Can Cover Letters Be Too Long?

Create a concise, attention-grabbing cover letter.
Create a concise, attention-grabbing cover letter. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Chances are that if you think that your cover letter is too long, it probably is. A cover letter should be brief, highlighting only the prominent points that correspond to the job posting requirements. A well-written and concise cover letter grabs the attention of the recipient in a few seconds and stands out from the rest.

Ideal Length

A cover letter should be no longer than a single page. The recruitment office receives several applications, and the staff does not have the time or resources to read long letters outlining every single career achievement. Four paragraphs will suffice; detail the purpose of the letter, your work experience, relevant skills and qualifications, the reasons why you applied for the job and why you are a potential candidate. Conclude the letter by expressing your willingness to attend an interview.

Use Lists

Summarize your accomplishments and work experience by creating a list. A list assists you in omitting unnecessary words and draws attention to your achievements. It will also facilitate ease of reading while highlighting your suitability for the job. Avoid a long list. Instead limit yourself to four or five accomplishments that are most relevant. Don't repeat in a cover letter what is listed in your resume; the letter should only highlight those achievements or skills that make you a potential candidate beyond your resume information.

Edit and Re-Edit

Write concisely in your cover letter and in a clear and logical manner. Do not panic if your letter turns out to be too long. Take a break, then go back to edit your letter. Omit unnecessary information that can be communicated better during an interview, delete unnecessary adjectives and fluff.

Less is More advises that long cover letters do more harm than good: "Less is more when it comes to cover letters; keep it simple and to the point." PhD adds that the second page of a resume cover letter is rarely read and that you have merely 10 to 20 seconds to grab the attention of the recipient.

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