Types of Cover Letters With Samples

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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.

Make Your Letter Specific

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.

Types of Cover Letters

  • 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. See sample cover letters 
  • 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. See sample referral cover letters.
  • Letter of Interest. A letter of interest, also known as a prospecting letter, inquires about possible job openings at a particular company. See sample letters of interest.
  • 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. See sample networking letters.
  • Value Proposition Letter. A value proposition is a brief statement explaining what makes the candidate unique. See sample value proposition letters.

    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.

    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.

    Here are examples for different situations:

      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.