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How Long Should a Cover Letter be in 2024?

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How Long Should a Cover Letter be in 2024?

by CVMaker

  • Cover letter
  • · April 10 2024
  • · 4 min read
Cover letter length

Table of contents

A well-crafted cover letter holds the key to making a positive first impression on potential employers and most job seekers often find themselves grappling with the ideal cover letter length. Should it be brief and concise, or is it acceptable to delve into extensive details? In this article, we explore the optimal length for a cover letter in the UK and provide practical insights to help you strike the perfect balance between brevity and substance.

While there is no hard and fast rule regarding the exact word count for a cover letter, a range of 250 to 400 words is often considered appropriate. This range allows you to convey your qualifications effectively without overwhelming the reader. Remember, quality matters more than quantity. A well-written, short cover letter that clearly communicates your suitability for the role is more likely to make an impact than a lengthy one filled with unnecessary details.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

Before delving into the cover letter length debate, let's understand the primary purpose of a cover letter. It serves as an introduction, presenting a snapshot of your qualifications, skills, and experiences relevant to the position you're applying for. A well-crafted cover letter showcases your enthusiasm, highlights your unique value proposition, and compels the reader to review your CV with keen interest. It should be tailored to each specific job application, reflecting your genuine interest in the role and the company.

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How to keep your cover letter short and precise 

In today's fast-paced world, hiring managers and recruiters often have limited time to review each application thoroughly. Hence, brevity can be an asset when it comes to cover letters. Keeping it concise enables you to make your key points effectively, capturing the reader's attention within a limited word count. By focusing on your most relevant qualifications and achievements, you demonstrate your ability to convey information efficiently.

A short cover letter also forces you to prioritise and highlight your most impactful experiences, skills, and achievements. This approach ensures that the reader can easily grasp the core reasons why you are an ideal candidate for the role. It also shows your respect for the reader's time and conveys a level of professionalism.

How to ensure a well-written cover letter

While brevity is essential, a cover letter should not be so brief that it fails to provide meaningful insights into your qualifications. A cover letter that is too short might leave the reader wanting more, and it could be perceived as lacking effort or genuine interest.

To strike the right balance, focus on crafting a cover letter that is substantial and engaging. Use it as an opportunity to elaborate on a few key experiences or accomplishments that demonstrate your unique qualifications. Share specific examples that illustrate your skills and how they align with the requirements of the position.

Additionally, a longer cover letter may be appropriate if you are applying for a senior or executive-level position or seeking a role in academia or research, where detailed explanations of your work and credentials are expected. However, even in such cases, it's crucial to remain concise and avoid excessive elaboration. Refer to our academic CV example or how to write a good CV for more information. 

Top 5 tips on how to keep your cover letter short, clear, and concise

To help you meet the ideal length standards, here are a few handy tips for writing an effective cover letter:

  1. Pay attention to your structure, refer to our article on how to structure your cover letter

  2. Begin with a captivating introduction, clearly stating the position you're applying for and briefly mentioning relevant qualifications.

  3. Highlight only the most pertinent qualifications that align with the job requirements, avoiding an exhaustive account of your work experience.

  4. Utilise bullet points to convey information efficiently, breaking down achievements into easily digestible snippets.

  5. Aim for a cover letter length of approximately 250 to 400 words, providing sufficient information while maintaining conciseness.

At the end of the day, both a cover letter and a CV are like personal marketing tools. Sometimes, a well-crafted cover letter can be the deciding factor in whether or not you secure an interview. So, it's crucial to find that perfect balance between keeping your cover letter concise and tailoring it to the specific job you're applying for. 

A concise cover letter that highlights your most relevant qualifications and experiences can captivate the reader's attention, while a longer letter can provide a more comprehensive picture of your credentials. The trick is to create a cover letter that complements your CV and shows off your best qualifications and experiences. Think of it as a dynamic duo that tells your story and convinces a potential future employer why you are the right for the job 

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Next steps?

If you're ready to kickstart your journey but unsure of where to begin, our team is here to assist you in creating a job-specific CV and cover letter through our professional CV Writing Service. For additional inspiration, we encourage you to explore our comprehensive collection of cover letter templates or refer to our detailed guide on how to write a good CV. Already got a head start on your CV and matching cover letter? Take a look at our guide on how to send your CV via email before you apply for your next job!

FAQ

How long should a covering letter be in the UK?

The ideal length for a covering letter in the UK generally falls within one page, typically ranging from 250 to 400 words. This length allows you to provide sufficient information while maintaining conciseness and ensuring the reader's attention is captured effectively. Learn more about how long a CV should be to accompany your cover letter.

Is a two-page cover letter too long?

A two-page cover letter is generally considered too long, as it may exceed the reader's attention span and could come across as excessive. It's important to prioritise the most relevant and compelling information, focusing on key qualifications and experiences that directly align with the job requirements.

How long should an academic cover letter be? 

For academic cover letters, the length may vary depending on the specific requirements outlined by the institution or position. In general, academic cover letters tend to be slightly longer than traditional cover letters, ranging from one to two pages. However, it's still essential to maintain conciseness and emphasise the most pertinent academic achievements and research experiences relevant to the role. Adhering to any specific guidelines provided by the institution or position is crucial in ensuring your cover letter is well-received.

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Updated April 10 2024

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