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.

Date and Contact Information: You should start the letter with a few pieces of information at the top of your cover letter including the date you are writing the letter, and your name, address, mailing address, phone number and email address. Please refer to our Cover Letter Outline to follow our suggested formatting. 

The Salutation: If you do not know who the hiring manager is for the position, it is recommended that 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. Make sure to grab the hiring manager’s attention and explain why you want the job.  Mention the position you are applying for and where you found the job posting. Also, include the name of any person you know affiliated with the company who recommended that you apply, a mutual contact. 

The 2nd Section: This section of your cover letter should respond directly to the job description written by the hiring manager. Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will help you meet the company’s needs. Highlight one or two of your strongest qualifications and explain how they relate to the needs of the employer. Do not simply restate the facts that are on your resume.

The 3rd Section: Your cover letter closing is the call-to-action portion of your cover letter. Inform the hiring manager that you’d love to go in for an interview. Thank them for reading your cover letter and for considering you for the position. You should encourage the employer to read on noting that you have included a resume and/or other required documents in your application. After the closing line, include a closing remark such as "Sincerely" or “Respectfully yours,” and sign your name at the bottom of the page.

Resources

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

Cover Letter Outline

Sample Cover Letter