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Picture a hiring manager. His name's Kevin.
He's got 200 cover letters on his desk.
He can tell a lot about an applicant by glancing at each one.
If your cover letter is too short, he'll think you don't care.
Too long? He'll pass.
But it's the reason it's the right length that lands the interview.
How long should a cover letter be?
This guide will show you:
Here's a good cover letter example made with our fast online cover letter tool. Want to write your letter in 15 minutes? Use our cover letter templates and build your cover letter here.
Perfect Length Cover Letter - See 20+ cover letter templates and create your letter here.
That short cover letter is the perfect length. Now let me show you why, and what to put in it to do it right. You'll get more good cover letter examples further down.
|Ideal cover letter length|
As you can see, a cover letter should be about 2/3 of a page long. Why? If your cover letter is too long, it makes you look unfocused. If it's too short, it looks weak and flimsy. Follow these tips to nail exactly the right length of cover letter:
A cover letter should never be 2 pages. A 2-page cover letter violates the cover letter definition. Namely, a cover letter is a brief description of why you fit the job. In rare cases, a resume can be two pages if you've got 10+ years experience.
A cover letter should always be less than one page. Short cover letters get more eye-time with managers. A cover letter that's less than a page sends an instant signal to the manager that your letter won't run over to page 2.
A cover letter is too long if it's a full page or longer. Three page or two page cover letters are a waste of paper. A cover letter should be about three paragraphs of facts explaining why you're perfect for the job.
Cover letter word count should be between 250 and 300 words. Why? Because that's the right length to fill up slightly more than half a page with 12-point font. But that's not how you'll get the interview.
An electronic cover letter should be the length of cover letters on paper. Namely, three paragraphs, 250-300 words, and less than a full page. The difference is, write a great subject line and leave the address section off the top.
A cover letter should not be double spaced. Always single space a cover letter. That includes the address. The only place to double space a cover letter is in between the paragraphs. That is: insert a blank line after each paragraph ends.
A cover letter for an academic position should be no longer than two pages, but long enough to show off your accomplishments. Research, teaching, departmental service, and relevant accolades. The typical academic cover letter is usually one and a half to two pages long (or about five to eight paragraphs.)
The right cover letter length matters because it sends a signal you're worth looking into. But how you make a cover letter the right length decides how many interviews you get.
So the real question is, how do you make your cover letter the right length?
You'll learn that in a minute.
Pro Tip: Out of 250 applicants, only 4 will get the interview. The right length of cover letter will increase your chances exponentially.
Want to make the most of your cover letter? Need a simple cover letter format? See our guide. Employers will see that you are the perfect match: How To Write A Cover Letter in 8 Simple Steps (+12 Examples)
There's a big difference between a paper cover letter and an electronic cover letter.
A glance at a paper cover letter tells how long it is.
That makes it easier to read.
An email might be two paragraphs or 50. The reader must scroll down in order to find out.
That means people skim most emails.
So how long should an email cover letter be?
Use short sentences. Short paragraphs. Make every sentence count.
Add bullet points to show achievements. Make them company specific, like this example of how long a cover letter email should be:
I'm very excited about the software engineer position at Igatronix, Inc. I'm confident I can help you become the #1 SaaS video editing platform on the web. For one, I led the team that won the Bossie for an online video editing application.
To me, the Bossie wasn't just an award, but a culmination of:
I've been a huge fan of Igatronix products for several years. It's your commitment to letting employees guide the life cycle that delivers your success. You value self-motivated, highly creative software engineers, and my record speaks for itself.
Can we set up a time...
That short cover letter example gets the job done fast. The trick? Deliver eyebrow raising facts, lightning-fast, with zero filler.
Make your bullet points as hard-hitting to the company's bottom line as possible.
Just like with a paper cover letter, make sure you sell:
Pro Tip: In an email cover letter, drop the address section from the top. Make your subject line the job offer title + "applicant" + your name.
The first sentence of your cover letter can make or break your interview chances. That goes double for longer cover letters. See how to do it right in our guide: How to Start a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide [20+ Examples]
Imagine you need to buy a cake.
One baker sends you a long form letter about what a great cake maker he is.
The other is excited. She's known you since childhood. It's your wedding cake, and she's so happy for you. Plus, she's skilled.
Which one do you hire?
If you create generic cover letter length by adding fluff, you're doing it wrong.
Make the right length of cover letter by proving why you want this job.
This example shows how long a cover letter first paragraph should be, and why.
How long is a cover letter first paragraph?
I'm extremely enthusiastic about the project manager position at E.A. Seton Children's Hospital. I'm certain I can help with your upcoming Lean Healthcare transformation. This comes from my success implementing Lean at Greenhow Hospital, with a 32% cost reduction and 20% boost in HCAHPS scores.
See that? The manager would have to ingest something mind-altering to pass up on the interview.
It's three sentences long. About 50 words.
There's nothing generic about it. It shows exactly why you're fired up. It proves you genuinely care about the mission.
Better still, it does it based on your experience.
It's the first part to the best cover letter ever.
How long is a cover letter second paragraph?
As Project Manager at Greenhow, my core skill at putting the employees first helped me lead the team to:
See that? It's 50 words. It doesn't pound its chest. It doesn't say "I'm the best" like Eminem on steroids.
It proves its case with numbers. It's a million miles from a generic cover letter.
Think you can't do that? You can.
Just read the job description carefully. Then, brainstorm about your past to find when you've delivered what it's looking for.
How long is a cover letter third paragraph?
Lean Healthcare makes excellent sense, as evidenced by the rampant waste in our industry. I said as much in my article "Health Care and Lean: The Time is Now," linked to by Fortune. You spoke these thoughts yourself in your acceptance speech at APIC last year. Our thinking is aligned. With my track record of Lean success and E.A. Seton Children's Hospital's commitment to it, I believe the sky's the limit.
Wow. The hiring manager just stopped skimming and started reading.
Here's why it works:
It doesn't just say, "I like the company."
It proves it, based on your ambitions.
Not sure why you like the company? Find out.
Read their mission statement and "about us" page. Read news articles about them. Find out their philosophy on training and staff development.
In short, dig up a reason they're the perfect company for you.
Pro Tip: To get the right cover letter length, use one inch margins and 12 point font. Add white space between paragraphs to give the hiring manager's eyes a pit-stop. Also, make it single-spaced, not double-spaced.
Still not clear on the how long should a cover letter be problem? Need more good cover letter examples? See our guide: Cover Letter Formats: A Complete How-To Guide [10+ Examples] and What to Include in a Cover Letter (15+ Examples & A Complete Guide).
Remember: It’s not “how long can a cover letter be,” it’s “how long should a cover letter be.”
The ideal cover letter length is:
But it's the things that make it the right length that land the interview. Fluff should never add to cover letter length.
The ideal length of a cover letter should be decided by how long it takes to prove three things:
Why this job, why this company, and why you. If you can do that in three sentences and you use four, your cover letter is too long.
Want to know more about how long to make a cover letter? What frustrates you about cover letter length? Give us a shout in the comments! We love to help!