Types of Cover Letters With Samples
When you are job hunting, it's important to choose the appropriate cover letter for the letter's goal. There are different types of cover letters, including the five most common types: application 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 or simply seeking job search help from individuals in your professional network.
Select the Right Type of Cover Letter
Be sure to choose a type of cover letter that reflects how you are applying for the job or the type of job search assistance you are requesting.
Your cover letter should be designed specifically for that particular purpose. If it is a cover letter attached to a resume in a job application, it should be customized for each position you seek. Hiring managers can recognize when an applicant’s cover letter is a generic one that he or she has used to apply for multiple positions. Such cover letters, which show a lack of care or of deep interest in a company, may result in your resume being passed by without a glance.
General Types of Cover Letters
- Application Letter. An application letter is written to apply for a specific job opening (sample cover letters). 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 (sample referral cover letters). 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.
- Letter of Interest. A letter of interest, also known as a prospecting letter, inquires about possible job openings at a particular company (sample letters of interest).
- Networking Letter. Networking letters request job search advice and assistance (sample networking letters). 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.
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. Armed with this knowledge, you can then demonstrate in your letter how your skillset and work experience would strongly contribute to the organization should they hire you.
Cover Letter 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. 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, in both 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.
Example Letters to Inquire 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.
More About Cover Letters: How to Write a Successful Cover Letter | Cover Letter Examples
Cover letter mistakes you should avoid
Nix these things and make sure your first impression isn't the equivalent of a limp handshake.
Avoid these common mistakes when writing your cover letter.
Your cover letter is like a handshake—it’s how you introduce yourself to employers when you apply for a job. Like a good handshake, you want your cover letter to be strong, succinct, and make a great first impression.
This isn’t a part of the job application process you want to skimp on, either. A cover letter allows you to go into more detail than your resume allows, explain gaps in your employment history or your need for a career change, and make a case as to why you would be a great fit for the position. And a great cover letter can open the door to scoring an interview and, ultimately, landing a job.
Make sure your first impression is a good and lasting one by avoiding these common mistakes below when writing your cover letter.
1. Overusing “I”
Your cover letter is not your autobiography. The focus should be on how you meet an employer's needs, not on your life story. Avoid the perception of being self-centered by minimizing your use of the word "I," especially at the beginning of your sentences.
2. Using a weak opening
When writing a cover letter, job seekers frequently struggle with the cover letter's opening. This difficulty often results in a feeble introduction lacking punch and failing to grab the reader's interest. Consider this example:
- Weak: Please consider me for your sales representative opening.
- Better: Your need for a top-performing sales representative is an excellent match to my three-year history as a top-ranked, multimillion-dollar producer.
3. Omitting your top selling points
A cover letter is a sales letter that sells you as a candidate. Just like your resume, it should be compelling and give the main reasons you should be called for an interview. Winning cover letter tips include emphasizing your top accomplishments or creating subheadings culled from the job posting. For example:
- Your ad specifies: Communication skills
I offer: Five years of public speaking experience and an extensive background in executive-level report.
- Your ad specifies: The need for a strong computer background
I offer: Proficiency in all MS Office applications with additional expertise in website development and design.
4. Making it too long
If your cover letter exceeds one page, you may be putting readers to sleep. A great cover letter is concise but compelling, and respects the reader's time.
5. Repeating your resume word for word
Your cover letter shouldn't regurgitate what's on your resume. Reword your cover letter statements to avoid dulling your resume's impact. Consider using the letter to tell a brief story, such as "my toughest sale" or "my biggest technical challenge."
6. Being vague
If you're replying to an advertised opening—as opposed to writing a cold cover letter—reference the specific job title in your cover letter. The person reading your letter may be reviewing hundreds of letters for dozens of different jobs. Make sure all of the content in your letter supports how you will meet the employer's specific needs.
7. Forgetting to customize
If you're applying to a number of similar positions, chances are you're tweaking one letter and using it for multiple openings. That's fine, as long as you customize each letter. Don't forget to update the company, job and contact information—if Mr. Jones is addressed as Ms. Smith, he won't be impressed.
8. Ending on a passive note
When possible, put your future in your own hands with a promise to follow up. Instead of asking readers to call you, try a statement like this: I will follow up with you in a few days to answer any preliminary questions you may have. In the meantime, you may reach me at (555) 555-5555.
9. Being rude
Your cover letter should thank the reader for his or her time and consideration.
10. Forgetting to sign the letter
It is proper business etiquette (and shows attention to detail) to sign your letter. Err on the side of formality, and if you need any help figuring out how to close your cover letter, consider these possible sign-offs.
However, if you are sending an email cover letter and resume, a signature isn't necessary.
If you need additional writing tips, join Monster today, so the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter.