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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be

Whether you’re applying for a job or internship, you need to grab the attention of decision makers quickly. A high-quality cover letter does more to make a great first impression than anything. It can help potential employers decide whether to schedule an interview or not. Although many things go into this professional introduction, one of the first questions focuses on length i.e. “How long a cover letter should be”

How long should a cover letter be? Too short, and you risk getting passed over for lack of information or appearing underqualified. Too long, and you may bore or frustrate the recipient. You could even come across as unfocused and lacking knowledge about the particular job you’re applying for.

Take the time to dive into the details about cover letter length. It will increase your chances of landing the job or internship of your dreams.

Should a Cover Letter Be Short Or Long?

Figuring out the best length for a job cover letter is crucial when it comes to making the type of impression that moves you further along the hiring path. First of all, always follow the directions of the potential employer or recruiter. Second, consider the following insights to balance appropriate details and brevity to catch the right type of attention. Cover letter templates from MyResumeStar can help during the design phase.

Why Length Matters – Recruiter Expectations

The people who receive your cover letter and resume have to sift through many applications and narrow things down for the real decision makers. If you waste their time, they will not give you any more in the form of an interview or callback. Writing a concise letter shows that you respect the recruiter’s time. Giving them only the information that makes the most impact helps you land in the “Yes” pile and not the recycling bin.

It is impossible to guess the precise number of words you should include in your next job application letter. There aren’t specific rules about that. They should be only one page and follow all the recommendations about layout and design that give a professional impression. The more you know about the specific organization or recruiter, the better you can tailor things to their needs and interests.

Length of Different Cover Letter Sections

The simple sections like salutation, contact information, and closing have very short, set lengths. Directly after the greeting comes your introduction. Keep this to one short paragraph, purposeful, and mention the position you’re applying for. Add no more than three body paragraphs with specific details about relevant experience, skills, and achievements. Make sure the recipient can tell how you can contribute to their team. If you include a conclusion, make it no more than two or three sentences. If your cover letter is concise and short enough, the reader will not need a complete overview of what they just read.

Mistakes to Avoid When Crafting a Cover Letter

Tons of potential mistakes exist when it comes to letters that go with your resume. When focusing on length along, you can err on either side: too long or too short. Above all else, it is the content that matters. This is your introduction to someone very important in your career journey.

Don’t leave out important sections or information. Recruiters will assume that you left things out because you had nothing to say. Always include contact information, details about the job you’re applying for, and skills and experience that fill the position perfectly.

Avoid too-long cover letters. No one wants to read a novel about every detail of your life. Keep things concise and carefully tailored to the position. A professional always crafts unique cover letters for different applications. Rambling, extraneous information, or too much ‘small talk’ will make you look unprepared and potentially bothersome to work with.

Make sure it isn’t too short. If you don’t give sufficient information, how will a recruiter know enough to even consider you? Lack of details pertinent to the job description makes it look like you do not know what you are doing or lack the skills necessary to fill the position.

Tips to Keep Your Cover Letter Concise and Powerful

  • Use a cover letter template with a professional design and layout.
  • Focus on key points in short paragraphs.
  • Avoid repetition and unnecessary words.
  • Edit carefully to tailor the content for the specific job.

Since most job applications are online these days, you may run into cover letter length constraints created by the platform itself. Do not try to truncate your information or shove too much into a smaller text field. The tools at My Resume Star can help create the right length that gets positive attention.

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be for an Internship?

Cover letters for internships share many similarities with those used during your job search. You are still applying for a position and want to put your best foot forward. These focus more on academic achievement and school-related activities. You might not have a lot of relevant work experience to share at this point. Therefore, it is generally easier to focus on brevity and clarity in these letters. Make your single page impactful to increase your chances of landing a coveted internship.

A Brief Highlight of Academic Coursework and Achievement

Keep this part of your internship cover letter short by including only the most recent, relevant, and impressive academic activities. This demonstrates that you know the subjects you will work with at the company you want to intern with. Mention key courses and especially awards or accolades officially received. For example, high GPA, Dean’s List recognition, and academic scholarship awards may tip the scales in your favor.

Your cover letter is not the place to list your entire university experience or state exactly what grades you got each semester. Those may be included on your resume if pertinent to the internship. Summarize all this in two to three sentences. Do not include lists in your cover letter. That may organize the information neatly but will make things seem longer and unfocused.

Quick Tips to Sell Yourself as the Perfect Intern

What is the company or organization looking for in an intern? You must demonstrate your skills, interests, and enthusiasm in a one-page cover letter. It’s an opportunity to sell yourself as a candidate that their team will want to work with, too.

  • Research the company and opportunity to know exactly what they are looking for.
  • Start the letter with an enthusiastic introduction to your pertinent skills and interests.
  • Showcase soft skills like communication and problem solving with concrete examples.
  • Demonstrate what you will bring to them and what they will do for your professional goals.
  • End with a confident thank you and call to action. Let them know you’re available for an interview at any time.

Avoid These Things to Keep Your Internship Cover Letter Short

Anything irrelevant to the organization and purpose of the internship has no place in a cover letter. This is not the place to share that you worked three summers at a fast-food restaurant or volunteered at an animal shelter if the business has nothing to do with veterinary sciences or the pet industry. Also, do not repeat everything on your resume. If they want to know more, they’ll look at it after they read the letter.

Do not gush about how much you want the internship and how much it will help you fulfill your career dreams. While recruiters like enthusiasm, they ultimately want someone who will bring the company benefits and not solely the other way around. Stay professional, use quality language skills without excess jargon, and avoid generic phrases.

The Length of a Cover Letter Broken Down Into Sections

All cover letters should be just one page unless otherwise specified by the particular organization you’re applying to. Here is how that breaks down:

Header A few lines with your name, contact information, and date. Use professional letter format without indents.

Greeting A single line that addresses the recruiter, hiring manager, or other specific individual responsible for making decisions about the job or internships.

First Paragraph State your purpose, explain your interest in one sentence, and give a one to two sentence summary of your key qualifications and experience.

Second ParagraphExpand on those with more specific examples. This can include academic accolades or past work experience. In some cases, a third paragraph is needed, but make sure you edit them for tight, concise language.

Conclusion One or two lines thanking them for their consideration and inviting a response. Tell them you’re available and eager to connect.

Finally, sign the letter with a professional closing.

Chances are that your first draft of your job or internship cover letter will end up longer than it needs to be. Edit for conciseness and relevancy. Make it an arrow that gets right to the heart of the company’s needs and interests. This will show you know what you’re doing and respect the hiring manager’s time.


Determining the exact answer to the question, “How long should a cover letter be?” has to take many details into consideration. Jobs and internships have different focuses. Companies may have their own preferences or submission platforms to consider. Ultimately, although ‘one single page’ is the standard rule, the real length of a cover letter depends on the concise, relevant information you need to share to make the best impression on the decision makers.



Short Cover Letter Examples

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