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Cover letters and cover sheets are both ways to introduce yourself, your organization or your business to others. Both cover letters and cover sheets can accompany many types of correspondence. Cover letters are particularly important when submitting your resume for employment. A cover sheet is a less formal version of cover letter, containing only the essential information required to make an introduction.
Cover letters are sent with resumes as an introductory letter. A cover letter allows you to personalize what might otherwise be impersonal material. Cover letters are typically two to three paragraphs long. They should include a salutation, your letter's purpose and a summary of your qualifications or experience. The purpose statement of your letter should include where you found the job announcement, the specific position to which you are applying and a few remarks on why you are personally interested in the position. When writing about your qualifications be certain to note how your experience specifically matches the job requirements being sought.
Other Cover Letters
Cover letters can also be sent with business materials such as reports, grant proposals and marketing packages. Business cover letters should include a salutation, the letter's purpose and a request for a response or statement of next steps. For example, if you are submitting a grant proposal to a funder, your letter's purpose would include specific funding request amount, how the funding will meet an urgent need for your organization and a statement about your organization's effectiveness in reaching its mission.
Cover sheets are a less personal version of a cover letter. They include only basic information such as your contact information and the purpose of the correspondence in a brief sentence or two. When submitting a cover sheet with a resume you may also include the title of the position to which you are applying and your availability. However, whenever possible include a more personal cover letter with your resume. Businesses use cover sheets to send faxes and when sending other correspondence for which a more thorough introduction is not necessary.
Erika Sanders has been writing since 1997. She teaches writing at the Washington State Reformatory and edits the monthly newsletter for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a national nonprofit organization. She received her Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the Solstice Program at Pine Manor College in Boston.