Cover Letter: Types, Samples, Guidelines

cover letter

The cover letter is the other half of an application package. It is a form of advertising of self to the prospective employer. It accompanies the resume. The function is to give your reader a more subjective and personal view by revealing your motives, goals, something of your personality, and your ability to express yourself.

Types of Cover Letter

The cover letter may be required to address two situations: solicited and unsolicited job offer.

Solicited Application Letter

A Solicited Application Letter is one sent in response to. an announced job openings. It is written against an advertised job.

Specimen Cover Letter (Unsolicited)
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, ZIP Code]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Phone Number]

[Date]

[Potential Hiring Manager’s Name OR ‘Human Resources Department’ if the name is unknown]
[Company’s Name]
[Company’s Address]
[City, ZIP Code]

Dear [Potential Hiring Manager’s Name OR ‘Human Resources Team’],
I am writing to express my interest in exploring potential opportunities at [Company’s Name]. While I understand that there might not be any immediate openings that match my background, I believe that my expertise in [specific area, e.g., “software development”] could be of value to your team in the future.

Currently, I am employed at [Your Current Company/Job] where I [specific achievement or responsibility that showcases your skillset – e.g., “developed a software solution that increased operational efficiency by 20%”]. With my proficiency in [specific skills or competencies – e.g., “Java, Python, and cloud computing”], I’m confident in my ability to take on challenges and contribute to projects requiring innovative solutions.

I’ve always admired [Company’s Name] for [specific reason – e.g., “its cutting-edge products and its commitment to fostering a culture of innovation”]. It’s particularly [project or product or feature of the company you admire], that has caught my attention, and I am excited about the idea of bringing my skills to support such endeavors.

Attached is my CV, which offers more detail on my professional journey. I’d appreciate the opportunity to speak with someone from your team to discuss how my background might fit potential roles at [Company’s Name], either now or in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my letter. I’m looking forward to the possibility of contributing to [Company’s Name] and hope to hear from you soon.
Warm regards,
[Your Name]

It’s important to note that since unsolicited letters are not in response to a specific job ad, they should highlight your strengths and showcase how you can be a potential asset to the company. Always try to customize the letter to fit the company’s values, projects, or products.

Unsolicited Application Letter

An Unsolicited Application Letter is one sent to an organization that has not announced a job opening. It is also known as Prospecting Letter.

Specimen Cover Letter (Solicited)
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, ZIP Code]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Phone Number]

[Date]

[Hiring Manager’s Name]
[Company’s Name]
[Company’s Address]
[City, ZIP Code]

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
Re: Application for the position of [Specific Job Title – as mentioned in the job ad]

I am writing to express my interest in the [Specific Job Title] position at [Company’s Name], as advertised on [where you found the job posting – e.g., Company’s website, Job Board, Newspaper]. With my [specific experience or qualification], I believe I am well-equipped to contribute to your team.
During my time at [Your Previous Company/Job], I [specific achievement or responsibility that aligns with the job you’re applying for – e.g., “managed a team of 10 and successfully completed projects under tight deadlines”]. I have honed my skills in [specific skill or competency relevant to the job – e.g., “project management and stakeholder communication”] and am eager to bring my expertise to [Company’s Name].

I have always admired [Company’s Name] for [specific reason – e.g., its innovative approach to software solutions, its commitment to environmental sustainability, its outstanding reputation in the industry]. I am particularly impressed by [specific project or aspect about the company], and I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to contribute to such initiatives.

Please find attached my CV for your consideration. I am keen to discuss how my background and skills align with your needs further. I am available for an interview at your earliest convenience and can be reached at [Your Phone Number] or [Your Email Address].

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the possibility of contributing to [Company’s Name] and hope to speak with you soon.

Yours sincerely,
[Your Name]

When you send a solicited letter, you usually know in advance what qualifications the organization is seeking.

You also know that there are many competitors. In some respects, therefore, an unsolicited application letter stands a better chance of being read and of receiving individual attention.

Whatever your application letter is, solicited or unsolicited, your qualifications are presented in the same manner in both the cover letters. The main difference is in the opening paragraph.

In a solicited letter, no special attention-getting effort is needed because you have been incited to apply. However, the unsolicited letter starts by capturing the reader’s attention and interest.

  1. I write to inquire about the possibility of a position in Navana Motors’ Executive Training Program this coming June.
  2. Mr. John Barker of your Product Development lab has informed me of openings in this year’s Executive Training Program at Navana Motors. May I apply?
  3. My honors degree in business administration and my year of experience in a supervisory capacity should, I feel, qualify me as a candidate for this year’s Executive Training Program at Navana Motors.
  4. A position in this year’s Executive Training Program at National Motors is my goal. May I, with this letter and resume, be considered an applicant?
  5. Will you please consider my enclosed résumé in the application for National Motors’ Executive Training Program?
  6. As a graduate of the University of Dhaka with a major in Management Information Systems, I am eager to apply for a position as a National Motors’ Executive Trainee.
  7. With the scarcity of really good openings for new college graduates, I would like to get my application in early for a spot in this summer’s Executive Training Program at National Motors.
  8. Should openings exist, I’d like very much to be considered a candidate for this year’s Executive Training Program at National Motors.
  9. Challenge and the chance for steady advancement in responsibility are what I seek as an honors graduate in industrial management. These prospects seem to me most attainable at Navana Motors. May I be considered for a position in the Executive Training Program this June.
  10. I am an engineering graduate with a record of achievement and am eager for the chance to work in an environment where achievement is a daily expectation. Hence, if I may, this application to Navana Motors.
  11. I am an experienced industrial engineer with a record of achievement and am eager for the chance (same as #14 above).
  12. Success, as I understand it, is being justly recognized for an indispensable contribution to corporate effort. I seek this brand of success and feel that, because of my background and abilities, National Motors would be the most exciting place to make that contribution. May I be considered a candidate for this summer’s Executive Training Program?
  13. With both experience and academic training in industrial management, I would like to apply for a position as a management trainee at National Motors.
  14. Though successful in my current job, I have chosen, confidentially, to seek a new position in which my special abilities and experience can be put to work more productively.
  15. I was pleased (or am excited) to learn that you are seeking third-year undergraduates in Information Systems for possible career positions at IBM. Different styles are recommended: summary, name, question, and news item openings. There are other styles too. Wells (1985) has prescribed 20 different styles of opening paragraphs that he mentions at the end of it.

Opening Styles

Summary Opening

This describes how your strongest work skills could benefit the organization. It also outlines your understanding of the job’s requirements and demonstrates how well your qualifications fit the job.

When you need a secretary in your export division who can take shorthand at 125 words a minute and transcribe notes at 70 – in English, French, and Arabic – call me.” (With work experience) “Management has always been an interest of mine. My five years of in-depth study of management in BBA and MBA programs and three months of extensive internship in a financial organization suggest a solid background. Your published job description for a management trainee aligns perfectly with the qualifications you desire.” (With no work experience)

Name Opening

This mentions the name of a person known to and highly regarded by the reader to capture their attention. The person could be your teacher, a businessman, a professional, or an employee of the reader’s organization. You simply state that they suggested you apply for a position.

Professor Muhammad Mohiuddin, my major professor of Human Resource Management at the University of Dhaka, informed me of a possible opening in your organization. Working with him over the past year as a research assistant suggests I meet some of the basic requirements for your open position.”

Question Opening

This attention-getting opening uses a question to demonstrate an understanding of the organization’s needs. You, as an applicant, wish to help.

Can your fast-growing market research division use an interviewer with 2 years of field survey experience, an MBA in Business Administration, and a genuine desire to succeed? If so, please consider me for the position.”

News Item Opening

This mentions a news item that describes the activities of an organization, like a planned expansion, a newly released product, a refinancing program, or a new account. These are possible reasons for sending a job application letter.

“Today’s issue of the “Daily Star” reports that you are expanding the capacity of your pharmaceutical plant at Gazipur with a new expansion plan, set to be completed in May 2005. My major in MBA was Management Information Systems and I acquired one year of experience in this sector in a pharmaceutical industry operating here. For these reasons and others noted in the accompanying resume, I’d like to apply for a job that utilizes my talents.”

Clarifying Reasons

The opening paragraph of your application letter also states your reasons for writing. Since you are applying for a job, the opening paragraph identifies the desired job or job area. Hence, directly mention the title or area of the job for which you are applying. You can state:

a. Use the title at the opening of your letter:

Subject: Application for Lecturer in Management.

b. Use a general description of your intention:

Please consider my application for the post of management trainee.

Body: Middle Part

The middle section of the cover letter presents your strongest points in terms of their potential benefits to the organization, thereby creating interest in you and a desire to interview you. Therefore:

  • Summarize your relevant qualifications.
  • Emphasize your accomplishments.
  • Highlight desirable personal qualifications.
  • Justify salary requirements if the organization has asked you to state them. The best strategy is to suggest a salary range or to indicate that the salary is negotiable.
  • Refer to your resume.
  • Avoid repetition of facts.
  • Lead with your strongest argument.
  • Relate your personal attitudes, interests, activities, or personal qualities to the job requirements.
  • Be precise about how previous experience prepared you for the current position.

Education

I completed a four-year undergraduate program in business administration, earning 36 A’s out of 40 courses. My 12-week internship with a motor company added practical experience to my classroom work.

Experience

One year of work with Tech-Velly Ltd in marketing taught me planning, establishing and maintaining customer relations, and ensuring sales for the company. Such work experience is a superb background for joining your marketing division.

Personal Ability to Work with People

  • Used sound judgment to work with senior individuals.
  • Led student groups of various nationalities and cultural interests.

Your Attitude Toward Employment

For a long time, I have shown enthusiasm for this field; my intent is to make it my full-time occupation.

Your Personal Qualities

My entire academic career was funded through scholarships and my own out-of-academic work.

Body: Closing Part

The final paragraph of the cover letter serves two key purposes: to prompt the reader to take a specific action and to facilitate an easy response. In most cases, the action you’re seeking is an interview. Don’t demand it; aim to sound appreciative and natural. Keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Make action words clear and direct.
  • Specify when you can be reached by phone.
  • Provide your phone number, fax, or email.
  • Indicate your willingness to visit the employer’s office.
  • If the central office is distant, ask for a local representative’s name.
  • State your date of availability.
  • Mention your most compelling qualification or selling point.
  • Alternatively, you could offer to initiate contact to arrange a potential interview, rather than waiting for a response.

Complimentary Close and Signature

Commonly used complementary closes include “Yours faithfully,” “Yours sincerely,” “Sincerely yours,” or simply “Sincerely.” If addressing a designation or using a post box number, you might opt for “Very truly yours,” “Truly yours,” or “Yours truly.”

Sign below the complimentary close. Beneath the signature, write your name, with or without brackets. If it hasn’t been mentioned at the top of the letter, provide your mailing address below your name.

Guidelines for Writing the Cover Letter

The writing of a cover letter is an art. It is both a persuasive and informative letter. The function of the cover letter accompanying the résumé is to give your reader a more subjective and personal view. Therefore, it should be written in a very articulate and tactical manner. The following are generalized guidelines for writing and making the cover letter attractive and rewarding:

  1. Introduce yourself and state the specific reason for writing.
  2. Highlight your background by mentioning your major qualifications. Then relate those to the job being sought and finally invite the reader to consider the details in the résumé.
  3. Specify the response you desire: an interview for the job.
  4. Write an individualized cover letter for each application package.
  5. Address the letter by name to the person in the organization responsible for screening applicants. Letters addressed simply to “Personnel Manager” or “Director” usually won’t receive the attention they deserve.
  6. Reflect knowledge of the organization without being ostentatious.
  7. Keep the letter fairly brief, yet complete.
  8. Reflect a warm and sensible personality, balancing self-confidence and modesty.
  9. Ensure the letter is correct in every way and extremely articulate. Mechanical errors and sloppiness must be avoided.
  10. Avoid awkward, self-centered openings. Make it direct, clear, and positive in tone.
  11. Avoid starting every sentence with the subject pronoun “I”. It places undue emphasis on you.
  12. Do not express many opinions. Opinions can be extraneous and irritating when out of place.
  13. Don’t waste space by stating things that are self-evident. For instance, saying “Because you are the largest company in the industry” sounds like blatant flattery.
  14. Do not include a self-addressed reply envelope.
  15. Avoid old-fashioned openings.
  16. Use the “you-viewpoint” wherever practical.