When you are job hunting, it's important to choose an appropriate cover letter so you can make the best impression. There are different types of cover letters you can use depending on the circumstances. These are the most common types: job application letters, cold contact cover letters, email cover letters, referral cover letters, letters of interest, networking, and value proposition letters.
The cover letter you use will be determined by whether you are applying directly for a job, mentioning a referral, inquiring about unadvertised openings, or simply seeking job search assistance from individuals in your professional network.
Which Type of Cover Letter to Use
Your cover letter should be designed specifically for the reason you're writing. If it is a cover letter attached to a resume in a job application, it should be customized for each position you seek.
Be sure to choose a type of cover letter that reflects how you are applying for the job or the type of job search help you are requesting.
Hiring managers can recognize when an applicant’s cover letter is a generic one that they have used to apply for multiple positions. Such cover letters, which show a lack of care or interest in a company, could result in your resume being passed by without a glance.
Types of Cover Letters
Here are some of the different types of cover letters job seekers use to apply for employment:
- Job Application Letter: An application letter is written to apply for a specific job opening. This is a traditional cover letter that is sent with a resume to apply for a job.
- Referral Cover Letter: A referral cover letter mentions the name of a person who has referred you to a job. This can be a great way to gain an employer’s interest, particularly if the individual providing the referral is known to the company you are interested in working for.
- Cold Contact Cover Letter: A cold contact cover letter is sent to a company that hasn't advertised openings. It's basically a sales pitch for what you have to offer a company.
- Email Cover Letter: An email cover letter is written to accompany a resume that's emailed to apply for a job.
- Letter of Interest: A letter of interest, also known as a prospecting letter, inquires about possible job openings at a particular company.
- Networking Letter: Networking letters request job search advice and assistance. These can be addressed to colleagues, to individuals you have met at professional conferences or other industry events, or to people to whom you connected through professional social networking sites like LinkedIn.
- Value Proposition Letter: A value proposition is a brief statement explaining what makes the candidate unique.
As mentioned above, your cover letters should be targeted to the potential jobs you are interested in. This means that, before writing an application letter, a referral cover letter, a letter of interest, or a value proposition letter, you need to do your homework and research the company you are sending your letter to.
You can then demonstrate in your letter how your skillset and work experience would strongly contribute to the organization should they hire you.
Examples for Job Applications
When creating a letter of application for a job, be sure to include details about how your professional experience relates to the qualifications and requirements listed in the job posting.
Taking the time to match your cover letter to the job posting can help you get selected for an interview.
This makes it easy for the hiring manager to determine that you're a good candidate. You should also try to echo as many of the keywords listed in the job description as possible, both in your cover letter and your resume.
Some employers use automated parsing systems programmed with these keywords to glean through a wave of job applications; cover letters and resumes that incorporate these keywords are more likely to “make the cut” and earn review by a human eye than those that do not.
Here are examples for different situations:
- Cover Letter: Use this example and template as a starting point for your own cover letter.
- Job Application Letter: Includes sample for a paper application (or email attachment) and a cover letter that is sent as the body of an email.
- Cover Letter for a Career Change: Learn how to highlight skills from your previous career that will transfer to your new one.
- Applying for More Than One Job: Includes tips and a sample letter for when you're applying for multiple positions at the same company.
- Cover Letter for a Job Promotion: Use this to help you apply for an internal position with your current employer.
- Cover Letter for a Part-Time Job: Tips on how to write a cover letter for a part-time job even if one is not required.
Inquiring About Openings
Your dream company may not advertise a job opening, and there is a chance that they're always seeking talented individuals. Take the initiative and send a letter with your resume to let them know that you're available and interested in working for them.
- Prospecting Letter: Get noticed with these tips and sample letter.
- Value Proposition Cover Letter: Learn how to add a value proposition statement to your cover letter—a statement that shows your specific value to the company and why you should be hired.
- Cold Contact Cover Letter: Includes tips and a sample for writing about unadvertised jobs.
- Sell Your Skills and Experience: These tips and sample will help when you know there is a job opening that isn't advertised or if you don't know if the company is hiring but are interested in working for them.