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.