Cover Letter Styles

Cover letter styles are shaped by their functions. These letters relate to job and qualifications situations, and information content. They're important, because they contain extra information which is outside the frame of job applications, or other career related circumstances.

Types of cover letters

There are several basic types of cover letters in the employment market:

  • Job application cover letters
  • Cover letters for cold canvassing purposes
  • Referral cover letters
  • Career related cover letters
  • Cover letters of inquiry
  • Job application cover letters: Job application cover letters are now considered a critical part of the job application. Their extra information includes material regarding personal experience, value adding, and motivation. These letters can be the difference between getting an interview and getting passed over.
  • Cover letters for cold canvassing purposes: Cold canvassing is a primary job hunting technique. The cover letters have to be informative. Letters are used to cover the same points as in a job application, but often have to include explanatory information regarding the purpose of the cold canvassing approach.
  • Referral cover letters: Professional referrals are used to boost employment prospects, and they're often very good references. Cover letters are written to support the applicant or intended business associate.
  • Career related cover letters: It's pretty normal for people to write to employers or industry professionals seeking career guidance. It's a good way to get valuable information, and the letters have to be written to explain what the writer is trying to achieve.

There's no such thing as a One Size Fits All cover letter. All of these cover letters have quite different purposes, and they're directed to different people. The cover letter style is based as much on necessity as format.

Basic cover letter writing

There's one simple rule to remember: Cover letters are business letters.

They have to be written like business letters.

If you stick to a business format, the reader won't get lost, and you'll be able to quickly and clearly express what you need.

To write a good cover letter:

  • Write in a formal business style.
  • Express information clearly, preferably in single sentences.
  • Edit your letter to make sure you include all you need.
  • Edit your letter for typos, bad grammar, or other problems.
  • Be objective and provide useful information.

There are a few important 'Don'ts':

  • Don't waste words or space. One page is the normal size.
  • Don't include extraneous or off topic information.
  • Don't use informal language, jargon, or slang.
  • Don't use run on sentences, which can lose the reader.
  • Don't use capital letters or other non standard characters.

Any business letter has to work on basic communications principles. Keep it simple and factual. Stick to the point, and don't waste the reader's or your own time. The clearer and more reader-friendly the letter, the better.