Hundreds of people have contacted me and said “I need a resume and a cover letter”. The two just seem to naturally go together. But a “cover letter” is really just a general term, and there are several categories. Think about how you can get someone’s attention. Remember, people hire people, they don’t hire resumes.

You should have your contact information on the top of the first page of your resume. Consider this to be your “letterhead” that you can also use at the top of the page for your cover letter. Then the two documents will look like they go together.

TRANSMITTAL EMAILS: This is a very basic correspondence. It states who you are, why you are writing, and what document is attached. This works for Craigslist. Also sometimes a company provides a direct email for the person you should contact. Either way, the advantage is that the recipient is a live human being.

Please see attached resume for your job posting #12345 for a Senior Accountant. My colleague, John Jones, suggested that I contact you. I am very interested in this position, so please let me know the next steps I can take to be considered. Thank you. Irene Marshall, MBA, phone, email.”  Short, sweet and to the point.

Referral Cover Letters

SOLICITED COVER LETTER:You might have lunch with someone or meet them at an event who unexpectedly says “We expect to have a job become open next quarter. I would like for you to be considered. Please send me your resume and cover letter so I can get it to the right person.” Take them up on their offer and do it right away! “It was great having lunch yesterday. Here is my resume that you requested. Please let me know who I should contact to be considered for the xxxx job you mentioned.”  Be sure to start the cover letter with a reminder to the person about your conversation.

REFERRAL COVER LETTER: A referral cover letter mentions the name of a person who has referred you to a job because they think you are well qualified. Many companies have employee referral programs, so this will document the employee’s connection to you to qualify for the bonus. One time I helped an employee get a $1,000 bonus!  “John Jones suggested that I contact you about my interest in your open job for a Senior Accountant.”  Be sure to mention the person’s name at the beginning of the letter.

Approach Letters and Letters of Interest

An approach letter is different from a cover letter because it says that you are interested in the company as a whole, not just a specific open job opportunity. Why are you interested in the organization?  What do you have to offer? It needs to be addressed to a specific person, and include your contact information.

COVER LETTERS FOR INTERNAL PROMOTIONS:  Most companies encourage people to apply for jobs within the company as a way to retain good employees. You can write directly to the person involved the hiring process for a specific posted or unposted job. You already have an advantage because you work at the company.

JOB APPLICATIONS: An online application might include a request for a cover letter as a separate document. Or it might provide a field where you can insert your cover letter in 500 or 1,000 characters. Follow the directions given to complete the online application.

LinkedIn INTRODUCTIONS: LinkedIn has a message known as “InMail” as a way for people to contact each other directly. The same principles apply. Be brief and direct about why you are contacting the person.

NEED HELP?:  Cover Letters & More