A cover letter, covering letter, motivation letter, motivational letter or a letter of motivation is a letter of introduction attached to, or accompanying another document such as a résumé or curriculum vitae.
Job seekers frequently send a cover letter along with their curriculum vitae or applications for employment as a way of introducing themselves to potential employers and explaining their suitability for the desired positions. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one method of screening out applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their positions or who lack necessary basic skills. Cover letters are typically divided into three categories:
- The application letter or invited cover letter, which responds to a known job opening
- The prospecting letter or uninvited cover letter, which inquires about possible positions
- The networking letter, which requests information and assistance in the sender's job search.
Resume cover letters may also serve as marketing devices for prospective job seekers. Cover letters are used in connection with many business documents such as loan applications (mortgage loan), contract drafts and proposals, and executed documents. The MIT Sloan School of Management requests a cover letter as part of its MBA admission application. Cover letters may serve the purpose of trying to catch the reader's interest or persuade the reader of something, or they may simply be an inventory or summary of the documents included along with a discussion of the expected future actions the sender or recipient will take in connection with the documents.
- Wendy S. Enelow; Louise Kursmark (January 2004). Cover letter magic: trade secrets of professional resumé writers. JIST Works. ISBN 978-1-56370-986-9. Retrieved 23 July 2011.