Correspondence Principles for Hard Copy and Email 1. For All Professional Correspondence, Keep in Mind the Following • Individualize. While there are specific components to types of letters, each letter should be individually tailored and targeted to the recipient. There is no such thing as an effective “form letter” in a job search. (You know when you get a form letter in the mail; a prospective employer knows too.) • Edit. Grammar, spelling and punctuation should be errorfree; wording should be clear, concise and business-like; avoid gimmicky language and slang terms. • Be yourself. Be your formal, business-like self, but express yourself in a manner which is natural to you. Avoid too much “borrowing” of language from sample letters and friends’ letters. Use good examples as inspiration, but don’t copy. • Paper. Use 81/2 x 11 inch, good-quality paper; preferably the same paper as used for your resume. (Particularly for your resume , make sure you choose paper which produces clean photocopies. Some papers with flecks make hazy copies.) • Print quality for hard copies. Produce laser-quality print; choose a proportionally spaced font (like this), rather than an evenly spaced font (l i ke this). You may choose either serif type (like this) or sans serif type (like this). • Email issues. Email is written correspondence. Apply the same rules as in hard copy correspondence: use correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and correctly use upper and lower case. • Record-keeping. Retain a copy of every letter and email you send and receive; mark your calendar for any appropriate follow-up.
2. Personalizing Your Correspondence In addition to the items listed previously, there are generally accepted guidelines for types of business letters. Guidelines and samples of specific types follow. In determining exactly how to word your own letter, think about the purpose of your letter and details of your individual circumstances. For example, if you make a telephone call to an employer prior to sending a cover letter, it makes sense for your letter to refer to the telephone call. If you must respond to an employer’s letter to you, read the letter carefully to draft an appropriate response.
3. Cover Letters: Letters of Application and Inquiry Cover letters generally fall into one of two categories: 1. Letter of application: applying for a specific, advertised opening; and 2. Letter of inquiry: expressing interest in an organization, but you are not certain if there are current openings. Purpose
• Explains why you are sending a resume. Don’t send a resume without a cover letter; it’s discourteous and naïve to do so. Don’t make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer internship opportunity, or a permanent position at graduation; are you inquiring about future employment possibilities? • Tells specifically how you learned about the position or the organization - a flyer posted in your department, a web site, a family friend who works at the organization. It is appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you
write. The employer wants to know how and where you learned about the company and the job. • Convinces the reader to look at your resume. The cover letter will be seen first; therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer and the job. Pay attention to the qualifications listed in the job descriptions. Market yourself accordingly! • Calls attention to elements of your background (education, leadership, experience) that are relevant to a position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples. • Reflects your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm, and communication skills. • Provides or refers to any information which is specifically requested in a job advertisement which might not be covered in your resume (such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing sample). • Indicates what you will do to follow up. • In a letter of application when (applying for an advertised opening), applicants often say something like; “I look forward to hearing from you.” However, it is advisable to take initiative to follow up and thus, saying something like; “I will contact you in the next two weeks to see if additional information regarding my qualifications is required.” • In a letter of inquiry (asking about the possibility of an opening) don’t assume the employer will contact you. You should say something like, “I will contact you in two weeks to learn more about upcoming employment opportunities with (name of organization).” Then mark your calendar to make the call.
4. Information-Seeking Letters To draft an effective cover letter, you need to indicate that you know something about the employing organization. Sometimes, even with research efforts, you don’t have enough information to do this. In such a case it is appropriate to write requesting information. After you receive the desired information you can then draft a followup letter which: • thanks the sender for the information; • explains why you would be a good job candidate for that organization based on the information; and • explains why you are sending your resume.
5. Thank-You/Follow-Up Letters A thank-you letter should be written after: • An interview • A contact is helpful to you in a telephone conversation • Someone mails/emails information to you at your request • A contact was helpful to you at a career fair • You visit a contact at their work site and • Any other contact for which you want to express thanks and develop a good relationship.
6. Acknowledging a Job Offer Courtesy dictates that you acknowledge a written job offer, even if you are not ready to accept or decline it. Take note of the details of the offer and respond appropriately. Items to remember: • Thank the employer for the opportunity presented. • Indicate that you understand the terms of the offer, or if you don’t, ask for clarification. The Career Center CAREER SUCCESS GUIDE www.ecu.edu/career 27