)
- Closing paragraph
Also, your cover letter should use a simple and readable font and font size. You may want to use Times New Roman with a font size of 12, which is easy to read.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Your cover letter should also be surrounded by a one-inch margin. Don’t change the margins to fit in more text. This makes your cover letter cluttered and hard to read. There should also be space between paragraphs. White space on your cover letter is not a bad thing. The less text on the page, the easier it will be to read your letter.
Cover letters are an important part of the job application process, and a strong candidate has a strong cover letter.
When you are writing your cover letter, focus on the skills and experiences that are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Use short sentences and ignore the voice telling you to include a list of every impressive accomplishment.
By following the guidance in this article, you should have no trouble writing a cover letter that is neither too short nor too long. Writing a good and clear cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and being rejected.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.