How to Write Effective Letters for Job Searching

Woman looking over papers
••• Getty Images / Darkcloud

Crafting effective letters is an important part of your working life, whether you're job hunting or simply making connections to help grow your career. At some point, you'll need to know how to compose not only a basic cover letter, follow-up letter, and interview thank-you letter, but also a reference letter and resignation letter. Here are some tips about how to most effectively write these different forms of business correspondence:

Job Search Email

It's important for your email communications to be just as formal and professional as if you were writing an old-fashioned paper letter.

This means that you should know the proper form of address to use for the email’s recipient, the appropriate tone, language, and structure to employ, and where to provide your contact information.

Here's everything you need to know about job search email etiquette including what to include in your emails, formatting, and how to make sure your email message is read.

Writing Effective Cover Letters

Writing an effective cover letter is the first step in grabbing a prospective employer's attention en route to securing an interview. According to Monster's resume expert Kim Isaacs, job seekers often make the mistake of using their cover letter to express what they're looking for instead of speaking to the employer’s needs.

The cover letter you attach to your resume should, first and foremost, be a consultative marketing document – a sales pitch for how your skills and experience are the perfect “solution” to the requirements a company or business is seeking in their new employee.

Review these essential elements to craft a successful letter.

How to Write an Interview Thank-You Letter

Writing a thank-you letter or email after an employment interview is a must. In fact, some employers think less of those interviewees who fail to follow up promptly.

Your letter should do more than say “thank you,” however. This communication provides you with a golden opportunity to once again “market” yourself to the employer by reflecting upon the needs they expressed in your interview and reminding them of the valuable talents you can offer them. A well-crafted thank-you letter, ideally sent immediately following an interview, ensures that you will retain a strong presence on a hiring committee’s radar as they decide upon the best candidate for the job.

Writing Follow-up Letters

If you've sent a resume to a company you'd like to interview with and you haven't heard back right away, what do you do next?

What do you write? Here's advice on composing a follow-up letter to inquire about the status of your job application.

How to Write a Resignation Letter

How you write a resignation letter is important, because it usually isn't easy to resign and stay on good terms with the company you are leaving. Even if you hate your work and can't wait to start your new job, it can be difficult to resign diplomatically and tactfully.

No one can predict the future, however, and thus it’s wise to tender your resignation in such a way that you keep the respect of your employer, leaving the door open for future communications. You never know when you might need to ask them to provide a positive recommendation for you.

Well-written resignation letters can help ensure your resignation goes smoothly and that your supervisors will speak well of you should future employers contact them regarding your performance record.

How to Write a Reference

Almost everyone is asked to write a reference letter at some time during their career for an employee, a friend, or someone they’ve worked with. In order to do this convincingly yourself, you’ll want to prepare by gathering information about the job or school program the individual is applying for, reviewing their resume, and asking them for a list of extracurricular or volunteer activities that demonstrate sought-after soft skills like leadership or organizational aptitude.

Here's how to compose an effective letter of recommendation.

Review Sample Job Letters and Templates

When you're writing job letters, it's helpful to use a template. You can copy and paste the letter, then edit it to personalize it with your own information. It's also a good idea to review letter samples. That way you can see what well-written employment letters look like and spark ideas for writing your own.