Application Letter vs Cover Letter: Differences

Landing a job in any industry today requires diligence and a commitment to properly presenting yourself to potential employers. When you are interested in starting a job search of your own, understanding the difference between application letters and cover letters can help you submit the right documents any time you apply for a new position. Knowing the differences between application and cover letters will give you an idea of when it is appropriate to use either one while job hunting.

Application Letter purpose

Application Letter purpose An application letter is often more thorough than a traditional cover letter. You can send an application letter to companies and potential employers even when there are no current job openings being posted as available online or within the company directory. Application letters include more thorough details of your work experience, skills, education and your overall qualifications for the positions you are interested in, rather than simply highlighting what you have to offer. Sending an application letter is ideal if you are looking for new ways of promoting yourself professionally or if you have multiple ideal jobs you would like to obtain. Application letters improve your overall professional reputation while giving you a chance to be given additional opportunities in the future.

Purpose of a Cover Letter

The purpose of a cover letter is to inform a potential employer of why you are qualified to work in a position you want, while also formally addressing them before attaching your resume along with the letter itself. A cover letter is not as in-depth as an application letter, as it generally simply covers why you are seeking the job and the position you want to obtain. Cover letters are typically essential when you are applying for a new job, whereas application letters can be sent separately to potential employers without the attachment of a resume.


Application letter introductions are often longer than cover letter intros, and include details about relevant skills, work experience and even education you have obtained that may come in handy with the job you are trying to get. Cover letter introductions may also include why you want the position you are applying for, but are often only 2 to 3 sentences in total.

Creating an enticing introduction within your application letter can help to captivate your audience, whether a hiring manager or an employer is reviewing the letter him or herself. The more detailed you are with your application letter introduction, the more likely you are to receive feedback or even a call requesting you for a future job opportunity and interview.

Formatting differences

Formatting cover letters vs. application letters is not too different from one another, depending on how much information you plan to include when writing out your application letter. Application letters often include multiple paragraphs, which are more lengthy than traditional cover letters. Cover letters include a section to address who will be receiving the letter, followed by a shorter introduction, body paragraph and conclusion.

Application letters also include conclusions, which should be strong and to the point, including details requesting a follow-up interview or phone call. The length of a conclusion is usually just one paragraph, for both cover and application letters.

When to send an Application Letter

Knowing the differences between cover and application letters is a way for you to properly format your own resume or the document you choose to use when you want to appeal to potential employers. The better the understanding of the two types of letters, the easier it is to communicate to employers in a way that increases your chances of being hired.

Sending an application letter can be done even when there are no open positions available for the company you want to work in. An application letter highlights your skills and experience for potential future opportunities, even when there are no active jobs that are available at the time of sending one in.