When you begin a job search, or even if you are simply considering beginning a search, it’s a good idea to get career advice from an expert.
You might want to request career advice from someone in your network who has expertise in your industry, someone you attended college with who has expertise in your industry or your companies of interest, or someone who works for a company you are interested in.
One of the best ways to do this is to write letters or send email messages requesting advice.
Best Practices for Writing a Letter Requesting Career Advice
An effective career advice request letter should do the following:
Explain who you are. At the beginning of your letter, explain who you are. If you're friends or close acquaintances, you obviously do not need to do this. However, if you are not close acquaintances, remind the person of who you are and how you met:
- For example, “It was a pleasure meeting you last month at the sales conference in Boston."
If you were put in touch with this person through a mutual acquaintance, then explain the connection:
- For example, “Our mutual friend Linda Smith suggested I get in touch with you.”
State your request. After a brief introduction, clearly state why you're writing. If you're looking for information about specific careers within an industry, then say so. If you're moving and looking for advice about jobs within a particular city, explain this.
State if you are hoping for an in-person meeting or informational interview. Be clear about your intentions.
Provide any materials. You should briefly state your level of work experience within whatever industry you are interested in. Don’t go into great detail here. Instead, simply provide a copy of your resume, or even a portfolio, to give the person a sense of your work.
Follow up. Toward the end of the letter, explain how you'll follow up. You might say that you'll call or email them within a couple of days or a week. However you plan to get in touch, state it in the letter.
Keep it short. Even though it's important to include all this information, you should try to keep the letter short—no more than a page. This person is probably very busy and will be more likely to read and respond to a concise letter.
Proofread and edit. This is a business letter, and it might even be the first impression you give this person. Therefore, be sure to reread your letter before sending it, watching out for typos and grammatical errors. You might even ask someone to proofread or edit the letter.
Use a Sample Letter as a Guide
A sample letter helps you with the layout of your own letter. Examples can show you what elements you need to include, such as introductions and body paragraphs.
In addition to helping with your layout, sample letters can help you see what kinds of content you should include in your documents, such as a description of your job search and a brief introduction of yourself.
While examples are a great starting point, you should always be flexible. Tailor your letter
to fit your own job search and your relationship with the person you’re writing to.
Sample Letter Requesting Career Advice
This is an example of a letter requesting career advice. Download the career advice request letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Sample Letter Requesting Career Advice (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
July 8, 2021
Director, Human Resources
123 Business Rd.,
Business City, NY 54321
I am a friend of Emily Little, and she encouraged me to get in touch with you. I know Emily through a local children’s theater for which I was a lighting assistant this past semester. I also see her at college music performances, as I am in the orchestra.
I am graduating from Acme College this spring and am looking for jobs in the Greater New York area. I am looking for any positions available within the performing arts, specifically theater tech.
I would appreciate any recommendations you can offer regarding this job search. I have attached my resume. Most of my theatrical experience is in lighting and TD, but I have done everything from props to stage management.
Thank you for your time. I will call tomorrow to see when you might be available for a brief conversation. I look forward to speaking with you.
Signature (hard copy letter)