A well written resume becomes the frame of reference for all the communicating you do during your job campaign. When you write a letter to a reference, a contact, or a prospective employer, keep your resume in mind. Often a copy of the resume will be included with your letter, but even if it is not, the letter should share the resume's positive tone and business-like approach.

Both resumes and letters are effective sales tools. Stress your strongest selling points in letters.


  • To transmit resumes to recruiters and agencies
  • To answer advertisements
  • To reinforce and supplement impressions made at interviews, and to clear up any misunderstandings
  • To thank others for keeping you in mind; for giving you information, names and critiques; for evaluating you for a position and for a wide range of assistance that has advanced your campaign
  • To increase confidence in you; earn the next interview or facilitate decision making
  • To finalize job specifications or negotiate compensation
  • To keep offers open, and to accelerate your campaign by using open offers as leverage
  • To accept an offer and confirm details of terms and arrangements
  • To thank contacts as well as interviewers after each job interview


    Letters should be short and simple. Good letters set you apart from the ordinary job seeker and focus attention on your best assets; they help the reader see you as you want to be seen.

  • You should open every letter with a STRONG SENTENCE that will make the reader sit up and take notice.
  • BE BRIEF AND SPECIFIC. Build your letter around a specific goal, usually the exact job you want.
  • FIT THE SITUATION. Show interest in the reader and their needs. Demonstrate that you know something about the reader, or at least about the people in the reader's position. Stress your problem-solving abilities. If you know exactly what the employer's problems are, address them. If you do not, attempt to determine common concerns of people in the reader's position and speak to them.
  • BE YOURSELF. Try to tailor your approach to fit your personality and reader's situation. Avoid being overly aggressive, presumptuous, familiar, cute or humorous.
  • PIQUE THE READER'S INTEREST with a general observation or a challenging thought that will make them want to talk to you, even if no job is immediately available.
  • OUTLINE ACTION. State your next step, or the reader's. Don't make the reader wonder how to respond.
  • After you have drafted each letter to prospective employers, ask yourself, "IS IT INTERESTING? Does it CONVINCE THE READER I CAN HELP SOLVE PROBLEMS? Does each idea CONTRIBUTE TO THE IMPRESSION I WANT TO MAKE?"

    If at all possible letters should be personalized, i.e., addressed to a person by name, not by title.
    Select tasteful stationery and envelopes of high quality, with at least 25% rag content.
    Use business-size stationery (8 1/2" x 11").
    Sign your letters boldly in blue or black ink.


    The greatest danger is sounding like a dry, dull form letter. Adopt a business-like approach, combined with a conversational tone. Your letter will be easier to read and give a better picture of you.

    Avoid pat, meaningless phrases. When someone tells you he is "seeking an opportunity to utilize my experience," or she's "a people person," what have you learned about that candidate? NOT VERY MUCH. Be specific. Deal with concrete reasons the employer should be interested in you.

    Do not try to impress the reader with your vocabulary or your ability to use professional jargon. Professional terms will naturally fit in to your discussions of your achievements.


    Examples of
    Direct letter: when you are aware that an opening exists for which you may be a logical candidate, use a direct letter.
    Answering Advertisements
    Semi-direct letters: addressed to executives or recruiters who are likely to employ people in your field, but who do not necessarily have a position open currently
    Contact development letters

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