Whether you are applying for a job or requesting a meeting, knowing what the 4 types of cover letters are and when to use them is very important. Each of these four general types of cover letters has its own purpose:
1) Application letter – This is a straight forward cover letter, where you respond to a posted job advertisement by introducing yourself and the purpose of the letter. This is a very common type of cover letter and the one that many of us are used to. Many job postings require a resume and this traditional type of cover letter to be sent as part of the application.
2) Networking letter – A networking cover letter is used when you are asking for advice on job search. You send this type of letter to people who you believe can help you find a new job or know someone who can. This is not to say that you should directly ask for a job in the cover letter itself. Often times, you may ask for an informational meeting rather than an actual interview. The intent is not to come off as strong and pressure the reader in getting you a job, but rather to state your desire to learn more and what you hope to gain from an informational meeting. Letting the recipient know that you are seeking for advice might make them more willing to help you and they can eventually help you in getting a new job. Finish the cover letter stating your intent to call and make arrangements for a brief informational meeting.
3) Letter of interest/inquiry – Also known as a prospecting letter, this type of cover letter is sent to companies that may be hiring but they have not posted any specific job advisements. Unlike a traditional application cover letter that responds to a specific job posting, the purpose of this letter is to inquire about possible job openings at a company. To make it more effective, make sure you direct your inquiry letter to the right person! This letter should include why you are interested in working for the company and how your skills and experience can be an asset to the company. Sending letters of interest can be a great way to find a job if done effectively.
4) Referral cover letter – A referral letter mentions that you were referred to the job by someone, such as a colleague or a friend. It is important to mention this mutual contact and how you know him/her in the first paragraph of your cover letter. Having a mutual connection is advantageous because recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to consider applicants referred by someone they know.
Customizing the 4 Types of Cover Letters
Your cover letters should be customized based on your specific purpose. Although this can be time consuming, it is important to let the companies know that you took the time and effort to show why you are a good match for the company. Companies can tell if you just send them a generic cover letter that you send to every job that you apply for. Thus, to make sure your cover letter gets read, write an effective cover letter.
Also, regardless of the type of cover letter, mention in the last line of your cover letter how you can be contacted and if they should expect you to follow up with a call. Remember to thank them for their time!
Now that you know the 4 types of cover letters, make sure you follow the appropriate format for each cover letter and include your resume for their reference.