How many words should a cover letter be?
A cover letter should be between 250 to 400 words (or three to four paragraphs) in total. A cover letter should therefore be no longer than one page.
Employers don’t have time to read lengthy cover letters — 82% of employers prefer cover letters to be less than one page, so writing any more than that will make employers skip your application in favour of shorter ones.
How to achieve the perfect cover letter length
Knowing what to include in a cover letter and how to format it appropriately is essential to establishing the ideal cover letter length.
Not sure how to write a cover letter effectively? Here are four writing tips to ensure your cover letter has all the necessary components.
1. Use correct cover letter formatting
Correct cover letter formatting is vital. The amount of white space on the page, font style and size, and page margins and alignment affect the final length of your cover letter.
The best font for a cover letter is easy to read, with a size between 10.5 and 12 points. Good fonts for a cover letter are Calibri, Times New Roman, Georgia, and Arial.
Use single spacing or 1.5 line spacing to neatly display your paragraphs.
Additionally, knowing how to properly end a cover letter is an important part of the formatting process.
Remember to leave space after your final paragraph for your sign-off.
If you’re adding a handwritten signature, leave extra paragraph breaks between the sign-off and your typed name.
2. Mention relevant experiences and achievements
When writing a cover letter, focus on the transferable skills, experiences, and achievements that are relevant to the position that you’re applying for.
You don’t need to include everything in your work history except for the qualifications that employers are looking for in their job adverts.
So don’t waste precious space on information that has no connection to the position you’re applying for.
Take a look at this short cover letter example:
Example of a concise cover letter paragraph
Dear Ms Baxter,
I’m a professional driver with 4+ years of experience delivering food in the Greater London area.
Familiarity with your delivery area and a spotless driving record makes me an ideal candidate for your delivery driver position. At my last job, I was known for quickly planning efficient routes for delivering multiple orders, and I haven’t received a lateness complaint in 3+ years. Also, I offer exceptional customer service skills, proven by a 98% customer satisfaction rating.
I look forward to discussing my qualifications with you in an interview. My phone number is 07245-434-3913 and my email address is email@example.com. Thank you for reading my cover letter.
In 113 words and three paragraphs, this letter sets a clear picture of what the applicant has to offer.
3. Keep your paragraphs concise
Space is a precious resource in a cover letter, so make sure every sentence has a purpose. Avoid using fancy language by keeping your cover letter direct and simple.
This is an example of a sentence that’s too wordy:
Example of a wordy sentence
Due to the complicated circumstances of my previous job I often had to adapt to different situations which led me to develop the ability to work with all kinds of scenarios.
Here’s how you can make this sentence direct and simple:
Example of a concise sentence
My previous job taught me how to adapt to any circumstance.
Every word counts in a cover letter, so don’t use more words than necessary. The tips described previously in this article show you how to write a concise paragraph that still covers the key information.
Here are two strategies for writing more concise paragraphs:
1. Replace long phrases with shorter words
While phrases such as ‘due to the fact’, ‘provided that’, ‘as a result’, and ‘on the other hand’ sound elegant, they use valuable space. Consider using single-word alternatives instead.
For example, use ‘because’ instead of ‘due to the fact’, or ‘if’ rather than ‘provided that’.
2. Use the STAR method
The STAR method is an interview technique that you can apply to your cover letter to keep your information concise.
STAR stands for:
When writing about your work experiences on a CV, consider problems you’ve faced, your responsibilities, how you handled them, and the results.
Writing your CV with STAR statements conveys your experience in detailed yet short sentences.
Here’s an example of an applicant’s STAR bullet point for a copywriting position:
- Collaborated with the Marketing and Design team by rewriting 50+ pages of content to improve keyword rankings and page views, resulting in boosting page conversions by 89% and improving keyword rankings by 65%
4. Proofread your cover letter
Make sure you check your cover letter carefully before submitting it because employers disregard applications that have grammar or spelling errors.
Having another perspective or even taking a break and then looking through your cover letter again later can help you find ways to optimise your letter.
While you should make use of grammar correcting tools like Grammarly and a spell checker, you should still go through the letter yourself to ensure no mistakes slipped through.