Cover Letter Format for Jobs

What is cover letter for resume?

Cover letters are one page documents that you send with your resume when applying for a job. It is meant to: Introduce yourself to the hiring manager. Argue why you’d be a good fit for the job.

The purpose of a cover letter

You might be applying for a specific, advertised job, or you might be contacting a potential employer to see if they have any vacancies. Either way, your cover letter needs to:

  • Introduce you
  • Mention the job (or kind of job) you’re applying for (or looking for)
  • Match your skills and experiences with the skills and experiences required by the job
  • Encourage the reader to read your resume
  • Finish with a call to action (e.g., requesting an interview or asking to meet)

Cover Letter structure and format

Cover letters should be no longer than one page with a font size between 10-12 points. Be sure to include your contact information and address it directly to a named individual whenever possible. If you aren’t sure who to address it to, you can address as “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Cover letters typically take the following structure:

Introduction: 1st paragraph

  • Say who you are and what position you are applying for (“I am an MIT Chemistry major graduating in June. I am writing to express my interest in the Chemist position with [Company Name].”)
  • Specify why you are interested in that specific position and organization

Body: 2-3 paragraphs

  • Cite a couple of examples from your experience that support your ability to be successful in the position or organization

Closing: Last paragraph

  • Thank the reader for their time.
  • Consider restating succinctly why you are a good candidate
  • State your desire for an interview and include your contact information (phone/email)

Formatting Concerns

  • Be sure you use standard, acceptable margins for page layout (MS Word default)
  • Use business letter style (first sentences are not indented)
  • Block style is acceptable, with text flush with left margin
  • Consult numerous sample cover letters in Virginia Tech’s Career Planning Guide

Do’s & Don’ts of Cover Letters

  • Don’t repeat information found in resume, instead…
  • Do Sum-up important qualities, areas of expertise, and motivation about field or position of interest
  • Do include information about availability
  • Do explain shortcomings or gaps in work experience in history
  • Do try to keep the cover letter to one page; however, two pages are acceptable, especially when reflective of extensive work experience

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