Types of Cover Letters

In the course of your job search, you will write two basic types of letters to seek out employment opportunities: letters of application and letters of inquiry.

Letters of Application:

This type of letter is written in response to a specific, advertised job opening. Your purpose is to spur employers to read your resume and set up a job interview. In order to be successful, you must demonstrate that your qualifications match the requirements of the position. If possible, get a copy of the position description and study it carefully. Your letter should be organized as follows:

  • Identify the position for which you are applying and state how you learned about it.
  • Describe your qualifications as they relate to the position requirements, providing evidence of your related experiences and accomplishments.
  • Convince the employer that you have the personal qualifications and motivation to perform well in the position.
  • Indicate your availability for an interview.

Letters of Inquiry:

This letter is written to seek out possible openings and generate, if not a job interview, at least an initial informal interview. Since many positions are not widely advertised, a letter of inquiry is used to familiarize the employer with your qualifications so they will remember you when a position opens. Its structure is similar to the letter of application; but instead of addressing specific position requirements, it focuses on your qualifications and interests in broader, more general terms. Like the letter of application, it will be most effective if it reflects a knowledge of the organization and communicates what you can do to contribute to organizational needs and goals. This type of letter should be organized as follows:

  • Ask for consideration for any existing or anticipated openings suited to your qualifications.
  • State why you are attracted to the organization and indicate the area of the organization that interests you or the type of position you are seeking.
  • Highlight your qualifications as they relate to your stated interest.

Ask for the opportunity to meet with someone to further discuss your interests and qualifications.