How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

The Best Length for a Cover Letter for a Job

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There is some debate about whether you need a cover letter when you apply for jobs. There are also varied opinions on how long a cover letter should be.

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

The majority of employers require cover letters. A Saddleback College Resume Survey reports that more than half (53%) of employers responded that a cover letter is required, while nearly 30% had no preference.

Even when a cover letter isn't required, it can boost your chances of getting hired if you include a cover letter when you apply for a job.

Cover Letter Length Options

Should you keep it short or should it be a full page or longer that covers in detail why you are a match for a job? Your cover letter shouldn't be longer than one page. It should highlight your most relevant qualifications for the job and what you have to offer the employer.

In fact, as far as how long your cover letter should be, shorter is better. Almost 70% of employers wanted a cover letter of less than a full page and about 25% said the shorter the better.

Here are the preferences for cover letter length from the employers who responded to the survey:

  • Full page – 12.6%
  • 1/2 page – 43.7%
  • No preference - 19.5%
  • The shorter the better - 24.1%

Cover Letter Word Count

The word count of your cover letter will vary based on the font you choose, but it's important to choose a readable font and to leave space between paragraphs so your letter is easy to read and comprehend. Here are formatting guidelines.

Paper vs. Email

When sending an email cover letter, it's even more important to be concise. The first paragraph is what readers pay attention to when reading email. The rest of the message is typically skimmed. Two paragraphs - an introduction, your qualification for the job - and a closing are sufficient.

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