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Create a Professional Cover Letter

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter serves as a tool for you to present yourself to an interviewer and make a favorable impression about your skills and personality outside of your resume. A cover letter is more personable than a resume and may serve to present your personality better than a resume. Often, an impressive cover letter will increase a potential employer's desire to more seriously read your resume. Conversely, a poorly written cover letter can discourage an employer from taking your resume seriously. 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

Single space within paragraphs, and double space between paragraphs. Text is not to exceed four inches and three paragraphs.

The Inside Address

Follow professional business protocol for address on left margin just above the salutation.

The Salutation

For BYU, it is recommended the cover letter be addressed to "Selection 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 Opening Paragraph

The goal of the first paragraph is to entice your reader to read further. Because employers will make quick judgments, a good opening line is essential. Try providing the name of a person you know affiliated with the company who recommended that you apply, or write something interesting about the company which you obtained from an article, the news, etc. Showing interest in the employer instead of yourself is a good approach to take. Your opening paragraph may also state your objective regarding the position you seek.

The Body Paragraph

This section may be devoted to telling the prospective employer why you are interested in a position with their firm. Explain briefly what contributions you can make and what qualifications, experiences, or personal qualities you possess that would make you a valuable employee. List your qualifications by using specific examples of your achievements to avoid vague generalities about your experiences or qualifications.

The Closing Paragraph

Just as the opening paragraph is important with respect to encouraging the employer to read on, the closing paragraph must propel the potential employer to take action with respect to your application. In this paragraph, note that you are enclosing a resume and express your desire to meet in the near future the person to whom you are writing. Close the letter by thanking them for their consideration to express gratitude to the employer for taking time to read your letter. After the closing line, skip two lines, and include a closing remark such as "Sincerely." Skip four more lines, type your name, and then sign the letter! Remember to list your address below your name, if it is not located elsewhere on your stationery.

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Updated by the HRS Web Team, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602 - Copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved.