We surveyed US hiring decision-makers to find out if cover letters are still necessary and if *you* need one to land a job in 2020. Here’s what we found.
Just like Goldilocks likes her porridge neither too cold nor too hot—
The recruiters like your cover letter to be just the right length.
The question is:
Do you know how long your cover letter should be?
In this guide you’ll learn:
- How long a cover letter should be for the recruiter to read it.
- How many words and paragraphs are best for a cover letter.
- If a cover letter can be 2 pages, or should it always be shorter.
- How to format your cover letter to make the most of it.
Create a cover letter that matches the design of your resume—pick from 18 professional templates and get a powerful resume + cover letter combo now.
Create my cover letter now
1. The Ideal Cover Letter Length
Cut to the chase—
Your cover letter should be between half a page and one page long, consist of four paragraphs, and shouldn’t exceed 200-350 words. Be concise and at the same time grab attention. If you make your cover letter too long, the recruiter won’t read it. If its word count is too low, though, your cover letter will look sloppy.
So, learn these numbers by heart:
This is how long a cover letter should be
- 1 page
- 4 paragraphs
- 200-350 words
Now, let’s now break this down into several more specific questions.
Should a cover letter be one page?
Your cover letter should be one page long at maximum.
By definition a cover letter is a brief explanation of your credentials and interest in the position. And brief if the keyword here.
A single page is a digestible cover letter length for a recruiter to read, or at least skim. Anything longer than this is useless as you can be 100% sure it will never get read.
Can a cover letter be two pages?
Unlike a resume, your cover letter can’t be two pages long.
A recruiter will only spend about 7 seconds scanning your resume. If they find it interesting enough, they’ll give your cover letter a shot too.
If instead of a cover letter they’ll come across a 2-page essay recounting your life story, they’ll give it a pass.
To cut a long story short:
The very length of your cover letter reflects your understanding of the idea behind writing one in the first place. If you write a two-page cover letter, you’ll only show you don't know how to write a great cover letter, and what its purpose really is.
How many words should a cover letter be?
Most cover letters now are sent via email, so keep your cover letter word count between 200-350 words.
This isn’t exactly hard science but it's how many words there are on average in all the four paragraphs of a well-written cover letter.
And one more thing:
If you want to write your cover letter in the body of an email, rather than send your cover letter as a PDF attachment just make sure it’s even more succinct.
Remember: hiring managers read emails in a hurry.
Unless you grab their attention right away, your message will end up in trash.
Learn how to write an attention-grabbing email cover letter from our dedicated guide.
2. Sample One-Page Cover Letter
Here’s an example of a cover letter whose length stays within the acceptable limits:
Product Manager, CPM
10 July 2019
Head of Sales
Jensen Smul International
Overland Park, Kansas(KS), 66210
2638 Better Street
Surpassing revenue goal by 130% at Accelubeam, and saving $1.5 million in costs last financial year wasn’t the peak of my career. I am positive I can achieve even higher results in the role of a Senior Product Manager at Jensen Smul International.
As a product manager with over 5 years of experience, I’ve been opportune enough to work in varied environments. I had a chance to lead 5 cross-functional teams from conception through product launch with multiple iterations, which resulted in raising 7 efficiency measures by more than 20%. I believe this is the kind of flexibility and leadership experience you’re looking for among your senior leaders. And I’d be delighted to help your product team grow.
I’m truly elated by this opportunity as I’ve been a long-time fan of your multiple ventures, especially Accel-Rator. I’d love my experience in helping fast-growing SaaS businesses use their full potential to contribute to the growth of Accel-Rator in particular.
Would it be possible for you to set aside some time next week to talk about my ideas on exploring new product functionalities, and running marketing campaigns that could help us realize up to 130% ROI?
PS—I'd love to tell you how my team managed to improve UX/UI scores by up to 20% by means of increasing user feedback collection.
3. How to Get the Format and Length of a Cover Letter Right
Here’s the thing:
In order to convey as much meaning as possible is as few words as possible, your cover letter needs to be formatted right. Here’s how to do this:
Format Your Cover Letter Properly
- Set the margins to one inch on every side.
- Choose the best cover letter fonts and make sure they’re in the 10–14pt range.
- Use single or 1.15 line spacing. Don’t use double line spacing in a cover letter.
- Make good use of white space. It gives your cover letter breathing room.
Follow the four-paragraph cover letter format to make the most of the space you have:
Write a Great Introduction
Start with an introductory paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention.
Mention one of your biggest achievements that’s relevant to the position you’re targeting.
For more details, read our dedicated guide on how to start a cover letter in a captivating way.
Learn how to address your cover letter properly to stand out from the other applicants right off the bat.
Compose Two Powerful Main-Body Paragraphs
The two following paragraphs should focus on convincing the recruiter you can get the job done better than the rest.
You need to show how you’re going to help the company succeed, and explain your motivations.
If you’re not sure how to do this, our guide on what to include in a cover letter has all the answers.
End Your Cover Letter With a Call to Action
Your cover letter should end with a promise and a clear call to action just like you see in the example above.
You can learn the ins and outs of how to end a cover letter in a powerful way from our dedicated guide.
Here’s everything you should know about your cover letter length:
- Your cover letter should be one-page long.
- It should have up to 350 words and consist of four paragraphs.
- It’s important to format your cover right to make the most of it.
Do you have any other questions about how long a cover letter should be? Would you like to share your advice on choosing the optimal cover letter length? We’d love to hear from you.