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Creating Great Job Search Letters

Whether you are preparing an application letter or an acceptance letter, it is important to understand the purpose of each type of letter so that the recipient can quickly understand the information that you are trying to convey.

Cover or application letters are used to introduce your resume to a potential employer. In the first paragraph, tell the employer that you are interested in working for them and describe the position you are seeking. In the second paragraph, outline your strongest qualifications that match the position. Provide evidence of your related experiences and accomplishments. Make reference to your enclosed resume. Sell yourself in the third paragraph. Convince the employer that you have the personal qualities and motivation to perform well in the position. In the fourth paragraph, suggest an action plan. Request an interview and indicate that you will call during a specific time period to discuss the possibility of an interview. In the last paragraph, thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Prospecting letters are used to find out if a job opening exists or may be created. In the first paragraph, indicate your interest and reveal your source of information. In the second paragraph, outline your strongest qualifications. Focus on broader occupational or organizational skills. In the remaining three paragraphs, sell yourself to the employer, suggest an action plan, and thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Networking letters are used to make contact with a specific person recommended to you by someone else who may assist you in some way with your job search. In the first paragraph, tell the reader how the two of you are connected (i.e., alumni, mutual friend, similar background, etc.). In the second paragraph, state your purpose without pressuring the reader. Briefly explain your situation. In the last paragraph, request a meeting at a mutually convenient time, and indicate that you will call during a specific time period to make arrangements.

Thank you letters are used to express appreciation and interest following an actual job interview or for particular assistance. They should be mailed within one day of the interview but may be handwritten. In the first paragraph, express your sincere appreciation. In the second paragraph, reemphasize your strongest qualifications. Draw attention to the good match between your qualifications and the job requirements. In the third paragraph, reiterate your interest in the position. Provide supplemental information not previously given. In the final paragraph, restate your appreciation.

Acceptance letters are used to accept a specific job offer. In the first paragraph, confirm, accept and reaffirm your decision to accept the position. In the second paragraph, confirm the logistics, including your start date and time. In the last paragraph, express your appreciation for the opportunity.

Withdrawal letters are used to notify the employer that you presently are not interested in working for them. In the first paragraph, state your decision and provide a polite explanation. In the second paragraph, express appreciation for the employer's consideration and courtesy.

Rejection letters are used to decline an offer of employment. In the three paragraphs, acknowledge the offer, show thoughtful consideration and express your appreciation.

Regardless of which letter you are preparing, it is vital that it contain no spelling or grammatical errors. If a friend or family member is a skilled writer, have them read and critique your letter.