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Cover Letter Formats: Choosing the Best Type of Cover Letter for Your Job Search

When choosing a cover letter format, you should consider where you are in your job search journey and how you want hiring managers to perceive you. Read on to find out which type of cover letter is right for you.

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TYPES OF COVER LETTER FORMATS

Cover letters are used for many different reasons, so the proper format for each one varies. There are three main types of cover letters: the application cover letter, the prospecting cover letter, and the networking cover letter. Short emails (we call these “non-cover letter cover letters”) are also an effective and increasingly common way to introduce your resume.

Application Cover Letter

This is the standard cover letter used alongside a resume during a job application. The application letter is geared toward a certain job, and it is tailored to the skills and specifications listed in the job posting.

The application cover letter is a tool used to sell yourself as a job candidate. It supplements your resume and expands upon relevant parts of your work history and qualifications. To get instant feedback on your application cover letter, check out Jobscan’s cover letter checker.

Prospecting Cover Letter

Like the application cover letter, the prospecting cover letter is written by a job seeker to a company of interest. However, this type of cover letter inquires about open job positions in general. It is not a response to a specific job posting.

Networking Cover Letter

The networking cover letter is the black sheep of the cover letter family. This type of cover letter is the most casual and tends to be the shortest. It still comes from the job seeker, but rather than being sent to a company, it is sent out to former colleagues, mentors, friends and other contacts. It informs the recipient of the person’s status as a job seeker and asks them for help in their job search.

The “Non-Cover Letter” Cover Letter

This is a simple cover letter, professional and short, that is sent over email. This type of simple cover letter is great to use when a formal cover letter is not requested in the job posting.

The “Non-Cover Letter” cover letter does not follow a specific format. It usually includes a greeting, simple body explaining your experience and your interest in the company and a closing with reference to any attachments such as your resume, portfolio, samples or any other requested documents.

If you are emailing your resume, it is always a good idea to write a quick, professional email to go along with it. It should be short–a couple of paragraphs is sufficient–and the tone should remain casual but professional throughout.

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HOW TO FORMAT YOUR COVER LETTER

Formatting Your Application Cover Letter

The application cover letter should be set up in the same order as a job interview. Think about the flow of conversation in a job interview and use it to format you cover letter.

Contact Info

  • Name
  • Address (or City, State with zip code)
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Greeting

  • Whenever possible, address the hiring manager by name.

Opening

  • Who are you?
  • What skills and accomplishments best describe you and are also relevant to the job position? Use the cover letter optimizer to know exactly what to include.

Body (1-2 paragraphs)

  • What do you know about the company already?
  • Why are you applying for this specific job?
  • What can you bring to the company and job position?
  • Include measurable results when possible.

Closing

  • Allow your personality to shine through.
  • Reiterate your interest.
  • Mention any attachments.
  • Use a professional sign-off like “Best” or “Sincerely” before your full name.

 

Joe Jobscan
1234 Resume Ln.
Anytown, WA 55555
(555)555-5555
jjobscan@jobscan.co

Nancy,

As a resume writer, I see it as both my passion and responsibility to help job seekers land their dream job. With more than eight years of resume writing experience, I can confidently tell you I am an expert in my field. If granted the opportunity, I would be excited to bring my skills to your resume writing company.

Known for excellent client-facing skills, I have helped job seekers navigate the resume writing process in more than 250K successful hires. Additionally, I’ve gathered more than one million scans at Jobscan for new clients. As you can see in my resume, my four years at my previous position point to a track record of hitting goals and exceeding expectations.

iHeartResumes has a reputation for quality and results. In fact, I frequent your social media and blog to keep myself updated on the industry. I would love to help you educate job seekers about applicant tracking systems and why ATS optimization should be a priority in the job search processIt is my respect and admiration for all that your company contributes to the field that makes me excited about potentially joining your team.

I’m looking forward to finding out if I’m a match for this position.

Sincerely,

Joe Jobscan

Prospecting Cover Letter

The prospecting cover letter is formatted much like the application letter. The only differences occur in the opening. The body might change slightly based on the company, but many times it will remain the same.

Contact Info

  • Name
  • Address (or City, State with zip code)
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Greeting

  • Whenever possible, address the hiring manager by name.

Opening

  • Why are you reaching out?
  • What interests you about the company?

Body (1 paragraph)

  • Who are you?
  • What skills do you have that could help the company in general?
  • What have you accomplished in your career that could be of interest to the company?

Closing

  • Allow your personality to shine through.
  • Reiterate your interest.
  • Mention any attachments.
  • Use a professional sign-off like “Best” or “Sincerely” before your full name.

Joe Jobscan
1234 Resume Ln.
Anytown, WA 55555
(555)555-5555
jjobscan@jobscan.co

Nancy,

I was hoping to learn more from you about potential employment opportunities currently open at iHeartResumes. Based on what I already know about the company, iHeartResumes’ customer service and company culture are a couple of things that interest me the most.

As a resume writing expert, I’ve worn many hats but am most passionate about my successes in various client-facing positions. I have helped more than 250,000 job seekers navigate the resume writing process and facilitated more than one million scans at Jobscan. Additionally, I have made those same job seekers three times more likely to secure an interview than those who don’t use Jobscan.

I appreciate your time and look forward to seeing if I am a good fit for a position at iHeartResumes. If you don’t have any current openings, feel free to hang on to my resume (attached) and contact me in the future.

Sincerely,

Joe Jobscan
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Networking Cover Letter

The networking cover letter, being different in purpose than the first two, keeps only the contact info and closing the same.

Contact Info

  • Name
  • Address (or City, State with zip code)
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Greeting

  • Can be more casual than the other cover letter greetings if you have a relationship with the person.

Opening

  • Why are you reaching out? Do you want referrals? Recommendations?
  • What kind of job/company interests you?

Body

  • What skills and accomplishments should they be aware of in order to help you out?
  • What do you hope to accomplish in your next position?

Closing

  • Allow your personality to shine through.
  • Reiterate your interest.
  • Mention any attachments.
  • Your sign-off can be more casual.

Joe Jobscan
1234 Resume Ln.
Anytown, WA 55555
(555)555-5555
jjobscan@jobscan.co

Hi Bill,

I hope all is well. I’m reaching out about potentially meeting to gather some insights from you as a top professional in our field.

As you know from our time working at ResumesRock, I have always enjoyed working in client-facing positions. Most recently, I have helped job seekers navigate the resume writing process, facilitating more than one million scans at Jobscan. In fact, I have made those same job seekers three times more likely to secure an interview than those who don’t use Jobscan.

I’m currently looking for a new career venture, ideally with the ability to work one-on-one with job seekers, since I enjoy the personal element of helping others.

If you have time to talk or grab a cup of coffee, that would be great. Otherwise, I’d appreciate your feedback.

Best,

Joe Jobscan

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Cover Letter Formats FAQs

Do I have to include my address on my cover letter?

It is good practice to always include your address on your cover letter. If the hiring manager likes what they read, they will easily be able to locate your information and track you down for an interview.

What if you don’t have a direct contact at the company?

You should always try to find the name of a contact at the company and direct your cover letter specifically to that person. Check the company website, LinkedIn, or even call the company’s office to find the name of the hiring manager.

Read more: To Whom it May Concern? How to Address a Cover Letter.

How do I write a cover letter without work experience?

If you don’t have work experience, you can still follow the basic cover letter format. In place of experience, expand upon relevant coursework or skills and explain how that experience makes you a good candidate for the job.

Can I include my salary requirements in my cover letter?

While salary expectations are an important conversation during the hiring process, the cover letter is not the place for it. Interviews, whether on the phone or in person, are an appropriate and expected time to discuss salary.

How do I include attachments with my cover letter?

If sending my email, any attachments should be mentioned during the closing of your cover letter. Keep in mind that .docx and PDF files work best to avoid issues.

How do I use a cover letter format?

You can use our cover letter formats (above) as a guideline for your own cover letter. Simply add your own information and experience in the order listed.

Do different jobs required different types of cover letters?

Generally, a basic cover letter format works for any job application. If a job posting requires a different type of cover letter, it should be clear in the description.

Should I always include a cover letter?

No. In fact, you should not include a cover letter unless the job posting specifies.