How long should a cover letter be

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By Jagoda Obszarska, Senior Content Editor, TranslatorLast Updated: February 2, 2024
How long should a cover letter be

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When asked about optimal cover letter length, we usually answer: less than one page. However, the overall length of your cover letter will depend on its structure and, above all, your level of experience.

In this guide, we will answer how long a cover letter should be, and walk you through its components. We will also provide practical tips and examples to help you create a compelling cover letter that matches the expectations of UK employers.

Cover letter length can be puzzling, leaving many entry-level job seekers in the UK wondering how to strike the right balance. Your cover letter plays an essential role. It aims to supplement your CV and introduce you, showcase your skills, and demonstrate your genuine interest in the position.

How many words should a cover letter be

Determining the ideal word count for your cover letter is super important in maintaining a recruiter's interest while providing enough information to make a compelling case for your candidacy.

The general rule of thumb among career experts is that a standard cover letter format, consisting of a brief introduction, main body of the letter and a concise summary, should typically fall within the range of 250 to 400 words.

how long is a cover letter

What about specifics?

Let’s look at a standard cover letter template

Your contact details (full name, address, email and phone number)

Reader’s details (Company name, reader’s full name, address, email and phone number)

Formal greeting (3-5 words). This is rather short, usually you will use Ms./Mr. followed by the recruiters name.

First paragraph is a quick introduction (50-60 words). Mention the position you’re applying for and how you learned about the opening.

Second paragraph, or the selling pitch (150-300 words). Its length will depend on your professional experience. This is the right place to mention your background, skills and achievements, in other words, to sell yourself as the ideal candidate for the role.

Closing paragraph (40-60). Conclude your letter with taking the initiative. Once again express your enthusiasm and demonstrate your readiness for the interview.

Formal sign off (not more than 5 words). If you know the hiring professional name, you sign your letter off with:

Yours sincerely,
Your name

And if you don’t and you used more generic greeting, like Dear Hiring Team, you will finish your letter off with:

Yours faithfully,
Your name

However, this range is not set in stone, and there are exceptions depending on the specific circumstances.

Follow these tips to write a top notch cover letter:

  • Be concise

    The primary aim of a cover letter is to capture the recruiter's attention and encourage them to delve into your resume. As such, it's essential to keep your cover letter concise. Aim to convey your qualifications and enthusiasm in a clear and succinct manner. Avoid lengthy paragraphs and instead focus on highlighting your most relevant experiences and skills.

  • Tailor it the job

    While there's a recommended word count range, the length of your cover letter can also depend on the job you're applying for. If you're seeking a senior-level position or a role that requires extensive qualifications, you may need a slightly longer cover letter to adequately convey your suitability for the job. Conversely, entry-level positions may require a short cover letter that will be more straightforward.

  • Choose quality over quantity

    Remember that quality should always take precedence over quantity. It's better to have a well-crafted, slightly longer cover letter that effectively communicates your qualifications and enthusiasm than a shorter one that feels rushed or lacking in substance.

    On the other hand, writing a long, overcomplicated letter with many fancy-sounding words might have a reverse effect than expected, especially when it feels forced. The key is to find the perfect balance.

  • Personalise your content

    To ensure your cover letter is within the recommended word count, focus on tailoring your content to the job description. Highlight experiences and skills that directly relate to the position, and omit irrelevant details. This customisation not only keeps your cover letter concise but also demonstrates your genuine interest in the role.

  • Use a suitable tone

    Maintain a professional and courteous language throughout your cover letter. Avoid going off-topic or including personal anecdotes that do not directly contribute to your suitability for the job.

Now, let's move on to explore what factors can impact the length of a cover letter.

Write your Cover Letter

What impacts the length of a cover letter

The length of your cover letter isn’t solely determined by a word count. When writing a cover letter, keep in mind that several factors can influence how long or short it should be.

Understanding these factors will help you tailor your cover letter effectively:

  • Experience Level:

    Your level of experience plays a significant role in determining the length of your cover letter. Entry-level candidates may have shorter cover letters because they are still building their professional track record. In contrast, mid-career or senior professionals may need longer cover letters to showcase their extensive expertise.

  • Job Complexity:

    The complexity of the job you’re applying for can impact your cover letter’s length. If the role is highly technical or requires specific qualifications, you may need more space to detail your relevant skills and experiences.

  • Company:

    Research the company culture and industry norms. In some cases a concise cover letter may be ideal, while other companies may appreciate a more detailed introduction. Tailor your cover letter to align with the expectations of the specific employer.

  • Specific Requirements:

    Some job postings may include specific requirements for the cover letter, such as addressing certain questions or topics. Always follow these instructions to the letter, even if it means your cover letter exceeds the typical word count.

  • Your Story:

    Your unique career journey and accomplishments should also guide the length of your cover letter. If you have a particularly compelling story or a series of achievements that directly relate to the job, it’s worth dedicating more space to highlight these aspects.

  • Clarity and Readability:

    Above all, your cover letter should be clear and easy to read. Ensure that it flows logically, with each paragraph serving a distinct purpose. Avoid cramming too much information into a small space, as this can make your cover letter overwhelming.

Now that we’ve explored the factors influencing cover letter length, let’s move on to practical examples of cover letters with the perfect length.

Examples of Cover Letters with the Perfect Length

To help you visualise what an ideal cover letter length looks like, let’s examine cover letter examples that strike the right balance between conciseness and effectiveness:

Example 1: Entry-Level Position

A cover letter for an entry position should be rather short and on point. You don’t have extensive experience yet, so simply introduce your candidacy to the potential employer. Approximately 250-300 words should be just right.

This example will help you get a better sense of it:

Edward Wallace
5 Kendell Street
Sheffield, S1 5EH
e.wallace@example.com

Ms. Jane Smith
ABC Corporation
123 Main Street
London, W1J 0BA

Dear Ms. Smith,

I am writing to express my enthusiastic interest in the Junior Marketing Coordinator position at ABC Corporation, as I discovered it on your company’s website. With my recent degree in Marketing and Communication from Queen Mary’s University, I am eager to bring my knowledge and expertise in market research and social media marketing to contribute to your team’s continued success.

During my internship at Marketing Solutions Ltd, I had the invaluable opportunity to immerse myself in the world of marketing. My primary responsibilities included conducting comprehensive market research and analysing consumer behaviour trends. This experience enhanced my proficiency in utilising data-driven insights to make informed marketing decisions. I firmly believe that the skills I acquired align seamlessly with the requirements of the Junior Marketing Coordinator role at ABC Corporation.

What sets me apart is not only my academic background but also my passion for innovative marketing strategies. I am deeply committed to staying at the forefront of the latest industry trends and utilising cutting-edge techniques to create impactful marketing campaigns. My dedication to achieving measurable results, as demonstrated through my successful internship projects, reinforces my enthusiasm for this role.

I am genuinely excited about the possibility of joining the dynamic marketing team at ABC Corporation. I look forward to discussing how my skills and enthusiasm can contribute to your company’s marketing initiatives and help achieve even greater success. Enclosed, please find my CV for your reference, which provides further details about my education, internship experience, and relevant skills.

Thank you for considering my application. I anticipate the opportunity to further explore how my qualifications align with the goals and vision of ABC Corporation in an interview.

Sincerely,
Edward Wallace

Example 2: Mid-Career or Senior Position

If you already gained professional experience and have some significant achievements in your industry, your letter should have approximately 350-400 words. This will give you just enough space to introduce yourself, explain your backgrounds and demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for the position.

Samantha James
4 Bold Street
Liverpool, L1 4JG
sam.james@example.com

Mr. James Anderson
XYZ Enterprises
456 Business Boulevard
Liverpool, L5 4DB

Dear Mr. Anderson,

I am thrilled to submit my application for the Director of Business Development role at XYZ Enterprises. Over the course of my illustrious 15-year career in the technology and business development industry, I have amassed a wealth of experience and a proven track record of achieving remarkable results in expanding market presence, driving substantial revenue growth, and forging invaluable strategic partnerships.

Throughout my career, I have consistently demonstrated an unparalleled ability to create and execute strategic plans that yield exceptional results. In my most recent position as Vice President of Business Development at Tech Innovators Ltd, I oversaw and executed a comprehensive market entry strategy that resulted in an astounding 30% increase in international sales within just six months. This achievement not only solidified our position in existing markets but also opened doors to new and emerging ones.

My expertise extends beyond revenue growth, encompassing successful market expansion and cost-saving initiatives that have directly contributed to the financial strength and competitiveness of the organisations I have served.

One of the reasons I am drawn to XYZ Enterprises is your unwavering commitment to innovation in the fast-paced and ever-evolving tech sector. Your dedication to exploring and expanding into emerging markets aligns perfectly with my vision and career trajectory. I am eager to leverage my strategic acumen and industry expertise to help XYZ Enterprises further solidify its position as a global industry leader.

Enclosed, please find my CV, which offers a comprehensive overview of my professional journey, including my notable achievements in market development and revenue growth. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss how my extensive experiences align with XYZ Enterprises’ vision and goals in more detail.

Thank you for considering my application. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to join your esteemed team and contribute to XYZ Enterprises’ continued growth and success.

Sincerely,
Samantha James

These examples demonstrate how you can adjust the length of your cover letter based on your experience level and the nature of the job and industry you’re targeting. Always remember to maintain clarity, professionalism, and a focus on the specific qualifications and attributes that make you a strong candidate for the position.

Write your Cover Letter

Cover letter length takeaways

  • The length of a cover letter varies based on factors such as experience, job complexity, and company culture.
  • For entry-level positions, a concise cover letter (around 250-300 words) is appropriate.
  • Senior-level positions or roles with extensive qualifications may require longer cover letters (around 350-400 words).
  • Quality of content is extremely important; prioritise relevant details and maintain a professional tone.
  • Customising your content to the job description demonstrates genuine interest.
  • Following specific requirements from job postings is essential.
  • Clarity, readability, and logical flow should guide your cover letter’s structure.
  • Make sure your Cover Letter is a supplement to a well-written CV to maximise you chances of getting hired.

Create a perfect cover letter and start your career

Crafting the ideal cover letter length involves a delicate balance between conveying essential information and maintaining the reader’s interest. Whether you’re an entry-level candidate or a seasoned professional, understanding the factors that influence cover letter length is crucial to creating an impactful application. Review our cover letter examples and write your cover letter to take the next step in your professional life.

jagoda-obszarska

Jagoda Obszarska

SEO Content Writer, Translator

Jagoda Obszarska is a certified copywriter, Polish language translator and career advice expert. She never stops improving her skills and learning new things. Over the years, she has worked as a copywriter and translator with people from over 50 countries worldwide and completed nearly a thousand projects.

*The names and logos of the companies referred to above are all trademarks of their respective holders. Unless specifically stated otherwise, such references are not intended to imply any affiliation or association with myperfectCV.