How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

A cover letter is a critical job application document and getting the right length is an important part of the process. In just 250 to 400 words, your cover letter needs to introduce who you are, emphasize your interest in the job, highlight your qualifications, position you as a strong fit for the role, and show passion and enthusiasm. Done correctly, you dramatically increase your chances of getting the job!

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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

Hiring managers are busy people who don’t have the time to read lengthy introductions. As a result, the rule of thumb is that a cover letter should be somewhere between half a page and one page (but not longer).

That equates to around four paragraphs or between 250 and 400 words.

Length of Cover Letter Sections

Let’s take a look at the standard cover letter format and break this length guideline down by section.


Opening: Engages the reader with a compelling anecdote about why you’re applying and explains what attracted you to the role and company. Use this to connect your qualifications to the job. An opening to a cover letter should be one paragraph and around 80 words long.

Body: Shows why you’re the perfect fit for the position and highlights quantifiable accomplishments that back up skills. Use this section to align your abilities, experience, and values with the job requirements and indicate how you could bring value. The body of a cover letter should be one to three paragraphs and about 200 words

Closing statement: Reiterate your interest in the job and tank the reader for their consideration. Present a call to action and encourage them to arrange an interview. The closing of a cover letter will be one paragraph of about 60 words.

Why it’s important to limit cover letter length.

Being concise in a cover letter is essential because:

        • A brief letter is more likely to be read and fully considered by busy hiring managers.
        • It shows respect for the reader’s time – a wordy letter will just annoy potential employers.
        • A cover letter is only meant to offer a preview of your skills and qualifications – extra details can be saved for the interview.
        • Important points can easily get lost in a lengthy letter.
        • Unnecessary details distract from your qualifications.
        • It ensures that your message is clear, relevant, and to the point.
        • It showcases a strong communication style and an ability to prioritize information and express yourself effectively – markers of a good candidate.
        • Less is more – a succinct letter entices the reader to learn more about you and explore your resume.


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Tips for Cover Letter Length

Now that we’ve answered the question “How long should a cover letter be?”, let’s get into how to make sure you stick to the appropriate length.

Keeping your letter to under one page can be challenging. You might feel compelled to overexplain why you’re such a great fit for the role or dive into a lengthy story about why it would be your dream to work for the company.

But it’s important to rein yourself in and adhere to the recommended word count. Keep the following pointers in mind to do this successfully.

Start with the right spacing and font size.

There’s no point in writing your whole letter with the one-page maximum in mind only to realize that your formatting is wrong. Get your formatting correct from the start so you can accurately assess length while typing.

Margins should be set to one inch and you should use single or 1.15 spacing. A 12-point font size is best, and your text should never be smaller than 11pt.

Using a professional cover letter template can help to ensure your letter’s formatting is correct.

Think of your letter as an elevator pitch.

Consider what you would focus on if you only had 30 seconds to convince a hiring manager that you’re the perfect person for the job. Jot down these key points and frame your cover letter around them – don’t give in to the temptation to add anything extra.

Let the job description guide you for relevance.

Your cover letter isn’t meant to tell the whole story of your career. It’s supposed to tell a condensed, customized story aligned with the particular role you’re applying for.

Make sure you address only the most relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments that directly match the job requirements outlined in the description. If you prioritize relevance and omit everything else, you can keep your document tight and to the point.

Write a first draft, then cut the fluff.

One approach you could take is to just toss all your thoughts onto the page and then go back and remove every unnecessary detail.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • “Is this 100% relevant to the position?”
  • “Does this add value to my application?”
  • “Do I need all three examples or will one suffice?”
  • “Would I find this interesting?”
  • “Does this sound like something that everyone says?”

Then delete, delete, delete. The idea is to filter your message down to the fewest possible points that’ll make the most impact.

Make every word count.

Being concise isn’t just about removing unnecessary information; it’s also about removing unnecessary words.

If you can express something in a shorter, tighter way, you absolutely should. Always use clear and straightforward language and avoid complex, wordy sentences. Maybe you’ve included lots of superfluous adjectives or flowery descriptions – get rid of these immediately.

Organize information strategically.

Rather than thinking of your cover letter as one continuous document that needs to make 10 different points, approach it in sections, each with a specific objective and word count (see the by-section breakdown higher up on this page). This will help you to stay focused and avoid repetition while preventing you from rambling on.

You can also use bullet points to summarize information and present it in a well-structured and easily scannable format.

Key Takeaways

  • A cover letter should be between 250 and 400 words (more than half a page but less than one page).
  • You should only write more than one page if the job posting specifically asks you to.
  • A concise letter is more likely to entice and engage busy hiring managers while reflecting positively on your communication skills.
  • To keep your letter an appropriate length, format it correctly, avoid unnecessary words, and only focus on your most relevant qualifications.
Pro Tip:

A cover letter builder with pre-built templates can help you optimize space and keep the length under control.

Cover Letter Length FAQ

Updated: December 15, 2023

The ideal length for a cover letter is around 300 words – somewhere between 250 and 400 words. If you’re fresh out of college and are applying for a straightforward role, your cover letter could be a bit shorter, closer to 250.

If you have decades of experience behind you and the job requirements are fairly complex, you can write a slightly longer letter of around 400 words. The key is to make a strong argument and convey all the most pertinent information in as few words as possible.

Generally, no. A two-page cover letter is too long and will potentially put off readers who don’t have time to wade through lots of text. That said, if the hiring manager specifically requests a longer cover letter with extensive details, then two pages is absolutely fine.

Similarly, if you’re writing an academic cover letter that must dive into your teaching and research experience, a two-page letter is probably appropriate. In all other cases, try to keep your letter under one page.

If you don’t have a lot of work experience or technical skills to write about, you could get away with a 200-word cover letter (although bear in mind that the recommended minimum is 250 words). However, if you’re an experienced professional with a broad skill set and several key accomplishments, 200 words probably aren’t enough to do your background justice.

In general, you don’t want your cover letter to be too short because this suggests that you haven’t put in the effort to engage the hiring manager and don’t have much to say about what you can offer an employer.

Employers often receive hundreds of job applications for vacancies. They need to work through them quickly and a concise cover letter makes this job that much easier. A brief letter also shows that you can convey information clearly and succinctly – a valuable skill in many roles.

Finally, brevity ensures that you only focus on relevant qualifications and accomplishments. This means that employers don’t have to sift through heaps of irrelevant content to find the information they want.


Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

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