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Types of Letters for Your Job Search

Writing letters is an integral part of a successful job search - more than you might think.

Job seekers find themselves producing lots of letters.  Those who run a really active search find themselves writing . . . .
   -  letters to accompany their resumes,
     -  letters to request assistance,
       -   letters to thank colleagues for assisting,
         -  letters to introduce themselves to a colleague or company,
            - letters to search firms,
               - letters to refer a colleague or be referred, . . . . .and so it goes.

Job seekers are often surprised by the sheer number of letters they find themselves writing.  It can seem overwhelming.  But it needn’t be.  Understanding the types, and what comprises them, will greatly simplify the task.

Top 2 Types:  Cover letters and Thank You letters
The task is further simplified when you realize that the majority of the letters you will be writing are primarily are of two types:  Cover letters and Thank You letters.  Let’s take a look at the letters you’ll find yourself writing if you are running a really active job search.

Types of Letters - Primary types
  Cover Letters  – Cover letters accompany resumes you send.
    A cover letter should ALWAYS accompany any resume you send, unless the advertisement for the position specifically states not to.  A cover should use a formal format.  The majority of cover letters fall into 3 types:
        1.  Cover letters sent along with your resume for advertised positions.
        2.  Cover letters sent with your resume to companies or organizations you have targeted as firms that are of interest even if there are no openly advertised positions.
        3.  Cover letters sent with a resume to executive search firms and employment agencies.

●  Thank You Letters  – Send thank you letters to everyone who assists you in your search.
     I repeat . . . . EVERYONE!  Thank you letters should ALWAYS be sent following any helpful interaction.  Use a formal format, if you are sending a typed standard letter, or a less formal format for an e-mail or a hand-written note-card.
Send thank you letters to:
        1.  Interviewers - Send a separate and slightly different letter to each individual interviewer.
        2.  Network contacts - Thank your network for any advice, tips, leads, introductions, and information they offer to you.  Following a networking meeting ( in which, of course, you bought, or at least offered to buy, the coffee) send a more detailed thank you stating appreciation for the meeting, for the advice and suggestions offered, and anything else you found particularly helpful.  
        3.  Referrals – Thank any person to whom you are referred, following any interaction you have with them from a helpful e-mail to phone conversation to in-person meeting.
        4.  Rejections - Follow-up a rejection with a thank you letter.  This does more than show you to be a good sport!  It allows you to re-state both your interest in the firm that selected another candidate for the position, as well as your qualifications.  Why?  In case the candidate who was hired doesn't work out, you have made yourself visible as a candidate who can fill the position and is ready to go!
    In short, send a Thank You to anyone who helps you in your effort to find a new position!

Additional Types of Job Search letters
While cover letters and thank you are the types of letters you will find yourself writing most frequently, there are other types of job search letters you should be aware of.  Although written less frequently, understanding these types, and what goes into them, will also simplify the task.

●   Introductory and Request Letters  – Send letters to introduce yourself and your qualifications, and request assistance from a referral, a network contact, or a person you would like to meet to garner information that could be helpful to your search.  An example would be to gain an informational interview to learn about a topic integral to your search or profession.

●  Information Letters  – You may have come across some information which will be helpful to a network contact, employer, team member of a  professional association committee.  Passing it along is a good way to be helpful and stay visible.

●  Referral Letters  – Job seekers don't just get referrals; they make them too!  Job seekers, who run a really active campaign or search, find themselves interacting with, and learning about the needs, of  lots of people.  Referrals letters can be used to refer members of your network, such as fellow job seeker, association members, current employees, to a colleague in need of their skill or expertise.  Again, it is a way to give back to those helping you, as well as simultaneously staying visible and relevant in their eyes!

Writing letters is part and parcel of the process of finding a job.  However, knowing ahead of time the types of letters to write, and when to write them, will simplify the process and make your letters on point!
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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