letters to employers
At certain points in your job search, it will be necessary to write (or e-mail or fax) employers. This handout contains information and guidelines for writing professional correspondence including cover letters, thank you letters, networking, acceptance, withdrawal and rejection letters.
of a Cover Letter
Highlight Experience - A cover letter accompanies a resume being sent to an organization for a specific position or area of interest. The well-written cover letter highlights selective aspects of your background which best suit the employer's needs. In other words, the cover letter bridges the gap between your skills and experience and the qualifications of the position or area of interest.
1. Capture Attention - A well-written cover letter commands the reader's attention.
2. Stimulate Interest - It stimulates interest in you and your resume as well as reflects your interest in the job and/or the organization.
3. Specify the followup - Will you call the employer (and when) or vice versa?
4. Ask for an Interview - The opportunity to interview is the ultimate goal of your cover letter and resume.
1. First Paragraph - This opening
paragraph explains why you are writing the letter. State your
purpose; identify the position you are applying for (if known
for a "letter of application") or the type of position
you are seeking (a "letter of inquiry"), and how
you learned about the opening. If you are responding to an
advertisement, state the name and date of the publication
where you found the ad. If a well-respected person referred
you to the organization, mention the person's name and connection.
2. Second Paragraph - Here you should tell the employer why you are a strong candidate for this employer/job. Highlight relevant achievements, skills and/or experience, mentioning the most interesting points on your resume. Explain how you intend to help the employer and contribute to the organization. Take the time to market yourself - don't be too general, too brief or send them immediately to your resume for details.
3. Third paragraph (optional) - This extra paragraph isn't always needed, but can be included if there is additional information that hasn't been mentioned on your resume or needs to be described in more detail (your cooperative education experience, for example).
4. Closing Paragraph - The final paragraph should be action-oriented. Here you should ask for an interview and state when and how you will contact the employer to arrange a mutually convenient time to interview. Alternatively, be sure to state how and when they may best contact you. Do not assume an employer will contact you once you have sent your cover letter and resume. It is your responsibility to follow up, if necessary. Finally, thank the individual and mention that you are looking forward to meeting him or her.
• Communicate your ambition and enthusiasm.
• Stress accomplishments by explaining how you have met or exceeded specific employer needs.
• Show how previous experiences/accomplishments relate to the position for which you are applying.
• Also, the reader may be judging you on how well you write so do your best to make the words come alive!
• Don't overuse the word "I". Rather than starting with "I", turn some of your sentences around. It is better to give examples of how you did something than to say, "I did this or that..."
• Use active, not passive, verbs. For example use arranged instead of "I was responsible for arranging" (See Resume Writing handout for a list of action verbs.)
• Research the organization before you write the cover letter. Ideally, every cover letter is unique and targeted to a specific position or type of work. Use the information obtained through research to demonstrate that you know something about the company.
• Address the letter to a specific person within an organization. If you don't know the person's name, title, or gender call the organization and ask for the correct information. If you are unable to get a specific name, then using "Dear Sir/Madam" or "Dear Human Resources Representative", are acceptable alternatives. When responding to a "blind ad" (a P.O. Box number in a newspaper ad) with no opportunity to address your letter to an individual or the follow-up person, you can only ask the employer to write or call you.
• Be sure to use an acceptable business letter format. Keep a copy of each letter for your records.
• Print your resume and cover letter on good paper and enclose them in a matching business envelope for a more professional image.
• Make it perfect. Check to make sure your cover letter is free of typos and grammatically correct.
Information On Correspondence To Employers
• See your program coordinator; he/she will be happy to critique your letters.
• The Office of Co-op and Career Services web site provides guides and handouts on the topic of job search correspondence.
• Wallace Library has additional resources for your review.
• The following resources are available in the Office of Co-op and Career Services Resource Library:
High Impact Resumes and Letters (5th edition) by R. Krannich & W. Banis
Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates by Katharine Hansen
Cover Letters that Knock 'em Dead by Martin Yate
The Adams Cover Letter Almanac by Adams Media Corporation
Cover Letters for Dummies by Joyce Lain Kennedy
This is one of the most important, yet least used, tools in a job search. Fewer than 20 percent of candidates bother to extend this basic courtesy. As an interviewee, not only does the thank you letter show your appreciation of time, but also if well constructed, it is an excellent opportunity to again market your skills and interest in the position.
• Thank you letters should be sent as soon as possible after the interview, preferably within 24 hours.
• Sending thank you notes by fax or e-mail is acceptable.
• If you are interviewed by a committee, you may opt to send each committee member a thank you letter, or one letter to the committee chairperson asking that they share it with the other members.
• State that you remain interested in the job, or at least that you are interested in taking the next steps.
• View sample thank you letters
This letter is designed to generate informational interviews, not job interviews, which allow you to meet individuals who can give specific information about a career, an industry of interest, or their position and company.
• View sample networking letters and informational interview letter.
Use this letter to accept a job offer and to confirm the terms of your employment (salary, starting date, medical examinations, etc.). An acceptance letter often follows a telephone conversation during which the details of the offer and the terms of employment are discussed. The letter confirms your acceptance of the offer, expresses your appreciation for the opportunity, and positively reinforces the employer's decision to hire you.
• View sample acceptance letters.
Once you accept a position, you have an obligation to inform all other employers with whom you have had an interview (or have one pending) of your decision and to withdraw your employment application from consideration. This should be done by e-mail because of the immediacy of the job offer process. In either case, you should express appreciation for the employer's consideration and courtesy. It may be appropriate to state that your decision to go with another organization was based on having better job fit for this stage in your career. Do not say you obtained a better job.
Employers are not the only ones to send rejection letters. Candidatesmay have to decline employment offers verbally (ideal) or in writing that do not fit their career objectives and interests. Rejecting an employment offer should be done thoughtfully. Indicate that you have carefully considered the offer and have decided not to accept it. Also, be sure to thank the employer for the offer and for consideration of you as a candidate. This will improve your chances should you later reapply to the employer.
• View sample rejection letter.
Treat the e-mail message you send along with your resume as if it were a formal cover letter. To insure the employer will get your resume, place a text version of your resume in the body of your message and attach a formatted version as an attachment or link to an online version (PDF).
State Your Topic
Always fill in the subject line. Flag your message with a succinct, informative header: ”Interview Follow Up”.
Lengthy e-mails – more than a screen long – are daunting and annoying. If you want a quick reply, be concise. Break long thoughts into separate paragraphs or a numbered list. With friends you can be chattier. It is okay to send a short note in answer to a long e-mail, as long as you acknowledge the information you received: “Thanks for that comprehensive update. I will do X, Y, or Z.”
Create a standard signature that is automatically attached to your business e-mails. Include your full name, title or major (if you are a student), phone number, address.
When an e-mail begs a reply (to a question or an update), do so within a few hours, definitely within the day. When you go out of town, program an “I am away” reply into your e-mail system.
CareerLab: Access to over 200 Letters for Job Hunters from the well known book by the same name. You definitely should check this one out. http://www.careerlab.com/letters/default.htm
Job Search Correspondence: Many types
of letters and descriptions are given on this site. Also covers
e-mail as part of the job search.
MonsterTRAK: Great info on job
search correspondence, including: protocol, cover letters/application
letters, thank you letters, accepting and rejecting offers.