What are the different types of cover letters?
There are four types of cover letters.
- Application cover letter
An application cover letter is what you send to the recruiter or hiring manager along with your resume.
- Prospecting cover letter
You send this when you want to inquire prospective employers about open positions in their company or put yourself top-of-mind when they do decide to hire.
- Networking cover letter
You will send this to professionals in your network in hopes of getting referrals, introductions, job search advice, and job opportunities.
- Career change cover letter
This is what you send when you are switching careers or industries.
What tense should I use when writing a cover letter?
It can be appropriate to change tenses throughout your cover letter.
For example, you can explain who you are in the present tense and explain important aspects of your work history in the past tense. You can switch to future perfect tense when discussing the ways you would perform if given the position.
Think of it like this, “I am ABC, I did XYZ previously, and I look forward to doing EFG in this position.”
What to include in a cover letter
Our cover letter guidelines above explain how to write a cover letter more deeply, but in summary, you should always include your name, relevant work experience, and reasons why you are right for the job in your cover letter.
When not to include a cover letter
- When the job posting clearly states not to include a cover letter
- When you don’t have the time and energy to customize your cover letter. It’s better not to send a cover letter than to send a half-baked and mediocre one.
- When you are applying online and there is no field to upload your cover letter.
- When your cover letter has a lot of typos and errors.
What should you send first: a cover letter or a resume?
Typically, your cover letter and resume will be sent as a pair, but your cover letter is meant to be an introduction to your resume. If it is an email, use the cover letter in the body and attach your resume, otherwise, attach both.
Pro Tip: Be sure to review all instructions in the job description to follow the hiring manager’s requests.
How long should a cover letter be?
According to 70% of recruiters, a cover letter should not exceed 250 to 300 words.
Although there is no hard and fast rule about this, the ideal cover letter length should be around half a page to one full page in length to keep your message concise, clear, and easy to digest.
Should a cover letter be sent as a file attachment?
If it is not specified in the job posting, a cover letter can be sent either as an attachment (PDF is best) or in the body of an application email with your resume attached.
How to share a cover letter with a potential employer
There are several methods of sharing a cover letter with potential employers, depending on their application process.
Cover letters can be written on a document and turned into a PDF to be uploaded to a job application website or attached to an email along with your resume.
In other cases, your cover letter can simply be written in the email message to a hiring manager, with your resume attached.
How to title and save your cover letter
The key in every aspect of job applications is to make yourself an easy “yes” for your potential employer. That means making it easy for the hiring manager to keep track of your application materials for later review.
With this in mind, make sure your full name and the phrase “cover letter” are included in the file label. Other helpful details might include the job title you’re applying for or the year of your application.
Here are a few examples:
- Your Name_Cover Letter_Job Title.pdf
- Cover Letter_Your Name_Job Title.pdf
- Job Title_Your Name_Cover Letter.pdf
- Your Name_Cover Letter_2023.pdf
- Cover Letter_Your Name_2023.pdf