Virginia Tech® home

Writing a Cover Letter

A cover letter is an accompanying document to your resume and should serve as an introduction to you and your experience. A cover letter is sent before the first interview, and should motivate the reader to invite you to an interview or phone screening.

Creating/Formatting Your Cover Letter

Download our cover letter sample here

Watch our Cover Letter Tutorial

  • Your cover letter should be written in letter format. Include your name and contact information
  • Include a professional greeting and the name of the hiring manager. Example “Dear Mr. Smith”
    • If you do not know the specific name of the rep, you could list: “Dear Hiring Manager” 
  • 1-3 paragraphs
  • Identify the position for which you are applying, and indicate how you heard about the job.
  • Share a brief introduction to yourself, your educational background and briefly describe why you are interested in the role. 
  • 1-3 paragraphs
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the position by explaining how you would be a good fit for the role.
  • Include examples of your past experiences, skills, and/or qualifications from your resume that align with the job description and preferred qualifications for the role.
  • Use previous letters of recommendation or your current job description for help with describing your experience. 
  • 1 paragraph
  • Establish invitation for next steps and indicate that you would welcome the opportunity to discuss the position further.
  • End with a professional signature. Examples include: “Respectfully”, “Sincerely”, “Regards”, etc. 

FAQ’s: (Don’t see your question here? E-mail us at!

  • Your cover letter will introduce you to the recruiter, and demonstrate your interest in the position. It should also demonstrate your relevant skills and experiences, as well as your knowledge of the company and position.
  • Your cover letter should motivate the reader to invite you to an interview.
  • You may want to use a cover letter to explain any holes in your resume, such as a switch in area of study or significant time off. You can write about how you overcame challenges as an additional skill.
  • When a recruiter/application requests it
  • When you are submitting your resume via e-mail, you should use the body of the e-mail as a brief cover letter
  • When you will not have a chance to speak with the recruiter before they make a decision
  • Do NOT worry about bringing cover letters to a career fair – the recruiters will not have time to read them, and you can use your elevator pitch to share the same information.
  • If you choose to submit, take your time and write a quality letter. This will be your first impression to your potential employer. 
  • Yes, we recommend having a tailored cover letter for each company. This will mean changing the company name, position title, and tailoring your skills/experiences to the position description. 
  • Avoid overusing the word “I”
  • Vary your sentence structure and length
  • Use attention-getting action verbs and adjectives
  • Use the language from the job description to describe your experiences
  • Proofread, proofread, PROOFREAD!
  • Have multiple sets of eyes review your draft. E-mail your document to with the subject line “Cover Letter Review” to have Pamplin Career Services provide feedback. 

Stay Connected with Pamplin Career Services



Pamplin Hall
880 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6602

Office Hours

8:00-5:00pm EST
Monday – Friday