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How to Write a Job Application Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is essential when applying for jobs. This is the perfect way to express how your specific skills are relevant to the open position. Wow your future employer with this simple cover letter example format.

Write a First Draft

Writing a first draft makes your letter concise and professional, states The Balance Careers. Organize your thoughts by making a list of what you’re trying to convey. Make sure you prioritize certain aspects like your previous job experience and why you would be a good fit for the position. Clearly state what position you’re interested in and why. Think about why you’re applying and what caught your eye about this specific position. Your cover letter will be easier to write after your thoughts are collected and organized.

Customize Your Salutation

When writing a salutation, make sure you know who you are writing to. Is this person the owner of the company or a Human Resources administrator? If you’re not sure, research the company to find out. Addressing your cover letter to a specific person shows initiative and attention to detail. After your salutation, start your letter with a short introduction of yourself. This gives future employers insight into who you are and the purpose of your cover letter.

Write Intentionally

Your cover letter should be no more than one page, so keep your points brief. Clearly state what position you are interested in and why. Explain why you are a good fit for the company because of your past job experience. If you have no similar job experience, let the employer know why you are changing career paths. Expand on your skills and give specific examples of how that skill set helped you at your last position. Name projects you’ve worked on and show results.

Close Your Letter

End your cover letter with a brief sentence and sign off. Thank the employer for their time and express your interest towards the job again. Let them know you’ll follow up with them if you do not hear back within a week and leave your contact information. Sign off with a professional farewell and leave room for a signature if sending a hard copy.

Edit and Proofread

As you finish writing your cover letter, make sure you take time to edit and proofread your document. Make sure it’s structured in a professional format with the company’s information, the salutation and introduction, the body of the letter, a brief closing sentence and farewell. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes to ensure a formal result. Make sure all names are spelled correctly, as well.


how long should an engineering cover letter be

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be and What Should Be Included?

If you’re applying for a new job, you want to make sure your cover letter length is appropriate and contains the right cover letter sections. Learn more about cover letter word count and organization as well as tips on crafting an effective cover letter.

[Featured image] A woman in a maroon shirt holding a cup of coffee looks over her cover letter and smiles.

A cover letter can be anything between half a page and a full-page long. Generally, you should aim for a cover letter word count of 250 to 400 words and about three to six paragraphs. 

A short, concise cover letter serves as a written introduction to a prospective employer and outlines why you’re the best fit for the job. The cover letter, which you submit alongside your resume, highlights your experience and helps explain how your skills and personality will complement the company.

In addition to asking how long a cover letter should be, you might also wonder what to write. To help, we’ll provide tips on the length, offer an outline to follow, and highlight writing suggestions that can impress and inspire the hiring managers to invite you for an interview. 

Cover letter length and outline 

A cover letter should take up at least half or a whole page, but not longer. Shorter is better. 

The length is also dependent on how you plan to send the cover letter, either in the body of an email or as a separate attachment. If you send your letter in an email, it should lean more towards a half-page. If it’s an attachment, you can go a bit longer, but not longer than a page. 

Although all options are acceptable, crafting your cover letter in an email gets instant visibility as opposed to an attachment that the recipient must open after reading your email. Check for delivery directions in the job description. If there aren’t any directions, an email will be the best option for you.  

What should be included in your cover letter? Here’s an outline of the cover letter sections and the information each paragraph should include: 

Contact information and greeting

At the top of your cover letter, include your contact information, which should include your:

City and state

Phone number 

Email address

After providing these details, add the date and contact information of the recipient, although you do not need this information if you're writing your cover letter in the body of an email. 

Next, write a greeting to the hiring manager. Ideally, you’ll know the name of the hiring manager and will address the letter to that person. However, if you don’t know their name, you can simply address it to the Hiring Manager.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

The first paragraph serves as an introduction. Start by introducing yourself and stating the position you’re interested in within the company. Add a fact or two about the company as you explain how you’ll complement the business.

When you research the company, examine the company's mission statement, values, and products. Review the company’s social profiles, search for news articles about the company, and run a search on the company’s owners and head executives. Use these pieces of information to write your introduction. 

Paragraph 2: Relevant experience

The next paragraph should offer your specific qualifications that align with the job description. You should mention your most recent job, its daily responsibilities, and how it helps the current job opening if it applies. 

Briefly highlight your skills. If you can, offer statistics that support your achievements by including a statement like, “The content marketing strategies I implemented led to a 300 percent increase in visitors, a 15 percent increase in inbound leads, and a 2 percent increase in conversions." 

If your previous job was in a different field or if you’re new to the job market, use this cover letter section to explain why you’re a good fit for the position. 

Paragraph 3: Company details or more qualifications

The third paragraph can take two different forms. You can talk about the company and why you want to join such a business, or you can point out additional qualifications that make you a standout candidate. 

Speak about the company. By researching the company’s website, social presence, news, and employee LinkedIn profiles, you can synthesize a few details about the company that you appreciate. With this data, determine why it’s the role and work environment for you and include your explanation in the letter itself.

If you’re light on company-specific details, mention more of your alluring qualifications, skills, or personality traits. However, be sure it’s fresh information and not repetitive of anything mentioned in the previous paragraph. 

Paragraph 4: Closing

In the last paragraph, you should express your appreciation to the reader and offer to discuss the position more in-depth during an interview. 

Every cover letter, no matter what position you apply for, includes a call to action at the end, such as asking for a meeting or an interview. 

Add your contact information including your cell phone number, address, and professional sites like your LinkedIn profile or portfolio, all below your signature. 

What if a job description says a cover letter isn’t required?

Experts say you should always send a cover letter as it gives you a chance to introduce yourself, showcase your skills, and stand out. You might come across a job description that indicates a cover letter isn’t required and be inclined to skip it. Send one anyway. A cover letter will allow you to highlight your relevant skills, experience, and interest in the company, presenting yourself as the ideal match for the job.  

Tips for writing an effective cover letter

You want your cover letter to stand out from the other candidates who are also applying for the job. Your words should express your qualifications and show your potential for growth at the company. Follow these tips to elevate your cover letter: 

Check the job description for requirements.

Before writing your cover letter, check for requirements in the job description. 

In some cases, the job description may include instructions for your cover letter. It might have requirements such as: maintaining a specific length, naming the recipient, and the information they want to know about you. 

Know the name of the recipient.

Include the name of the hiring manager as opposed to a more general greeting like “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager.” Check the job description or company website for this information, or call the company to get the name of the hiring manager assigned to you. If you exhaust these options and can’t find the answer, use the general greeting.

Tailor the letter.

You’ll notice in the outline that company-specific and job posting-specific details should be included in the cover letter. As a result, every cover letter should be uniquely written for each of the jobs you're applying for and not repurposed.  

Formatting is important too.

While it’s easy to focus on word selection or questions like, “How long should a cover letter be?” formatting is a priority as well. Keep the margins standard, pick a legible and common font like Arial or Times New Roman, and font size of 11 or 12. 

Use bullet points for organization. In your second or third paragraph, when you mention your qualifications, list each of your qualities as a bullet point. 

Bullet points make your copy “skimmable,” so if a hiring manager is short on time, they might skip the paragraphs and simply read the bullets. 

Complement your resume, don’t repeat it.

Your resume offers a snapshot of your job experience, education, and skill set. Avoid repeating information from your resume in your cover letter. It should complement your resume instead of being a copy of it. Rather than duplicating the bullet points listed on your resume under your most recent job, for example, craft sentences that build on those bullets for your cover letter. 

Be concise.

A cover letter is a short document, so every word must count. Make your sentences concise and clear. When you’re finished writing, go back through your cover letter and remove any “fillers,” or phrases that don’t add value to your letter. 

Have a clear call to action.

Include a call to action at the end of your cover letter, such as a suggestion to schedule an interview to further discuss your qualifications. It’s one of the last things mentioned in your letter to encourage the hiring manager to take quick action. 

Getting started

Craft your next cover letter by taking Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters from the University of Maryland. To further enhance your job hunt, consider courses like Successful Interviewing or Career Planning: A Path to Employment .


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The Do’s of Writing a Spectacular Cover Letter

The old saying, "You only have one chance to make a first impression," is definitely true when meeting someone in person, and it is just as important when you are writing to someone regarding a potential job opportunity. Yes, some say that employers may not look at cover letters or that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) may not pick up cover letters, but don't take the chance of being disqualified for not including one. Below are some ideas to consider when writing a cover letter so you can set yourself apart from other applicants:

The goal of the cover letter is to grab the reader's attention by convincing them you are a great candidate, make them want to read your resume and profile, and, of course, call you in for an interview so you can brilliantly sell yourself in person just like you did on paper. Good luck!

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how long should an engineering cover letter be

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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? The Ideal Length in 2023

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? The Ideal Length in 2023

Maciej Duszyński, CPRW

As seen in:

Before we get to discussing the ideal cover letter length, remember: it's not the only thing that matters. You must know how to put the space you have to good use.

In this article: 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from  20+ professional cover letter templates  that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

Create your cover letter now

sample resume and cover letter set

Sample cover letter for a resume— See more cover letter examples and create your cover letter here .

If you have already found the answer to your question, you may want to explore other subjects related to cover letter writing:

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

A good cover letter contains 3 to 4 concise paragraphs and no more than 400 words in total. For entry-level candidates, 200 words is the sweet spot. Ideally, your cover letter contents should take up slightly more than half a page.

Here are the numbers to benchmark your cover letter against:

Why so short? , you might ask. Think about the main purpose of a cover letter: your cover letter introduces you to the recruiter and it’s supposed to get them interested in you as a candidate. As such, it has to be brief and to-the-point—it must strike the right balance between the length and the message. 

Recruiters receive dozens of job applications for each position. If instead of the information they’re looking for, they come across a story of your life, they’ll skip it without batting an eyelash.

And here's an example of a one-page cover letter with the right page, paragraph, and word count:

One Page Cover Letter—Example of a Cover With the Right Number of Words

Sample cover letter made with our builder: See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here .

The example above shows a cover letter outline . Its length is perfect for a PDF file that you can send as an email attachment.

You may want to write your cover letter in the body of the email you’ll be sending to the hiring manager.

If that’s the case, just skip the cover letter heading and start with Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name] . Plus, make it as compact as possible—get rid of all the fluff and do your best to reduce the message to the absolute minimum. Take a look at how it's done in the example below where the main body is only 120 words:

Short Email Cover Letter—Example

I'm very excited about the software engineer position at Igatronix, Inc. I'm confident I can help you become the #1 SaaS video editing platform on the web. For one, I led the team that won the Bossie for an online video editing application.

To me, the Bossie wasn't just an award, but a culmination of:

I've been a huge fan of Igatronix products for several years. It's your commitment to letting employees guide the life cycle that delivers your success. You value self-motivated, highly creative software engineers, and my record speaks for itself.

Can we set up a time...

The trick is to use experience bullet points to your advantage. They not only make your strongest selling points prominent but also help you save a lot of space.

And, just like with a paper cover letter, make sure you sell:

If you don’t know how to write a good cover letter email, this article will guide you by the hand: How to Write an Email Cover Letter

For more information on how to write a short and sweet cover letter, check out this guide: Short Cover Letter Examples [5+ Samples for Job Application]

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a  professional resume template here for free .

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When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

How to Arrange Your Cover Letter to Make the Most of Its Length

Here’s a typical scenario:

You typed up your entire cover letter and… realized it’s more of a novelette than a letter.

Don’t worry, though, we’re here to help.

Let's start with frequently asked questions about the cover letter length—

Can a cover letter be 2 pages?

A cover letter should never be 2 pages. A 2-page cover letter violates the cover letter definition. Namely, a cover letter is a brief description of why you fit the job. In rare cases, a  resume can be two pages if you've got enough experience .

Is my cover letter too long?

A cover letter is too long if it's a full page or longer. Three-page or two-page cover letters are a waste of paper. A cover letter should be about three paragraphs of facts explaining why you're perfect for the position.

Should a cover letter be one page?

A cover letter should always be less than one page. Short cover letters get more eye-time with managers. A cover letter that's less than a page sends an instant signal to the manager that your letter won't run over to page 2.

How many words should a cover letter be?

Cover letter word count should be between 200 and 400 words (300 is the sweet spot.) Why? Because that's the right length to fill up slightly more than half a page with 12-point font. But that's not how you'll get the interview.

How long should an electronic cover letter be?

An electronic cover letter should be the length of cover letters on paper. Namely, three paragraphs, 250-300 words, and less than a full page. The difference is, write a great subject line and leave the address section off the top.

Should a cover letter be double spaced?

A cover letter should not be double spaced. Always single space a cover letter. That includes the address. The only place to double space a cover letter is in between the paragraphs. That is: insert a blank line after each paragraph ends.

What about academic cover letter length?

A cover letter for an academic position should be no longer than two pages, but long enough to show off your accomplishments. Research, teaching, departmental service, and relevant accolades. The typical academic cover letter is usually one and a half to two pages long (or about five to eight paragraphs.)

Why does the right length of cover letter matter?

The right cover letter length matters because it sends a signal you're worth looking into. But how you make a cover letter the right length decides how many interviews you get.

So the real question is,  how do you make your cover letter the right length ?

This is how to get your cover letter length just right:

Identify what’s relevant and ignore all the rest. How? Treat the job offer as a guide and only touch upon the things it mentions. Say what you can do to help the company in the areas specified by the recruiter in the ad.

Cover letters introduce you to the recruiter. So make sure it’s an introduction, not the story of your entire life. If you have no idea how to go about this, read our guide on how to write a cover letter .

Have someone read your cover letter and ask them for a critique. The thing is that it’s very hard to see redundancies and inconsistencies in your own piece of writing. Give it to someone who’ll look at it with fresh eyes.

If the right cover letter length is about 400 words, do your best to stay below this limit. Also, double-check if the employer hasn’t specified their own limits anywhere. If they did, stick to these.

Imposing a limit on the length of your cover letter will make you less likely to give everything away too soon. In other words, do show your best side on the cover letter, but keep some aces up your sleeve for the interview.

White space is your friend, so don't fill up the entire page with densely packed paragraphs. Set one-inch margins all around, left-align the contents, choose an elegant cover letter font , and don't go below 11pt in terms of the font size. But don't overdo it. Adding double spaces between lines of text is not such a great idea—stick to single line spacing or 1.15 at the maximum. 

Still not sure how to format your cover letter to optimize its length? Head straight to our guide on Proper Cover Letter Format

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here.  Here's what it may look like:

matching set of resume and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

The ideal cover letter length is:

But it's the things that make it the right length that land the interview. Fluff should never add to cover letter length.

The ideal length of a cover letter should be decided by how long it takes to prove three things:

Why this job, why this company, and why you.

Want to know more about how long to make a cover letter? What frustrates you about the cover letter length? Give us a shout out in the comments! We love to help!

Maciej Duszyński, CPRW

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What Is a Cover Letter for a Job? Definition, Purpose, Meaning

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What’s the Ideal Length for a Cover Letter? —Plus Tips to Get Yours There

Hot jobs on the muse.

person sitting at a window table in a cafe typing on laptop, with two plants on the table and more in the background

When you have a task to complete, it helps to know what the end product should look like. It's especially true when you’re doing something you might find difficult—like writing a cover letter . How long should it be? What information do you need to include?

Hiring managers and recruiters are busy people, so you don’t want to disqualify yourself by writing a cover letter that’s too long. But you do want to make sure your cover letter is effective. “The cover letter should serve as an introduction to your resume, highlighting why you’re interested in the position, what you’re looking for in your next role, and how you can potentially add value to the position or company,” says Muse career coach Yolanda Owens , who has over 20 years of recruiting experience. 

So how much space do you have to do all that? And how can you make the best use of that space?

How long should a cover letter be?

The ideal cover letter length is:

At least that’s the approximate consensus we came to based on research and input from a few experts who have worked as hiring managers, recruiters, or both.

If this feels short, “Keep in mind that the cover letter is not a tell-all of everything you've done,” says Muse coach Emily Liou , a recruiter and HR professional. “You just want enough to position yourself as a fit and to pique the curiosity of the reader.” You don’t need pages and pages to do that.

In a survey of 205 HR professionals, ResumeLab found that 42% of respondents preferred cover letters between half and one page and 40% preferred cover letters that were less than half a page. Only 18% said they preferred cover letters longer than one page. Muse coach Steven Davis , a technical recruiter, advocates for a cover letter that “can be comfortably read in less than a minute.”

How do you write a cover letter that's just the right length?

Here are a few tips that'll get your cover letter to the ideal length:

1. Pay attention to your structure.

You may remember the five-paragraph essay from school: introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion paragraph. Cover letters are structured similarly.

Basically, you should lay out your cover letter like this:

2. Figure out what matters to the employer.

“This is a great time to dissect what is most important to this position,” Liou says, so you can focus your cover letter on what your prospective employer cares about most. Go back to the job description and read it thoroughly. What’s listed first and what’s repeated? From there, Davis says, you should be able to identify the top skills and experiences they’re looking for.

Then, think about what in your background most exemplifies these qualifications—with an emphasis on situations where you’ve made an impact for your past employers, Liou says. These are the experiences you should recount in your cover letter.

3. Use concise examples to pique your readers’ interest.

Davis suggests using the “the STAR format without any details to create curiosity and motivate the interviewer to review the resume.” If you’re unfamiliar, the STAR method is a way of telling stories in an interview where you make sure that you hit on the situation, task, action, and result of the experience you’re recounting. Using a compact version of the STAR method in your cover letter will help show the impact you’ve had in past roles and how without adding too much length. So you might write something like:

“When my last company redesigned their website, I took the lead on layout, and by working as a constant liaison between our product team and our users, I helped produce a website that our users found 50% more intuitive and drew 33% more repeat users.”

4. Go beyond your resume—without regurgitating it.

“The cover letter should be a supplemental piece to your resume, not a summary,” Owens says. So don’t waste space regurgitating other parts of your application. “Use the cover letter to tell the employer what you want them to know about you that’s not on your resume,” or anywhere else, Owens says.

Focus your precious page or less on highlighting your relevant achievements and explicitly connecting your resume to the position. Don’t worry about including all of the context and details about your past jobs. For anything you talk about in a cover letter, your resume can “continue your narrative—filling in the remaining details of the where, when, and what of your work experiences and history,” Owens says.

5. Consider using bullet points.

And we don’t mean repeating your resume bullet points . We mean using a few bullet points to concisely relay a few key pieces of information that aren’t on your resume, but contribute to your qualifications as a candidate, without taking up too much space.

For example, Owens says you might create a “What I bring to the table” section with three to four bullet points (one or two sentences each). In a section like this, you can touch on a few more disparate topics such as your management or leadership style, pain points you can help your next employer with, or work environments you have experience thriving in, Owens says.

6. Use standard formatting.

Did you ever make your font size a bit larger or choose a slightly wider font to hit a page count on an essay for school? What about widening those margins? Did you ever do the opposite to slip in under a page maximum without having to do another editing pass at 3 a.m.? (Guilty!)

These tactics won’t fly for your cover letter (or your resume for that matter). Instead, stick to standard, easy-to-read formatting. Generally this means:

Don’t make your cover letter harder to read by cramming as much onto a page as possible. Also keep in mind that your cover letter often passes through the same applicant tracking system (ATS) that your resume does—so any flashy formatting could trip up the software that parses your application materials.

7. Trim the excess.

If your cover letter is still too long, take another look and trim out anything extra that doesn’t need to be there. Some things to cut include:

Read More: How to Cut Your Cover Letter Down to One Page (Because Any Longer and No One's Reading)

8. Follow any instructions in the job description.

Finally, all of the above are just guidelines. The best indicator of what an employer is looking for in a cover letter—length-wise or otherwise—is the employer itself.

So if a job posting tells you that a cover letter should be a different length than we’ve indicated, default to the job description. If a job posting tells you that a cover letter should include different things than we’ve indicated, default to the job description. If a job posting tells you that you shouldn’t include a cover letter at all, default to the job description.

how long should an engineering cover letter be

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be in 2023?

Background Image

Finally, an organization posted your dream job. You crafted a flawless resume and now you’re ready to apply. You land on the cover letter section of the application and see that it is optional. Is it truly optional?

Will not submitting make me less likely to land the job? Where do I even start and how long should the cover letter be?

These are some things that might run through your head. But don’t panic, we are here to help. No matter what your career level is, your cover letter can set you apart from the other applicants. But how much do you have to write?

This can be a complicated question. Too much text? The hiring manager might glance over it. Too short? The recruiter may think that you didn’t put much thought or effort into writing the cover letter . 

Cover letters should range from a half-page to one full page. Your cover letter should never exceed one page in length.

how long should a cover letter be

How to Keep Your Cover Letter to One Page

Tip #1: keep it concise.

While the cover letter is a great way to showcase your personality, it is also very important to be concise. Hiring managers are sifting through dozens, and maybe even hundreds, of applications.

They do not have time to read a full two-page article about your daily tasks. Instead, highlight any relevant experiences that show your qualifications for the specific job.

Demonstrate your passion for the industry and end the letter. The decision-maker will appreciate your brevity and may even reward you with an interview . 

Tip #2: Highlight Only Relevant Experiences

Unless the employer requests a specific word count, keep it short. Take only the amount of space required to show that you are an ideal candidate for the job.

Highlight your qualifications and any relevant stories. It’s important to be specific, and not regurgitate the content on your resume. 

It is very important here to showcase how your past achievements can help the company solve their current challenges and how you will use your skills if chosen for the position.

Doing so will show the recruiter or hiring manager the value you can bring to their organization. 

matching resume and cover letter

Tip #3: Break Your Cover Letter into Sections

An effective cover letter contains three to four paragraphs. It’s important to keep the sentences short so the reader can quickly navigate your cover letter.  

Paragraph #1: The Intro

The first paragraph should grab the decision-maker’s attention. This is an opportunity to show your interest in the position and knowledge of the company. Make sure you address your cover letter to the correct person or department. Always be sure to research the company and customize each cover letter to the position you are applying for. 

Example: “I am excited to submit my application for the position of [insert position name] with [insert company name]. I have watched your growth for years and really appreciate the devotion to serving your customer’s needs.” 

Paragraph #2: Your Qualifications

The second paragraph should highlight relevant stories or stats that impress your qualifications. For example, “In the previous company, I grew sales by 150% in my first year and 200% in my second year.” It is helpful if you can be specific in how you achieved success or benefited the company in some way. This highlights what you bring to the table and how you can make an impact on the hiring manager’s business. 

Paragraph #3: Your Interest in the Company

The third paragraph, if you choose to include it, can speak to what drew you to apply to the specific company. This can sway the hiring manager's decision by showing passion and loyalty to the company. 

Paragraph #4: The Closing

The final paragraph should reiterate your interest in the position. It is a great time to thank the reader for their consideration and request an in-person meeting. It’s important to have a call-to-action so the reader knows what to do next. Always include detailed contact information. 

Tip #4: Experience Level

Cover letters can vary based on your experience level. If you are applying for jobs right out of college, don’t include metrics measured in school, such as GPA, unless requested. Instead, focus on your experiences, projects and achievements that make you a strong candidate. 

If you are in the middle of your career, pick out relevant accomplishments and state your experience level. For example, “With 12 years of teaching experience, I am writing to express my interest in the open position in your Mathematics Department.” 

If you have more experience, you likely have more relevant qualifications and stories. This may entice you to make your cover letter longer. Do not fall into the trap.

Longer does not mean better . Select a few key successes and leave others for the interview process. 

cover letter one page length

Tip #5: Formatting

The format is just as important as the length of your cover letter. Pay attention to the amount of white space on the page. More white space keeps the content easier to read for the recruiter or hiring manager.

You want to make sure that you use a font that is legible (as the ones handpicked by our team together with recruiters). Keep standard margins and align your text to the left. 

Writing a cover letter can be intimidating. If you remember to keep your writing concise and highlight only your relevant experiences, you will be on your way to snagging an interview in no time.

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5 Things to Double-Check Before Submitting a Cover Letter

how long should an engineering cover letter be

Before you make that final step, it's important to double-check a few things to make sure your cover letter is perfect. Job hunters are often in a hurry to meet application deadlines. Sometimes there's more than enough time for applying, but they are simply negligent.

After all that effort, the last thing you want is to send a flawed cover letter. We'll list 5 things you must check in the cover letter before submitting it to a potential employer.

1. The Length

At high school, college and university, 500 words is considered the bare minimum for essays. Other projects, such as term papers and research papers, are much longer.

It seems like we translate this "minimum" to everything else we write. When people start blogging, they try to meet that self-imposed requirement. The same thing happens with cover letters. The only problem is: 500 words is too much for a cover letter. Hiring managers don't have time or nerves to read application documents that look like essays.

The cover letter should never be longer than a single page . Although employers don't mention a specific word count in the requirements, the unwritten rule is to aim for 250-300 words. For the sake of readability, you should divide the content into 3-4 short paragraphs.

If your cover letter is longer than that, you should try to make it shorter and sweeter before sending the application.

2. The Hiring Manager's Name

Are you addressing this application to the right person? When you read cover letter samples, you noticed they all started with a salutation to the hiring manager.

That's important because it makes your application focused and relevant. The person who reads it knows it's addressed directly to them. In addition, this small detail shows you made an effort to find out more about the company before applying for the job. You're not sending a generic cover letter you used countless times before.

If you already used the hiring manager's name in the cover letter, double-check the spelling and the title. If you're not sure whether it's a Ms. or Mrs. you're addressing, do your best to find out. The company's name is just as important! You include it in the section where you address the letter to the HR department, and you probably mention it along the text. You better check you spelled it correctly.

3. Your Contact Information

A single letter in the email address makes a difference. It would be devastating for you to send a great application that gets the interest of the hiring manager, but to get the phone number or email address wrong.

These things come naturally to you. You've written and told your contact details to many people before. That's why it's common for job applicants to skip double-checking that section of the cover letter. Mistakes are not impossible, though. Make sure you got your address, phone number, email and all other contact information right.

4. The Tone

Many job applicants make the mistake of making their cover letters overly formal. "I am writing this cover letter with the purpose to convey my interest in the open position at your establishment." Just, don't! Yes, you're addressing an authority. Yes, you should show respect in the cover letter. But no, you shouldn't write in a completely unnatural way.

You don't want the hiring manager to see you as a flattery, robotic person. You want them to see you as a sincere and approachable candidate who would fit into the organizational culture. You want to make them want to work with you.

If you notice you used an overly formal tone in your cover letter, you should make some changes before sending that application.

5. The Spelling and Grammar

A single its instead of it's makes a huge difference. In the era of communication, we're used to typing with the speed of light. Unfortunately, that means we're making more spelling and grammar mistakes than ever. The autocorrect function is cool, but it can trick you in ways you don't even imagine.

Your word processor contains a grammar and spelling check function, but you shouldn't fully rely on it. Make sure to read the cover letter, word by word, and fix the mistakes you notice. Don't stop there! We're talking about double-checking, remember? Use one or more of the following tools to make sure you'll get it perfect:

• BestEssays - a professional editing service. It's affordable and really effective. You'll get your cover letter fixed and improved from all aspects.

• Hemingway App - an automated tool that checks the readability of your text. Remember how we told you not to use overly formal language? This tool will warn you about it. It also gives you suggestions on improvements.

• Ginger Grammar Checker - an automated text corrector that helps you improve the spelling, syntax structure, and grammar in your cover letter. It catches problems your usual word processor ignores.

Karen Dikson is a teacher, blogger and small business owner from New Jersey. Her works have been published on Huffington Post and other prominent outlets. 

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Career Development Tips

How long should a cover letter be (with tips).

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Answering 'how long should a cover better be'.

Along with a well-written resume, a spectacular cover letter can greatly increase your prospects of earning your dream job. However, a cover letter, just like a resume, must be of proper length to be effective. Learn more about how long a cover letter should be and the basics of cover letters in this overview.

How long should a cover letter be?

The ideal length for a cover letter is between a full page and a half page. Cover letters of this length are usually brief, yet contain enough information for the employer to decide about their candidacy.

There’s no standard, one-size-fits-all guideline concerning the length of cover letters. However, as with resumes, it’s advisable to keep things concise. The reason is simple: recruiters and HR managers have to sift through dozens of applications and might be tempted to skip yours if it’s too long.

Avoid extremes when writing your cover letter. For example, avoid writing quarter-page or two-page cover letters. If your cover letter is too short, the recruiter may take it as a sign of lack of diligence. When it’s too long, you may appear unable to get your thoughts across concisely.

How many words should a cover letter have?

The ideal cover letter should typically be between 250 and 400 words. This way, you can keep the letter brief and informative at the same time. However, employers have different requirements, so it’s difficult to recommend a standard word count for cover letters. Before you write your cover letter, check to see if the company in question specifies a word count for the cover letter. In such situations, endeavor to write within the required word count.

While writing your cover letter , try not to focus on maintaining a certain word count instead of including important information. Having a word count in your head while writing may stifle creativity. Instead, write freely and then edit for conciseness later. This can save you time and ensure you don’t waste time during your first draft focusing on meeting the word count.

What should you include in a cover letter?

If your cover letter has the ideal length but has incorrect formatting, it can lose its effectiveness. Therefore, pay attention to proper formatting when you write your cover letter. Here are sections to include when formatting your cover letter:

The heading should include your name, address, and contact information. You may choose to put your online profile link in your heading to streamline contact information.

In your salutation, address the cover letter to a specific individual. Writing ‘ To Whom it May Concern ,’ on a cover letter is common, but try to avoid using it to give your letter a more personal touch. If you can’t find the person’s name online, ask the HR department. Not only does this show thoughtfulness, but it also adds a personal touch to your cover letter and makes it more attention grabbing.


The introduction should be a clear statement that demonstrates the purpose of the letter to a reader. You should include the name of the position you’re applying for in the introduction so that hiring managers immediately know what skills and experiences they should look for.

You can also show off your knowledge of the company and emphasize your interest in the job with the introductory paragraph. For example, your first paragraph may go like this:

I wish to apply to the position of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Director with Jane Energy Co. I have observed your dedication to giving back to society and would love to coordinate such efforts for greater impact.

Skills and qualifications

In the second paragraph, highlight your skills and qualifications and show why the employer should hire you. Also, list past achievements to give the employer a glimpse of what you can give them.

Be careful not to go overboard when listing your skills and achievements—remember your cover letter must be concise. Ideally, outline your most important skills relevant to the position.

The same applies to achievements: list only those that relate to the job you’re applying for to increase your chances of getting the role. You can even use a single, but comprehensive, achievement to exemplify your work history. Make sure to provide context for when listing an achievement and clearly state your role in it.

Closing paragraph

The closing paragraph should re-emphasize your interest in the job and appreciate the recruiter for reading your application. Make sure to include a call-to-action (CTA) in the closing paragraph, as they can increase your chances of getting a response. This is a good place to include your contact information to make contacting you easier.

The nature of your signature and information to include in it depends on the means you want to use to send your cover letter. When sending a hard copy cover letter, your signature should contain your name and handwritten signature. If you’re sending a digital copy of the letter via e-mail, add a scanned image of your signature after the close.

If you’re emailing the cover letter, a handwritten signature is unnecessary. Just write out your full name after the close to complete the signature.

You should try to keep the contact information in your signature to the bare essentials. One template for a signature could look like this:

Best regards,

[Email address]

[Phone number]

Alternatively, you can also choose to include your physical address under your signature:

[City, State, Zip Code]

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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? (Examples)

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300+ Interview Questions with Expert Answers.

How long should your cover letter be

If you’re wondering how long a cover letter should be, this article has everything you need to know (including exactly how many words to make your cover letter).

I’m going to share why most job seekers are making their cover letters far too long, and why you will likely get more job interviews by writing less in your cover letter.

Let’s get started…

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

Cover letters should be one page long and total 75 to 250 words. This recommendation applies to both printed and email cover letters. It’s okay if your cover letter doesn’t take up an entire page, but it should never exceed one full page.

Job seekers needing to explain gaps in employment , a recent change in career path, etc., may want to utilize more words in their cover letter than someone with a more standard background.

A job seeker who is staying within their current industry and career path (e.g. moving from Software Engineer to Senior Software Engineer) and not needing to explain a lengthy work gap should aim to be on the lower end of the recommended cover letter word count mentioned above — somewhere between 70 and 150 words.

As an example, my favorite cover letter template from Harvard Business Review has only 76 words:

How long should a cover letter be - example of ideal word count

As you customize this cover letter, the word count will likely rise a bit, but it’ll remain much shorter than what most job seekers send. And that’s a good thing!

This type of letter is going to be very different than what most job seekers are sending and what you’ve seen recommended online, and that’s often a plus.

Coming up soon, I’ll explain why a shorter cover letter may improve your odds of hearing back on a job application.

How Many Paragraphs Should a Cover Letter Include?

The typical cover letter should contain three to six paragraphs. Each paragraph should be relatively short, containing two to four sentences. This is especially important in the first paragraph of your cover letter, where you want to entice the reader and encourage them to keep reading by providing a short, punchy opening.

In general, when writing to grab someone’s attention, focus heavily on making the first paragraph compelling, because this is your first impression or “elevator pitch,” for why they should keep reading.

Now that you know how long a cover letter should be, let’s look at some specific benefits of using this length, which is shorter than some people recommend.

Reasons to Consider a Shorter Cover Letter

Now that you know how many words a cover letter should be, let’s talk about why I recommend this as the ideal length, even though some career experts recommend your cover letter be longer.

There are four things that happen when you keep your cover letter relatively short…

1. You Stand Out by Being Different

Here’s an example of a typical full-page cover letter that many job seekers are sending:

how long should an engineering cover letter be

If you’ve sent something like that in the past, it’s NOT your fault…

Almost every website with cover letter templates recommends this format, and it’s what you’re constantly told to send.

But that’s the beauty of limiting your cover letter to my ideal cover letter length of 75 to 250 words. It’s different than what everyone else is doing!

From the first glance, you’re showing the hiring manager that your cover letter is unique and worth reading closely . You show that you’re not going to bore them half to sleep with yet another generic letter containing info from a template or info that’s already on your resume.

Whereas, if you send a full-page cover letter like the image/example above, the hiring manager is thinking, “Okay, here’s another huge page of info to read through that’s probably based on a template.”

This happens to them over and over, all day.

That brings me to my next benefit…

2. You Get Your Cover Letter Read (Not Skimmed!)

Most job seekers send cover letters that so long-winded that nobody wants to read them. The hiring manager may read to the second or third paragraph, but they’re unlikely to through to the end.

Beyond that, job hunters send cover letters that repeat information from their resume, which doesn’t provide any value to the hiring manager or recruiter.

But because your cover letter is short, and ideally has small paragraphs, it’s inviting to read. Hiring managers open your email or letter and think, “Great, I can read this no problem.”

So they read your cover letter from start to finish without skipping a word!

This is why you should always send the hiring manager a short cover letter where each line has a purpose and message and does something to sell them on why you deserve the interview.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Test it! Send half of your cover letters in the standard, full-page style seen above, but with the other half, test what I’m suggesting here. Greatly reduce the word count, get right to the point, only offer info that’s not on your resume.

We’ve now looked at two reasons why the full-page cover letter is not the ideal length/approach. But I’ve got two more reasons for you…

3. You Draw Attention to Your Strongest Points/Skills

If you’re naming 20 different skills and qualifications in your cover letter, it’s hard for a recruiter or hiring manager to pick out the most important pieces.

Whereas, if you just name your three or four strongest arguments for why you’d be a great fit for their job description, those points will stand out (and get read, as mentioned above).

Sometimes less is more, and with cover letters, it’s often the case!

So this is another factor to consider when deciding how long your cover letter should be.

4. You Get Your “Call to Action” Read So You Win More Interviews

Finally, you should end each cover letter with a “Call to Action,” which I’ll explain in the next section.

This is where you ask for the interview, which is something many job seekers don’t do properly (or don’t do at all) in their cover letter.

And by keeping your letter brief, this closing paragraph comes relatively quickly… sometimes as the third or fourth paragraph… so it’s much more likely to get the reader’s full attention which means you’ll get more interviews.

Recommended Cover Letter Font Size

The best font size for your cover letter is 12 points, whether you’re sending a printed or an email cover letter. Avoid fancy fonts and choose a simple, easy-to-read font like Calibri or Arial. Include plenty of white space and small, punchy paragraphs. It’s better to have multiple, concise paragraphs in your cover letter than one or two very long paragraphs. This helps with readability.

How to End Your Cover Letter: Ask for the Interview

This is one other mistake a lot of job seekers make with their cover letters, along with repeating info on the resume and just being far too long-winded. They don’t ask for the interview in their closing paragraph!

The whole point of the cover letter is to win you job interviews . So after you’ve got the specific word count you want, make sure to finish up by actually asking the hiring manager to call you and set up a time to discuss in more detail!

Here’s an example of how you could conclude an email cover letter:

I’d love to discuss the position over the phone and provide a bit more context for how I can help you in this role. Are you available for a phone call later this week or early next week? My phone number is 555-218-4987.

Or, simply use the cover letter conclusion from the first example in this article, from Harvard Business Review:

I have attached my resume for your review and would welcome the chance to speak with you sometime.

However, I prefer a slightly stronger conclusion to a cover letter that really prompts the hiring manager to reply to a direct question. That should get you more responses from your cover letter, no matter your cover letter length!

Conclusion: How Many Words Should a Cover Letter Be?

To reiterate how long a cover letter should be, I recommend sticking to 250 words or less and never exceeding one page.

It’s beneficial to keep your letter short and concise for both a printed cover letter and a cover letter sent by email.

The shorter format allows you to focus on your strongest points and grab the hiring manager’s attention without overwhelming them with too much text or info. This will help you get more interviews and separate you from other job seekers who send long, generic, cut-and-paste cover letters with their applications.

However, as mentioned earlier, the length of your cover letter will vary depending on the industry (in a very formal, traditional industry, you may want to go for a slightly longer word count).

If you have an unusual scenario to explain, then your ideal cover letter length may be longer, too.

So don’t take the advice above as a hard-and-fast rule, but just a general guideline on how long a typical cover letter should be to win more job interviews.

As a final step, make sure to proofread everything! Sending a cover letter with a typo or mistake can cost you the job interview even if you have great qualifications and writing style.

More cover letter resources:

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Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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Simon T. Brainsample 75 Via Limone New York, NY 11220

Your advertisement in Job Choices '05 prompted me to contact you about entry-level positions in electrical engineering at Fawlty Systems, LTD. The product engineering program at your company is very appealing. I am particularly interested in your project on digital systems. In May of this year I will receive a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from The Cooper Union and I hope that we will have an opportunity to discuss employment possibilities before that time.

In addition to the knowledge I've obtained from my education, my experience as an assistant to a plant engineer has provided me with an excellent background in the practical aspects of electrical engineering.

During my years at The Cooper Union, I have taken on many additional responsibilities. As a freshman, I managed the Student Council and played varsity tennis. In my junior year I was employed by the Student Services Office where I received first-hand experience in organization, teamwork and responsibility. I hope that you will seriously consider my enclosed résumé, which provides full details of my qualification.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to speaking with you. I may be reached between the hours of 9am and 5pm at 212 355.4343.

Simon T. Brainsample

Simon T. Ellis 1 Astor Place New York, NY 10003

I learned about the Electrical Engineering position with Anchor Systems, Ltd on the Cooper Career Connection Web site, and I am interested in further discussing this exciting opportunity. As a graduating electrical engineer undergraduate student at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, my academic background, coupled with my relevant work experience, has given me the tools and ability necessary to add value to the position, and ultimately your organization.

My interest in electrical engineering is long standing and my well-rounded background makes me an excellent candidate for the Electrical Engineering position. I secured an IT Analyst Internship with Credit Suisse First Boston in the summer of my freshman year, and gained exposure to the financial industry, while enhancing their software by developing search subroutine and upload script modules. As a sophomore, I served as Treasurer on the Student Council and played varsity tennis. In my junior year, I attained a position in the Student Services Office where I received first-hand experience in organization, teamwork, and responsibility. I have earned several awards while a student at Cooper Union, including the Bausch and Lomb Award for Excellence in Science, in June 2005 and Dean's List in the Fall of 2004.

Please find my attached résumé, which provides full details of my qualification. Feel free to contact me at (212) 353-4567 or [email protected] for any following up purposes. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to further discussing the Electrical Engineering opportunity with you.


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