How Short Can A Cover Letter Be? (Career Advice)

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been asked to write a cover letter for an application or job. You may also be wondering: how short can a cover letter be? Well, the answer depends on who’s receiving it and what they’re looking for. 

But in general, it’s best to keep your letter brief. That way, hiring managers will have more time to focus on your qualifications not just whether or not you met the minimum word count requirement. To help get started with writing yours (or to make sure that yours is ready), here are some useful tips:

How Short Can A Cover Letter Be?

The short answer: a cover letter should be as long as it needs to be.

The slightly longer answer: a cover letter shouldn’t be too short, but it also shouldn’t be so long that your hiring manager loses interest before they reach the end. 

You want your cover letter to show that you’ve taken the time and care to write something unique for this job opening, but there’s no need to go overboard. The average length of an effective cover letter is two paragraphs (about 100-125 words), according to the experts at The Muse!

If you’re interested in seeing what a few different types of cover letters look like, here’s how different lengths can work for you:

Should I Address The Recipient By Name?

The short answer is “yes.” It’s always a good idea to address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager. If you don’t know who that person is, however, you can use a salutation such as “Dear hiring manager” or just “To whom it may concern.”

How Long Is Too Long?

When it comes to cover letters, there is no such thing as “too long.” Well, there is—but only if you’re writing the letter in the wrong format.

Keep in mind that a cover letter shouldn’t be longer than one page (unless your resume is extensive). If you get into trouble and need more space to explain yourself, that’s what a resume will do for you.

If you’re looking for an example of a cover letter that does its job well but still manages to be clear and concise about its purpose, look no further than this one

What If I’m Submitting My Resume Online?

If you’re submitting your resume online, the cover letter is usually uploaded as a separate document. If that’s the case, make sure you include a brief explanation of why you’re sending it in this way and also list any attachments (including any previous work samples).

If you don’t have access to a scanner or printer, consider using something like Google Docs where text can be saved as an image file or PDF file. Then, once they’ve been converted into images or PDFs, upload those files to wherever people normally submit their resumes (i.e., LinkedIn).

How Should I Format The Document?

You should professionally format your cover letter. This means it should be double-spaced, using a standard font and size (like Times New Roman), and formatted in black or blue ink. Failing to do so can make your cover letter look unprofessional and may result in the employer tossing it aside.

What’s A Good Way To Start A Cover Letter?

There are several ways to start a cover letter, but the most common is with a greeting:

  • “Dear Ms. Smith, I am writing to express my interest in becoming an intern at your company.”
  • “I would like to apply for the open position of [job title].”
  • “I am interested in working at [company name] as an administrative assistant for the summer.”

If you’re applying for a specific job title and it’s already listed in the opening sentence or two of your cover letter, then feel free to use that instead of naming yourself as someone who wants their help finding work. For example:

“I’m excited about applying for the administrative assistant position at [company name]. I hope that you’ll consider me for this role because…”

Do I Need To Include My Address On My Cover Letter?

The address should be included. Your address should be the correct one, so make sure you double-check it before sending your letter to the recruiter.

The address should be professional. Don’t use nicknames, abbreviations, or slang in your address it can make you look unprofessional and careless about details.

The address should be legible and typed not handwritten! Make sure that your cover letter is typed as well so that it will stand out from other non-typed letters in a pile of resumes on someone’s desk.

Make sure all information (name, phone number, and email) is visible on both sides of the page when sending your resume via email!

What Else Should I Not Include In A Cover Letter?

Don’t include a résumé. While your cover letter is similar to a résumé in that it provides details about your work experience, length and organization are key differences. A cover letter isn’t the place for lengthier descriptions of skills or accomplishments; instead, focuses on addressing relevant information regarding the job at hand.

Don’t include a photo. This may seem like an odd suggestion given that applicants often submit letters of recommendation with photos attached and people do send selfies with job applications (I once received an unsolicited selfie from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company!). 

But when it comes to cover letters, I advise against attaching photos for two reasons: firstly, there are privacy concerns; secondly, it can feel too personal for such an impersonal document as a cover letter unless its purpose is clear from the context (e.g., if you’re applying for modeling jobs).

Don’t include references (unless asked). You don’t need to provide names or contact information here because recruiters will contact their references during the interview process anyway!

Should I Include References In My Cover Letter?

No, you should not include references in your cover letter. References should be included on the resume when specifically asked to provide them. 

If they are relevant to the job, then it’s okay to include a few lines at the end of your cover letter that say something like: “I have listed some references below.” However, if you’re going to do that, make sure that these references are people who will say good things about you!


We hope this article has helped you understand the basics of how to write your cover letter. Remember, it should be short and direct but also personal. Make sure to use a friendly tone and avoid any kind of formal language that might come off as stiff or boring.