Write Effective Letters

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Before you send any letters, it is important to devise some way of keeping track of what you have sent. For example, if you send out a letter to Mr. Smith asking for an interview and offer to call him during the week of June 6, you need to have that date on record so you can be sure to meet that commitment.

If you are sending out 40 letters to various employers, it can be critical to know what you have said in a particular letter in order to follow up with them. Two methods of organizing your letter campaign are to use a chart or file system. The format should attract attention AND create interest!

Chart System

  • Create a chart with columns for the prospective employer’s name, the person contacted, the date sent, any commitments you made in the letter, and follow-up action taken.
  • Make another chart for the responses you receive from each letter. Include column headings, such as the prospective employer’s name, person who replied, date of reply, and action taken.
  • Keep these charts current and file the letters you receive.

File System

  • Save copies of all letters you send out and file them in an electronic or paper folder. Set up another folder for the correspondence you receive that requires further action on your part and a third folder for your rejection letters.
  • The file system can be especially helpful because you can access previous correspondence when composing additional letters. You also can look back over the letters and emails you have sent to determine which ones were generating interviews.effective letter

Choice of Cover Letter Format

  1. Broadcast Letter

This type of letter is used to broadcast your availability to many employers in your field without writing a separate letter for each one. Although it is not usually used to pursue a specific job lead, it is wise to personalize it. Examples:

  • “I am writing to highlight my qualifications for a position as an account executive at…”
  • “I am very aware of the changing role of the nurse in today’s hospital and clinic settings…”
  1. Targeted Approach

The targeted approach is used to investigate a specific job lead. You may be answering an ad or investigating a suggestion offered by The Career Center, a relative, friend, or faculty member. It is important to thoroughly read and reread the job advertisement to determine the potential employer’s needs. This way, you can demonstrate how your abilities can be applied to meet those needs.

Tailor your letter to the job description specified in the ad.
Some reading between the lines may be necessary so you can customize your response. Be sure to:

  • Answer the ad as soon as possible after it appears, allowing yourself enough time to prepare your response.
  • Be as innovative as possible! Make sure your letter stands out.
  • Be straightforward, professional, and business like.
  • Be brief! As with the resume, stick to the facts.
  • Try to determine which accomplishments and skills would be most attractive to a particular employer.
  • Answer all questions, with the exception of responding to the request for salary requirements. In this case, it is advisable to simply indicate that it is open and negotiable.

Remember that the primary purpose of the letter is to get you in the door for the interview – make sure it has impact! Examples:

  • “My academic background, together with my work experience, has prepared me to function especially well as a technology specialist for IBM.”
  • “My teaching experience and research skills are directly related to the department’s core program activities.”


Inquiry Letter

First, prepare a list of organizations which complement your interests, qualifications, and the position(s) you are seeking. Then, write a letter of inquiry to employers requesting employment information. It is important to research the organization as much as possible to give credibility to your contact letter. In your letter:

  • Write to a specific person within the organization. As a general rule, send the letter to the employment, recruitment, or personnel manager in the personnel or human resource department to which you are applying.
  • If the contact person’s name is not available, address your letter “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Search Committee Cahir”.
  • State your exact interest in the organization and explain why they should be interested in you.

Letter of Acknowledgment

Once you have received an offer from an organization. It is important to respond as soon as possible. While an immediate “yes” or “no” is not essential, acknowledgement of the offer is expected.

  • Acknowledge the receipt of the offertips
  • Express your appreciation of the offer
  • Tell the employer when you expect to make a decision.
  • Respond to the offer within 48-60 hours with your decision.

Letter of Declination

As a matter of courtesy, a letter declining the offer is due to those organizations you are rejecting. Despite the negative nature, it is vital that these employers know your decision. Such a letter often follows a telephone call, making your decision a matter of record and avoiding any confusion arising from verbal communication. In your letter:

  • Express appreciation for the offer
  • State the exact position for which you were being considered
  • Mention the name of your potential supervisor
  • Decline graciously
  • Briefly explain the reason for your choice, sticking to the facts.
  • Do not profusely apologize. Simply re-express your appreciation.

Letter of Acceptance

Once you have decided to accept the offer, the employer should be notified immediately. Employers will appreciate your promptness as it will allow them to assess the status of their personnel selection process. In your letter:

  • Acknowledge your receipt of the offer by letter, face-to-face meeting, or telephone on the date it occurred.
  • Be as specific as possible, mentioning starting salary and supervisor’s name
  • Be sure to list and detail items (benefits, moving expenses, etc.) agreed to in the offer.
  • State when you will be able to report to work.
  • Express appreciation to your contact person and anyone else who has been particularly helpful.
  • Ask if any other information is required.

(2) Example of a Cover Leter

Letter Writing Do’s and Don’ts

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