Creating a Professional Cover Letter

A cover letter should accompany your resume every time you apply for a position. A cover letter is your first and best chance to make a good impression. It should be specific to the position for which you are applying, relating your skills and experience to those noted in the job posting. Your cover letter should be more personable than a resume and should reflect your experience and the abilities that make you uniquely qualified for the job. The following information and format is essential to a good cover letter.

Stationery: Print your cover letter and resume in black ink on neutral colored bond paper.

Spacing: Use single space within paragraphs and double space between paragraphs. Text is not to exceed three paragraphs.

Applicant Present Address: Follow professional business protocol for address on the left margin. (See sample below.)

Date: Use the date you are writing the letter.

Employer Contact Information: Follow professional business protocol for address on left margin just above the salutation. (See sample below.)

The Salutation: For LSU, it is recommended the cover letter be addressed to "Search Committee," the persons most likely to conduct the interview for the job. Avoid using "Dear Sir/Ma'am" or "Dear Gentleman." The salutation is typed two spaces below the last line of the inside address. Leave two spaces between the salutation and the first line of the first paragraph.

The 1st Section: The first paragraph of your letter should entice your reader to read further. Because employers will make quick judgments, a good opening line is essential. Mention the position you are applying for and where you found the job posting. Also, include the name of a person you know affiliated with the company who recommended that you apply, a mutual contact.  

The 2nd Section: This section may be devoted to telling the prospective employer why you are interested in the position. Explain briefly what contributions you can make and what qualifications, experiences, or personal qualities you possess that you can offer the employer. Be sure not to repeat your resume, interpret instead.

The 3rd Section: Conclude the letter by thanking them for considering you for the position. You should encourage the employer to read on noting that you are enclosing a resume and express your desire to meet in the near future to discuss your qualifications. After the closing line, skip two lines, and include a closing remark such as "Sincerely" or “Respectfully yours.” 

Skip four more lines, type your name, and then use a handwritten signature to sign the letter.

 

Resources

LSU Career Services offers resources than can help you in the process.

Cover Letter Outline

Sample Cover Letter