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16 Different Types of Cover Letters

A woman in a job application interview with the HR officers holding her cover letter.

The significance of a cover letter cannot be understated. It provides us with an opportunity to meet expectations beforehand and create a positive image of ourselves in the minds of others. As a recruiter, I can attest that setting yourself apart from the rest can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. So, what types of cover letters are there?

Cover letters can be divided into three categories: Application Letters, Prospecting Letters, and Networking Letters. Their uses include inquiries about promotions and opportunities, establishing business connections, clarifying purpose and intention, and determining future prospects.

The significance of a cover letter is not so much on having one but how you structure your words. It has a significant impact on the tone and mood of your letter, including the consensus. Let’s look at what you should include and avoid in your cover letters.

Types of Cover Letters

The cover letter for your job application should be tailored to the position you’re looking for. When writing your cover letter, one idea is to explain your talents using as many of the keywords from the job description as feasible. Sell yourself as a valuable commodity and give reasons why your experience is beneficial.

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Most big companies can receive hundreds of applications per week and don’t have the resources to dedicate to sifting through every application. It is especially effective when a company has an automated HR system configured to segregate resumes based on the terms being considered.

When asking about job opportunities at a firm where you want to work, you should utilize a prospecting cover letter. It’s termed a prospecting cover letter since it’s used to identify firms to target for career advancement. Avoid having your cover letter sound like a technical manual – ensure that it sounds conversational.

It would be best if you chose companies that match your ideals because it will be easier to relay why you’re the best candidate for the job. These cover letters seldom garner a lot of interest, so focus on grabbing attention within the first six seconds of reading. Otherwise, you may lose out quicker than you realize.

Consider who in your network could be able to help you with your job hunt; a networking cover letter is the most common way to ask for help, advice, and enquire about vacant opportunities within your network. Even if you’re a new employee, you’re likely to have individuals in your professional network who can help you.

Consider previous co-workers and bosses who would speak favorably of you, as well as college instructors who teach in sectors that you’re interested in. They are not as formal as the other letters and can be somewhat casual because you are most likely already acquainted with the recipient. 

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1. The Significance of Traditional Cover Letters

This is a close look at an HR manager reading the traditional cover letter an applicant sent.

Traditional cover letters are very much about companies seeking individuals who will fit their company’s culture and who can comfortably aspire to their vision. When writing these letters, a great place to start is the company website itself – have a look at their ideals and integrate it into your application cover letter.

Ensure that your opening sentence is powerful, then immediately jump to your qualifications so that you don’t waste a manager’s time. When considering your words, keep in mind that local, colloquial language will detract from an international letter. Add a touch of personality, humor, and warmth where applicable.   

Do not ask for a job or an interview, but rather include reasons they should consider you the right candidate for the job. Describe in the cover letter what you’re looking for, listing your strengths and qualities. If the contact is familiar, be respectful of their time, keep the letter short, and be patient if they respond immediately.

2. What is a Referral Cover Letter?

AN employee is referring a friend for a job application to the manager.

A cover letter for a referral position allows you to identify yourself while also stating who suggested you to the position. If the person who referred you is trustworthy and has a solid relationship with the firm you’re applying to, referrals may be valuable in your job hunt. A reference might offer you an advantage by catching the hiring manager’s attention. This is especially crucial if they have been acquainted.

Hiring managers and recruiters will likely look at your CV and cover letter more closely if you have someone vouching for your talents and work ethic. You will have more credibility than someone who comes in without a recommendation since you already have a respectable employee who agrees with the employer.

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 Candidates who are referred are known to feel a sense of responsibility for the firm, their reference, and their team, helping them adjust to the new culture and workplace more quickly. It is an attractive prospect to employers because it will save them time, money, and resources and improve short-term profitability.

3. Writing a Cold Contact Cover letter

A man is given the news that he is hired by the company.

These types of letters can be defined as a sales pitch. They are sent to companies that have yet to advertise any job openings. In your cover letter, ensure that you clearly express your intention and how your skillset and interests will benefit the company. You may consider mentioning how your skillset had previously been beneficial.

Many people investigate a business and decide they want to work there because of specific characteristics such as the industry, brand recognition, or corporate culture. As such, a cold contact cover letter will set you in a positive light and drastically improve your chances of being employed.

In turn, managers or supervisors may grant you priority for a new job opening, or they may even go as far as creating a new role according to your skills and abilities. If anything, you can never go wrong with showing a strong interest; it will set you up for future roles that match your specific qualities and strengths. 

4. Email Cover Letters and their Importance

This is a close look at a laptop on a desk with an email received.

Email Cover Letters may be much shorter in comparison to traditional letters, but they are still prevalent. You may find you are required by request to send a cover letter via email. Much of the clutter is removed and read much like a formal letter. Furthermore, there are a lot of white spaces to improve readability.

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The type of file you choose for your cover letter must be universally accessible; otherwise, the recipient may not even open it. Files from Adobe Reader (.pdf) Microsoft Word (.doc / .docx) are your safest alternatives. Ensure that you follow the employer’s instructions carefully on how they want it sent.

As an opening, be specific about your intention. Employers may be hiring for several positions, so manage their expectations for the information that follows. Remember to include an appropriate email signature to end your email and make it easier for the hiring manager to contact you. Without contact details, you may lose the opportunity.

5. Writing an Impact Cover Letter

Man staring at the illustration of goals achieved.

The Impact Cover Letter is best suited for highlighting your ability to deliver results and long-term goals. If you work in sales and your job requires that you reach certain quota milestones each quarter, this is the cover letter to use. Discuss how your efforts have made influenced and made the necessary impact for success.

Furthermore, an event planner would benefit from displaying how many successful events they have hosted. In essence, you want your accomplishments to do the talking. Be mindful that you do not sound arrogant when you write your letter; keep your focus on the effects of your work and not how you did it.

Hitting all the right notes will show that you are an individual driven by results, and you don’ shy away from putting in the necessary hours to get the job done correctly. Finally, try and include things that are not already in your resumé so that there can be no doubts left in the employer’s mind.

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6. Uses for a Writing Sample Cover Letter

This is a close look at someone correcting the grammar of a cover letter.

The Writing Sample Cover Letter is incredibly useful for roles consisting primarily of communication. These may include essential PR roles, Editors, and Reporting – your letter needs to showcase your writing talent and creativity. When writing, be respectful and don’t write anything that could be misconstrued as being offensive.

More importantly, do not allow any grammatical errors to slip through. It is possibly more important than the content itself. Triple-check your work if you need to, leaving no lingering doubts about your writing capabilities. Don’t forget to be passionate about your writing, highlighting your writing strengths.

Choose every word carefully, weighing up their uses and selecting the one that will have the most emotional significance. Personify your writing by giving it a personality and a voice; it’s bound to impress the reader! Put yourself in their shoes and consider what would impress them and what you could do to add to that.

7. Writing a Career Change Cover Letter

This is a street sign saying career change ahead.

These kinds of letters require more tact and subtlety than the other cover letters. Firstly, you’ll emphasize how your skillset is uniquely tailored for what is required. In addition, you need to mention past experiences and accomplishments and the experiences you will have for your new role.

Finally, you should clarify, if not stress, why you’re changing careers and what motivates you to pursue this particular sector, business, or job. If, for example, you worked in administration as part of a sales team but now you’d like to try your hand at getting involved in sales, consider this cover letter.

Express your intention for learning more and adding to that by explaining how you can do that through the experience you have already accumulated. Furthermore, include what qualities you contribute and how this is beneficial to the employer. Afterward, you may mention reasons for any resume gaps

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8. What are Cover Letters for a Part-Time Job?

A man holding a clock with a message saying Part Time.

Most people don’t consider it necessary to write a cover letter for a part-time job, but writing one will show the employer you are serious about the position. Use the format of a formal business letter, and address it to the hiring manager. Ensure that you express your interest in the job and mention it if someone referred you.

Afterward, write about how your skill set will be helpful for the job you’re applying to, providing realistic examples that pertain to the job’s description. Don’t forget to mention how you plan to stay in touch or reach you if they choose.

Keep your cover letter concise, especially with part-time jobs where applicants are in abundance. Flexibility is a great strength to list because this is often the top priority of part-time employers because they often require someone who can take the initiative and fill in where work is required.

9. Writing a Cover Letter for a Job Promotion

This is a businesswoman walking up the corporate ladder.

Being considered for an internal promotion will require you to write a promotion cover letter. Stress your interest in the newly available position and how you are the most qualified candidate for the job. Do not make a mistake and assume the hiring manager knows your work ethic because the job is internal.

It is especially true when you’re part of a large or international company. The more specific you are about working within the company and how well you understand its processes, the more favor you’ll gain and the better your chances. Mention the employer’s ideals and how you can identify with them.

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Lastly, talk about your progressive growth within the company and where you see yourself in the future. Firmly establish your intention to stay and add value to the company. Even if you have some ideas for improving the systems, you may want to mention them and explain how you would go about it.

10. Writing a Cover Letter for Multiple Job Applications

A businesswoman doing multiple roles in the office.

When you’re enthusiastic about a company, you might want to apply for many opportunities there. But how does that make an impact on future employers? When job seekers apply for numerous opportunities at the same firm, it might make them appear desperate – or, worse, unqualified – for any of them.

As such, the effectiveness of this kind of cover letter only stands if you are qualified for every position. Furthermore, a big company may not necessarily have the same recruitment officer, so there is no harm in applying for multiple positions at one time. However, it is better not to leave things up to fate and do things properly.

Since you’re expressing interest in more than one job, ensure that you give each one equal opportunity. You’ll have to use your words carefully, highlight your strengths and beneficial qualities for each role. If the jobs are vastly different, it may be wise to consider writing a cover letter for each one to explain yourself better.

11. Cover Letters that are Industry/Career-Specific

An industry or career-specific cover letter establishes a situational framework where you may highlight your experience in the business or position you’re looking for. If you’ve spent the majority of your career in one industry and want to advance in it, an industry-specific cover letter may be preferable to a traditional one. 

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It gives a clearer picture of why you’re a good fit based on your specific experience and acknowledges industry or career-related conventions. You can go into the industry-specific systems and procedures that you wouldn’t other be able to, and it would count in your favor to portray you as an individual with expertise.

12. What is a “Non-Cover Letter” Cover Letter?

The “Non-cover Letter” is meant to be short, professional, and sent over email. It is pretty casual compared to the other cover letters, yet still intends that you’re a job-seeker. It’s a good option when a cover letter is not requested for a job posting or when the employer explicitly requests a short cover letter.

There is no official structure or format, and it usually starts with a greeting, a relatively short introduction, followed by a body that explains your interest in the company. Ensure that you include any references, attachments, and documents required by the other party.

Furthermore, it is wise to add a quick, two to four-paragraph professional email to accompany it. The tone should remain light and casual, but the context should be relevant and professional. Splash a little bit of your personality to show a real person behind the email and be relatable as a professional individual.

13. What is an Entry-Level Cover Letter?

A graduate holding a cardboard sign saying Hire Me.

Applying for a position without experience can be tricky, but having a cover letter prepared beforehand already speaks volumes on your behalf. Since you may not have a lot of experience, make up for it in skills; explain how your particular skill set can be utilized to benefit the company’s specific needs or requirements.

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When employers state that “no experience is necessary,” they are stating that you do not require any formal training or education to do the job well. By demonstrating that you have more to offer than they expect, you will have gone beyond their expectations and improved your overall chances.

Furthermore, these kinds of jobs usually have “on-the-job training,” so mentioning that you understand what is required of you and you’re willing to put in the effort will count in your favor.

14. Cover Letters for Explaining Gaps in Employment

A female backpack traveler on a boat.

Most people have gaps in their resumé, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s scarce for someone to stay in a company for their entire career. Furthermore, job security is constantly fluctuating. In the event you lost your job due to layoff, do not feel ashamed about it. Mention it, and talk fondly about your previous experiences.

Whatever you do, do not badmouth your previous company, even if it was genuinely an unpleasant working environment. No matter how you try and spin it, it won’t put you in any positive light. If your resumé gap is because of traveling, focus on how traveling has enriched your personal development.

If your resumé gap is due to going back to school, explain how you wanted to expand your career options in getting your qualification. For health reasons, try not to ramble and be straightforward. You had specific health issues, so you had to take some time out. You’re glad you managed to overcome the obstacles in your way.

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15. Cover Letters for International Positions

An Arab businessman shakes the hand of the foreign applicant.

There are several chances to work abroad in the technical and engineering fields. As with any cover letter, make sure it discusses the essential abilities and experience that demonstrate you are qualified for the post. It may be imperative with certain cultures that value hard work, effort, and qualifications.

You may also be required to perform additional activities, such as translating your cover letter into a foreign language. It may at first seem tedious, but if you persevere, it will undoubtedly score you brownie points and highlight your interest and flexibility to approach other cultural differences.

16. Cover Letters for Master’s Degree

A businessman walking up the levels of educational attainment.

Knowing how to sell your master’s degree credentials will assist you in obtaining your next position. Explain how your extra education will benefit the position; for example, you might show how a master’s degree in project engineering has given you additional abilities that the firm requires for the listed position.

In your cover letter, highlight relevant talents you learned during your master’s degree, such as infrastructure design or data analysis. It’s also crucial to emphasize any job experience where you’ve used these abilities. By showing you know how to apply the knowledge you’ve accumulated, will be priceless.

Furthermore, examples of when you practically applied your experience and what you did to find a solution to a particularly vexing problem are great details to mention.

Conclusion

Choosing the correct cover letter when applying for a position is crucial to making the best impression.  Think carefully about the words you use and what kind of emotional response they will create within the reader. Furthermore, keep in mind who will be reading your cover letter so that you do not waste their time.

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I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Sources:

Indeed: Types of Cover Letters

The Balance Careers: Types of Cover Letters With Samples

The Muse: The Best Cover Letter Examples for Every Type of Job Seeker

Monster: Cover Letter Examples That Will Help Get You Hired

CHRON: Types of Job Application Letters

CV Simply: Types of Cover letters with Samples

Investopedia: Cover Letter

Indeed: How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience: Your Entry-Level Cover Letter

Indeed: How to Write a Cold Cover Letter (Template and Example Included)

The Balance Careers: How to Write a Personal Value Proposition Letter