3 Types of Cover Letters & When to Use Each


You’ve probably heard that a cover letter should be creative, reveal a bit of your personality and be concise so as not to bore a busy recipient. But did you know that there’s more than one type of cover letter? And, depending on the purpose of the letter, the content, the writing style and the facts you’ll decide to include will be different.

Types of Cover Letters

Today, our best resume writers will present the three most commonly used types of cover letters for you. We will explain the peculiarities of writing each type so that you could compose a letter that grabs the reader’s attention and serves your job-hunting goals. Our writers will also point out when and how to use all 3 types of application letter.

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What are the different types of cover letters?

➤ Application letter – in most cases, when people say ‘cover letter’, they mean this type of letter. An application letter is what you send in response to a job posting along with a resume. It provides additional details for your resume and convinces the hiring person to call you for an interview.

➤ Prospecting letter – this type of letter is sent to the company of interest. However, this cover letter seeking employment does not address a specific job opening. Instead, in this letter you inquire about the existing openings and outline what you could possibly bring to the table if hired.

➤ Networking letter – the least formal of all cover letter types, this letter is written not to the company of interest. Networking letter is what you can write to alumni, former colleague or boss to wonder if the person could assist with your job search or recommend you for a position.

Now that you are aware of different kinds of application letters, the qualified writers from resume sites will guide you through the process of writing each one. 

Writing an application cover letter

When to use: As mentioned above, this type of letter is written with an intent to market yourself as an ideal candidate for a particular job. It is attached with a resume and expands on the facts of your career bio that don’t belong to a resume (for instance, you can explain the employment gap here).

Writing tips & tricks:

✓ Make it original. The internet abounds in job seeking cover letter templates. Yet, if you truly want to catch the attention of a busy hiring manager, take your time to make it unique and personal. The recruiters have an eye for cookie-cutter letters and the one you’ve copied from the internet won’t help you land an interview.

✓ Use the traditional structure. Start with an introduction that briefly outlines who you are and the purpose of the letter. Then, write a 1-2 paragraph body and a polite closing. Don’t write an overly long and detailed letter. For most positions, 250-350 words are sufficient to explain your potential value for the company.

✓ Tailor it for a job posting. A cover letter, just like your resume, should contain the keywords from the job listing. It will help your application to pass an electronic selection and boost the interview chances. For that, mention the required qualifications and skills from the job posting in your letter.

✓ Tell a story. A surefire way to stand out with your cover letter asking for job opportunity is to show your personal connection with the company or industry. For instance, you can show the connection to the company’s mission or tell why you want to move up the career ladder with them.

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Writing a prospecting letter

When to use: Like many professionals, you probably have a few companies in mind that you’d like to work for. In this case, you can write a prospecting letter to show your interest in the company and wonder if there are any opportunities that you’re qualified to fill.

Writing tips & tricks:

✓ Show what attracts you about the company. Since this is not a traditional seeking for a job cover letter, tell how you learned about the company or what inspires you to work for them. It might be a corporate culture, exciting projects, or even their green initiatives.

✓ Make it brief. You don’t know for sure if there are suitable openings for you, so no need to tell your professional bio in detail. Just mention your areas of specialization and top accomplishments which are relevant to what the company does. You might also want to attach a resume for further use and ask them to inform you about the future opportunities.

✓ Address it to the right person. Don’t just send your letter to whatever general contact email address. Send it to the hiring manager directly or to the manager of the department you’d like to work in. If you have a connection in the company, it’s a good idea to send it to them as well.

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Writing a networking cover letter

When to use: Networking is the most effective way of looking for an employment. By sending out the networking letters to people you’ve met at work, trainings or professional events, you let them know that you’re job-hunting and ask for assistance or advice.

Writing tips & tricks:

✓ Keep it professional, but not too formal. From all different kinds of cover letters, this one is the most casual. Since you are writing to someone you know in person, keep the tone friendlier, language more conversational, and sentences shorter. Use a more casual greeting as if you were writing a personal email.

✓ Outline what kind of help you expect. Simply pointing out that you want a new job will not suffice. Do you want to meet in person to ask for the industry insights, get referred to the company they work for, or you want a recommendation for a different employer? Be specific. Also, tell what kind of job do you have in mind to get more specific advice and help.

✓ Share your key accomplishments and skills. If you haven’t met with the person for years, they might not be aware of your current accomplishments and professional strengths. Outline them in a few sentences so that a person could give you an in-depth advice or recommend you for the position you qualify for.

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Do you always have to include a cover letter?

Unless the company asks you not to use a cover letter, it’s a good idea to always attach it. Cover letter is a chance to expand on your qualifications and establish a personal connection. Moreover, they are considered a good business etiquette. And the two latter types of application writing expand the number of opportunities for you as you reach out to many people and organizations. 

Need a professional cover letter?

Now that you are aware of different types of cover letters for jobs, it’s time to start writing. If you are too busy to compose multiple letters on your own or simply want the letter to be flawless, consider seeking professional help. Our experienced resume creators will compose a custom cover letter based on your instructions and in line with your career goals.

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