Types of Cover Letters

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Depending on the type of job posting to which you are responding, there are generally three types of cover letters: those sent to a specified person (i.e. the hiring manager), those sent in response to a "blind" advertisement (i.e. only a P.O. Box or a job-reference number is provided), and those sent to recruiters.

Depending on the situation, there are certain things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your letter.

Cover Letters Sent to a Specific Person

Use the information you have to your best advantage.

  • When you have the hiring manager's name, use it in the salutation — without exception. This personalizes the letter and shows attention to detail on your part.
  • In the opening paragraph, be sure to state the job for which you're applying, as a hiring manager may post numerous openings in a given week.
  • In the body of your cover letter, detail all of the qualifications and skills you have that relate to this new job opening.
Cover Letters Sent in Response to a "Blind" Posting

Newspaper ads often request that you send resumes and cover letters to a P.O. Box, with no indication of the company's name or hiring manager's identity. Similarly, job reference numbers are often the only identification provided in an online posting. When this is the case, keep the following in mind:

  • Showcase your experience and qualification as they relate to the new position.
  • Rather than using "Dear Sir or Madam," or even worse, "To Whom It May Concern" — drop the salutation altogether. Instead, write: “Re: Job Reference #” or Re: “Assistant Store Manager Position.”
  • After that reference, leave a blank line, and then begin the cover letter's first paragraph.
Cover Letters Sent to Recruiters

Companies hire recruiters to find the appropriate employee for a certain position. Because of this, your cover letter must be clear about your preferred industry and position, your travel or relocation preferences, and your salary considerations (if they’re negotiable, include this information).

The remainder of your cover letter will contain the same data as a cover letter you would send to a hiring manager or a "blind" posting — that is, you should include your skills and qualifications as they relate to your preferred industry and position. In this case, though, you will be selling yourself to a recruiter, rather than to a hiring manager.