In this digital age in which we live, very often, your first communication with a prospective employer comes as in the form of a job letter. The key to employment then comes down to how well you write said letter.
To create the best letter for a job you can (and join the ranks of the gainfully employed in doing so) means making a great first impression.
That’s what we aim to help you do here, in this lesson.
In this how-to, we will look at the following:
Knowing the rules
Communicating your superpowers
Make it easy
Why wait? Let’s dive right into how to write a letter for a job!
How to write a letter for a job tip #1: Knowing the rules
We love the “new” rules – the ones that say that content is king and that “formal style” has gone to the wayside.
But the letter for a job is no place for informality. This is when you have to “snap to” and prove that not only do you know the rules, but also that you know how to play by them. Simply put, you need to know the rules of a letter for a job.
To help you to that end, here are the rules:
In the Web 2.0 world, your audience is always second person – “you.” Such is definitely not the case when writing a letter for a job. This is the time to address people by their given names and titles.
In a letter for a job, a man becomes “Mr.” and a woman becomes “Ms.” That is, unless you are aware already of the woman in question’s marital status.
Keep in mind that PhD holders are properly addressed as “Doctor” and judges, senators, and attorneys general become “the Honorable” in written communications.
A faux pas in any of these formalities can discredit your letter for a job, before it is even read!
When it comes time to write a letter for a job, “to whom it may concern” is not a valid recipient. That kind of thing will get your letter for a job thrown in the garbage can or sent to the digital recycle bin.
Tone and phrasing
A letter for a job is not an exercise in academia; it is not blogging. Do not treat it as such.
The tone of a letter for a job needs to be appropriate. The words you choose need to demonstrate that you are operating on the level of a professional in your field.
Are you applying for a job in finance? Assume your recipient knows as much or more about finance than you do. Applying for a job in geographic information systems? Assume your reader knows what you know. After all, you want to come to their world, not the other way around. Assume nothing more, and nothing less.
How to write a letter for a job tip #2: Communicating your superpowers
The main thing that you are trying to accomplish with a letter for a job is communicate your superpowers to your recipient.
That being said, you do not want to go overboard. And that brings us to the next point.
Avoid the following cliché phrases when writing a letter for a job:
“Maximize my potential”
“Achieve stability for myself”
“Opportunities for advancement”
“Excellent communications, both written and verbal”
“Team player” (the most villainous of all)
Think about the deeper implications of common statements like these. Don’t they sound like the kind of crud you are taught in high school career electives?
Phrases such as these are repellant to your prospective employer. Plus, if your recipient has been in their hiring role for long, they have seen such clichés a million times. Trust us, recruiters are not impressed by clichés.
Those are your “don’ts.” The list of “dos” is, thankfully, much more advantageous in the context of a letter for a job.
Here are the best ways to communicate your superpowers in a letter for a job:
Focus on actions and outcomes
List specifics – numbers, percentages, tangible results
Use the present - your best work is not in the past
Ultimately, you want to show is that you are the right person for the job – not that you are, not that you could be, and not that you simply need to be. You, ideally, are the one.
How to write a letter for a job tip #3: Make it easy
The main thing you want to do with a letter for a job is make it easy to hire you, plain and simple.
The best way to land the job is to make it easy to hire you – really easy.
To make sure you stand the best chance of being hired, make sure you take care of the following:
Include contact information
Eliminate typos (how can you be attentive to detail, if you can’t spot a typo?)
Don’t write too much (less is more)
Don’t get too personal
A letter for a job is one of those formal writing exercises that demand attention to detail. Keep it professional and make sure it’s all correct, first and foremost.
Need more pointers? Gotcha covered…
What’s the funniest letter for a job you’ve ever sent? Did you get the job or not? We’d love to hear about your employment applications of yesteryear, for better or worse, in the comment space below!