Cover Letters, E-Mails & Other Job Search Correspondence
In addition to your resume, several forms of correspondence are important during your job search. While your resume is your primary marketing tool, these documents are key supporting materials and create an overall picture of who you are. They convey your professionalism and can make the difference in your job search. Whether in traditional letter form or transmitted via e-mail, all correspondence should be professional in language and tone, using traditional business letter formatting. Use the same font as on your resume in a size large enough to be easily read – at least 10 pt.
You may use some or all of the following types of correspondence in your job search. Letters should be individually written, not “form” letters. The correspondence includes:
- Professional E-mails
- Cover letter
- Thank you letter
- Prospecting letter/letter of inquiry
- Acceptance, withdrawal and rejection Correspondence
Whenever contacting a prospective employer via e-mail, communicate with the same care as you would in a typed letter or other professional document. E-mail to a prospective employer is not casual and should never just say “see attached resume,” although you may want to be briefer than you would be in a letter. Format an email with appropriate headings, salutations, proper spelling and grammar and a professional signature line.
Some additional rules for using e-mail in your job search:
- In the subject line, make the reason for your e-mail clear: “Application for Analyst Position.”
- Reply to any e-mails from employers within two business days. If you are replying to an e-mail, keep the same subject line as the original e-mail and include the original message in the reply.
- Address your e-mail to a person, if possible, using a proper salutation such as, “Dear Mr. Jones.”
- Introduce yourself the same way that you would in a cover letter; for example, “I am writing with regard to your marketing internship....”
- PROOFREAD! Don’t depend on spell check - it won’t catch words spelled correctly but misused (i.e., “their” instead of “there”). Read your e-mails before sending them for tone and grammar.
- Don’t use emoticons, phonetic spellings such as “ur” for “you’re” or other common e-mail or text messaging expressions. Avoid ALL CAPS, which is interpreted as “screaming” in e-mail, or all lowercase letters, which is overly casual.
- Remember that your e-mail address should also convey a professional tone: “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com” would not impress potential employers.
- Include your own name in the name of files that you attach to an e-mail. For example, JoeJonesResume.doc, JaneDoeCoverLetter.doc. Many employers save all attached documents to an applicant folder; you want them to locate your documents easily.
- Remember that e-mails can easily be lost or blocked by anti-spam measures. Always follow up with a phone call or regular e-mail, unless the employer specifically requests no phone calls.
The cover letter introduces you and your resume and is a vital part of the application process. It should be one page long – a letter that is much shorter or longer runs the risk of not being read. A well developed cover letter can get your resume read; conversely, a poorly written or missing cover letter may hinder your consideration for a position. It is important to write in a way that communicates your enthusiasm for the position and the employer. Each letter should therefore be personalized for the organization, individual, and position. Do not use a template that has not been properly tailored to the specific job.
A cover letter should be addressed to an individual by name, including correct title, company name, and address. Whenever possible, avoid using Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern. You may want to visit the company’s website to find the specific contact name. It is also appropriate to call the organization’s human resources department to inquire to whom you should direct your letter or the name of the position supervisor. Going this extra step is an easy way of demonstrating your sincere interest in the position.
The body of a cover letter should include the following:
- Introduction paragraph. Introduce yourself and specify the position for which you are applying. Indicate how you came to apply to the company: for example, through an online job posting, market research, or a referral by a current employee. Explain what about the organization and position appeals to you – show that you’ve done your research by mentioning one of the employer’s recent accomplishments or projects. Finally, complete the paragraph by stating, in one sentence, why you would make a good candidate for the position.
- Body paragraph(s). Summarize your qualifications in relation to the position for which you are applying, demonstrating what you have to offer the employer (not what you hope to gain from the position). It may be useful to try to synthesize the information into 2 or 3 useful themes that the employer has stated it is looking for in an applicant. Emphasize what makes you unique. Do not simply restate points from your resume – take this opportunity to explain where you developed the skills the employer is seeking and how you used them to accomplish a notable result. Weave together your academic background, activities, and work experience to provide the reader with a complete picture of what you can bring to the organization.
- Conclusion paragraph. Restate your interest in the organization and what you have to offer. Provide your contact information and indicate any next steps you wish to pursue. For example, you may indicate plans to follow up with a phone call at a certain time, or you may request a meeting to discuss the position in detail. Finally, thank the reader for his or her consideration.
It is a good idea to keep copies of all the application materials you send out. If you hear nothing after a couple of weeks, you can follow up with the employer to inquire if any further information is needed and to reiterate your interest.
Keep in mind that just as with resume writing, there is more than one right way to write a cover letter. Solicit feedback from as many people as possible to gain a clearer sense of how you would like to approach yours.
Cover Letter Sample for Full-time Job
Cover Letter Sample for Internship
Prospecting Letter/Letter of Inquiry
A prospecting letter can be an effective way to explore possibilities and gain information about an organization or even uncover hidden job opportunities. A prospecting letter should outline your strongest qualifications. Within the letter be sure to indicate your source of information and do some personal marketing. You can request an interview and should express appreciation for the reader’s consideration.
A prospecting letter should include the following:
- Indicate your interest and reveal the source of the information you have about the employer.
- Outline your strongest qualifications. Focus on broader occupational dimensions to describe how your qualifications, experience and motivation match the work environment, demonstrating how you could be an asset.
- Suggest an action plan—request an interview and indicate that you will call during a specific time period to discuss interview possibilities. Express appreciation for the reader’s consideration.
Prospecting Letter Sample
Thank You Letter
It is important to express your gratitude for consideration in a job opening or for the opportunity to learn more about an organization. Always send a thank you letter to individuals who have given you their time and attention. While a typed letter is preferable, a thank you letter can be handwritten (if your handwriting is legible and neat) or emailed. If emailing a thank you letter, format the email just as you would a typed letter with initial caps, proper grammar, and appropriate salutation and signature line. Regardless, this letter should be sent within 24 hours of your contact with the individual – the sooner, the better!
A thank you letter should include the following:
- Keep it brief but warm and personal. Express your sincere appreciation for the interview or other assistance provided.
- Reemphasize your strongest qualifications. Draw attention to the good match between your qualifications and the job requirements.
- Reiterate your interest in the position. Use the opportunity to provide or offer supplemental information not previously given.
- Restate your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
Acceptance, Withdrawal, and Rejection Correspondence
These types of correspondence share in common the fact that they are written after you have procured an offer of employment. It is acceptable to send such correspondence via e-mail, but be sure to retain a professional tone in all communication.
An acceptance letter should include the following:
- Confirm, accept, and reaffirm your employment decision.
- Confirm logistics—starting date and time; forms, tests and other correspondence to be completed; salary information.
- Express your appreciation and enthusiasm for the opportunity.
A withdrawal letter should include the following:
- State your decision, and provide rationale for the choice.
- Express appreciation for the employer’s consideration and courtesy. Ask them to keep you in mind for future employment opportunities.
A rejection letter should include the following:
- Aknowledge and show thoughtful consideration of the offer. State your decision and provide rationale for your choice.
- Express appreciation for the employer’s consideration and courtesy. Keep in mind that in the future you might want to seek employment with this employer. Be professional and leave them with a good impression.