Letters play a main role in job search procedure. Your application cover letter, in particular, is an important Market Thyself tool which highlights your most attractive qualifications as a potential employee and, if well written, will lead the employer to your resume. In this series, we will describe and provide examples of all the letters you need for job search. There are eight different types of letters. Each one contains different format and effective writing style. We divide them into three categories: The most used letters, the less used letters, and the occasionally used letters.
The Most Used Letters
(Part One of Three)
Before writing a letter, plan it accordingly by placing the most important items first, supported by facts. Get these items from the company's ads and postings and the facts from your work experience and resume. The letter should demonstrate how your background, training, work experience, and abilities can meet those needs. Such an approach will help you persuade the reader that you are a good match for the position and that s/he should interview you. Remember that you are responsible for explicitly communicating your value to the employer.
1. Basic principles to write an effective letter:
a. To personalize your letter, obtain information about the business, industry, agency, or school in which you are interested and refer to this knowledge in your letter. Your letter is your first contact with the prospective employer and your research will leave a good impression.
b. Highlight one or two of your most significant accomplishments or abilities to show you are the right candidate. Be brief to demonstrate that you understand the value of the reader's time.
c. Be positive in tone, content, and expectations. Avoid anything that might show your weaknesses or raise questions about your ability to do the job.
d. Be clear, objective, and persuasive rather than simply describing your background.
e. Use powerful action verbs in your writing to hold the reader's interest and convey a sense of energy.
f. Always back up general statements with specific facts or examples. Documentation creates credibility and reduces uncertainty for the reader.
g. Stick to the facts and tell the truth by emphasizing your strengths.
2. Letter Format:
a. Use usual business correspondence size 8 1/2" x 11" and conservative colors such as white, ivory, or light gray with matching envelop.
b. Use word processor with a letter quality printer and print only on one side of the paper.
c. The letter should be neat in appearance and proofread carefully for form, spelling, punctuation and English usage. Remember the letter is your personal representative to 'Market Thyself.'
d. Keep the letter brief and to the point. The reader will loose interest with irrelevant information.
Type 1 Letter: Application Letter
Every resume you send out will need an accompanying cover letter. The purpose of this letter is to get the employer to read your resume and invite you for an interview. This type of letter is to respond to job advertisements and vacancy announcements. Your approach is to show that your qualifications fit the company's requirements for the position. Analyze the position description carefully and pick out key words or key phrases. Try to match your letter point by point to the requirements by emphasizing key parts of your resume. You may develop one basic letter that can be changed slightly for the different positions for which you are applying. Identify the position for which you are applying and the way in which you learned about it. Indicate why you are applying for this particular position. Keep in mind that the potential employer presumes you are a qualified applicant. Indicate your main qualifications. Keep the letter 'Market-Thyself' oriented. Refer the reader to your enclosed resume.
Sample of Application Cover Letter:
Dear Mr/Ms ____:
Opening Paragraph: Explain why you are writing. Identify the position and your source of information. Indicate in summary your strongest qualifications for the position.
Middle Paragraph: Create a desire on the part of the employer to know more about you. Explain why you are interested in working for this employer. Point out your achievements and qualifications in this field, especially those that meet the job description and requirements.
Refer the reader to your qualifications on your enclosed resume. Highlight important points from your resume, especially the points that are of particular interest to this specific company.
Closing Paragraph: Pave the way for the interview by asking for an appointment, or by offering to call the employer in the near future, or by some similar suggestions to facilitate an immediate and favorable reply. Thank the reader for his/her consideration.
Your name (typed)
Enclosed (enclose your resume)
Type 2 Letter: Thank You Letter
After an interview, it is advisable to send a thank you letter to the interviewer/recruiter, both as a professional courtesy and as a method of establishing communication with the company. The letter should be mailed within one or two days of your interview. It needs only two or three paragraphs. State the date and place you had your interview and reiterate your strongest Market-Thyself points.
Sample of Thank You Letter:
Name and title of interviewer
Dear Mr./Ms ____:
Thank you for the interview on (date) at (location and address). I am very interested in the (position, kind of work) and hope that the interest is mutual.
I am enthusiastic about the prospect of joining your organization. (Describe what about the organization is sparking your interest.) My (name your background, skills, or work experience) would enable me to make the transition to a position in your firm with relative ease.
(Optional paragraph to add more information): In reviewing the interview, I was aware that we did not discuss the area of _______. I would like to add that ______ (or enclose anything to strengthen your candidacy for the position).
(Optional paragraph to cover information unsatisfactorily presented in the interview): In reviewing the interview, I feel that I did not accurately answer your question about ____________
If you have any questions, please call me at (area code-telephone number). I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you again for the interview.
Your name (typed)
Type 3 Letter: Acceptance Letter
Use this letter to accept a job offer. Your letter should confirm the position, the terms of your employment: salary, starting date, hours, benefits, etc (refer to the original offer letter). Usually employers will telephone first and discuss the terms of employment. Accepting the offer constitutes a moral (not legal) contract between you and the employer.
Sample of Acceptance Letter:
Name and title
Dear Mr./Ms ____:
I am writing to confirm your offering me a position in (company) as (position) at an annual salary of $(dollars). I am very pleased to accept this offer. I am certain that tha duties assigned to me will be interesting and challenging.
I look forward to my future association with (company). As advised in your letter, I will report to your offer at 8:30 a.m. on (date).
Your name (typed)