The cover letter is one of the most important documents in your job search and can often be the deciding factor in landing the interview. letter could do more harm than good so you want to ensure you’re sending a well written document. A common question job seekers have is – how long should a cover letter be?
Don’t worry, We’ve got you covered! We’ll show you exactly how long your cover letter should be. We’ll also show you what you should be including in each paragraph.
(We wrote a great post on how to write an awesome cover letter with examples here).
How Long a Cover Letter Should Be:
Your cover letter should be 1/2 page to 2/3 page long usually consisting of 3-4 short paragraphs.
How many words should a cover letter contain?
A 1/2 page to 2/3 of a page is roughly 175 - 300 words.
A resume that is a full page in length or longer is never a good idea because the hiring manager just doesn’t have the time or patience to read that much. There also isn’t any reason to be writing that much as you only need to briefly touch on the following four points:
A bit about yourself (Background, skills and qualifications).
Why you would make a good fit for the position.
Your desire for the position (Show some enthusiasm).
A call to action (Ask for the interview)
You also don't want to send a really short cover letter that's less than 1/2 page or 3 paragraphs. This is a common mistake job seekers make and it really hurts your chances of the hiring manager taking a look at your resume.
The hiring manager will feel as though it's a generic cover letter which you're sending out to every employer and in that case, it's better not to send one at all. You want to show that you put effort into it but you don't want to look too desperate.
Cover Letter Paragraphs:
and state the position you're applying for. You should also briefly touch up on your skills, experience and qualifications.
State why you would be a good fit for the position and some quantifiable achievements over the course of your career or academics.
State once more why you think you’d be a good fit for the position and your desire to work for the company. You should also use a call to action which, in this case, is being invited in for an interview. Finish the letter off by thanking the hiring manager for their time.
What if I have very little or no work experience?
You still need to send one and yes, you should be sending a cover letter with every application. How long should a cover letter be in this case? The answer is still the same, 1/2 page - 2/3 page long.
In this case, you need to change the content of the cover letter, but sending one is still very important. In some cases, it’s even more important when you have no experience because you don’t have much content on your resume.
You should also list some of your soft skills, academic achievements and any relevant points from previous work or internships.
We wrote a great article with examples on how to write a cover letter with little to no experience.
5 Quick Cover Letter Tips
Length - Your cover letter should be a half page or 2/3 page long, don't go on for a full page or longer.
Quantify - Don't just list out responsibilities from your previous positions, use quantifiable achievements (numbers). Remember that there are possibly hundreds of other candidates. You need to stand out and show how you went above and beyond.
Tailored - Don't send the same cover letter to every opening. Hiring managers can tell when you're blasting out the same cover letter to every employer. You should tailor it to each position and mention the company name and why you want to work for them specifically.
Find a name - It may a bit difficult but you should always try to find the name of the hiring manager in charge. This gives you a leg up and catches their attention as it shows that you dedicated time and effort into looking for it.
Don't copy your resume - Your cover letter shouldn't be a copy of your resume. Use a more conversational tone and express why you'd make a good fit and your desire to work there.
Don't forget to close your cover letter with a call to action which in this case is an opportunity to interview. A cover letter is sometimes just as important as a resume so make sure you put in the time and effort to create a good one. A half page to 2/3 is how long a resume should be. Keep it brief and to the point!
Good luck with your job search!
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.