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Mar 20, 2019, 22:58
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Professional Cover Letters and Thank You Notes

Even though text-messages, email and casual attire sends the message that the world is a totally casual place, many “old school” business communication standards still thrive.  Using these methods effectively will establish you as a proper professional.  Crafting persuasive cover letters and courteous thank you notes will help set you apart as the right candidate for the job.

If the amuse-bouche is the start of your fine dining degustation, then the cover letter is the amuse of your candidacy with a company.  It is imperative that you whet their appetites.  Likewise, then, the thank you note would be dessert.  Every culinarian agrees that dessert is the “exclamation point” on the meal.

The Cover Letter

The cover letter serves as your formal introduction to a prospective employer.  In many ways it is a “recap” of your resume, but should not be redundant.  You need to strike a balance between over-confidence and meekness, stuffiness and casualness, and create a value perception of yourself.

If you think this all sounds like sales-speak, you are correct.  You are selling.  You are selling you, your most important brand.  Advertisers know they only have a few seconds to draw you into their ad, and you have only a few seconds to captivate a potential employer.  Therefore, you must commit time and effort in your creation of a successful cover letter.

Cover Letter Basics:

  1. Keep it formal and professional.  Get to the point, and do not try to make a personal connection through the cover letter.
  1. Space sells.  Less is more.  Stay on point and do not try to over-impress or sell too hard.
  1. Use white or a very light-colored stock and only black ink.
  1. Three Paragraphs.  No more, no less or you’re trying to over-impress.
  1. Structure.
    1. Your Contact Information
      1. Formal Name
      2. Address (spell out Boulevard instead of Blvd.)
      3. City, State (spelled out or correct two-number abbreviation) and Zip Code
      4. Phone Number
      5. Email account
      6. See Tip #15 and Tip #16 in Resume Section
    1. Date
    2. Employer Contact Information
      1. Name
      2. Title
      3. Company
      4. Address
      5. City, State and Zip Code
    1. Salutation
      1. Dear Mr./Ms. _________,
      2. Anonymously call the place of business to discern for certain if gender is in question (Chris, Pat, etc.)
    1. Paragraph 1 – Answer the following:
      1. Why are you writing to them?
      2. For what position are you applying?
      3. How did you learn about the position?
    1. Paragraph 2 – Answer the following:
      1. What do you have to offer the employer?
      2. How do your qualifications and/or experience match the job?
    1. Paragraph 3 – State your interest and your follow-up plan.
      1. Thank them for their interest.
      2. State the manner in which you will follow up.  (And do it!)
    1. Complimentary Close
      1. Be formal and humble: “Respectfully yours,”
    1. Wet Ink Signature or script signature if sending electronically
    2. Your Name Typed

 

Important Aspects:

        1. Target your cover letter.  Do not create a generic letter.  There is no sweeter sound to a person than their own name (Dale Carnegie).
        2. Ensure correct spelling of names, other proper nouns and foreign words.
        3. Do not rely on spell-check.  Proof read the letter, and whenever possible, ask a colleague to proof read your work for you.  Often a different set of eyes will pick out errors you cannot see.
        4. You may text-message casually.  You may e-mail casually.  You may speak casually.  Keep your business communication formal.
        5. Do not give in to your desire to gush.  Big no-no.
        6. If mailing or presenting in person: ensure that the paper is clean, the print is crisp, the fold is crisp (if sending via mail), and that your return address is printed on the envelope in the same manner as on your letter.
        7. If sending electronically, do your best to ensure that the document they open will look exactly like the one you sent.  Perhaps write-protect a word doc or convert to .pdf, but do not send as a .jpeg or obscure file type.

 

Sample Cover Letter

Arnold Applicant
1 East Delaware Place #22B
Chicago, IL 60611
312.555.5555
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

October 10, 2008

Ms. Joan Q. Hotelier
Director of Human Resources
The Posh-Expensive Hotel
999 Fifth Avenue South
New York, New York 10020

 

Dear Ms. Hotelier,

I am writing to apply for the position of Assistant Pastry Chef at the Posh-Expensive Hotel.  I learned that the position is available through my local American Culinary Federation chapter.

As a graduate of XYZ Culinary School with four years of professional culinary management experience, I am prepared to consistently deliver the superior quality your guests require.  Having worked under top chefs I have experienced the demands, challenges and pressures typical of a fast-paced, high volume operation.

In anticipation of arranging a meeting to discuss the position, I will contact you on October 15.  Thank you for your professional consideration.

 

Respectfully yours,

Arnold Applicant

Arnold Applicant

 

Thank You Notes

The Thank You Note is an often-overlooked formality that leaves a lasting impression when done correctly.  By its very nature, this is a simple expression of thanks for the time given you by the hiring authority.  You’re no longer selling yourself.  In my opinion, to continue to sell yourself or discuss why you should be asked back for a second interview would be the equivalent of asking a favor in a holiday or birthday card.

If sending via snail mail, post out the Thank You Note no later than the morning following the interview.  If sending electronically, wait until the end of the business day if it was a morning interview or mid-morning the next morning if the interview took place in the afternoon or evening.

Different Styles:

  1. Handwritten
    1. Maintain formality by using one of two types of card:
      1. A heavy-stock store-bought card it that says “Thank You” on the front and is blank inside.
      2. Your personal formal stationary.

No kittens or butterflies…this is business, no matter how friendly the HR Director got with you.

    1. Write in legible cursive script.  Have good penmanship, and ensure your rows are even.
    2. Write the date in the upper-right hand corner of the printable area.
    3. Salutation is still formal, but no contact information necessary.
    4. Body
    5. Complimentary Close
      1. A little less formal as you have met: “Sincerely,”
    1. Wet Ink Signature
  1. Business Format
    1. Your Contact Information
      1. Formal Name
      2. Address (spell out Boulevard instead of Blvd.)
      3. City, State (spelled out or correct two-number abbreviation) and Zip Code
      4. Phone Number
      5. Email account
      6. See Tip #15 and Tip #16 in Resume Section
    1. Date
    2. Employer Contact Information
      1. Name
      2. Title
      3. Company
      4. Address
      5. City, State and Zip Code
    1. Salutation - Dear Mr./Ms. _________,
    2. Body
    3. Complimentary Close - a little less formal as you have met: “Sincerely,”
    4. Wet Ink Signature or script signature if sending electronically
    5. Your Name Typed

 

Body - One Paragraph Only:
Short and sweet.  Your opportunity to make the impression was during the interview.  Having done that, this simple note demonstrates that you are a class act!

 

Sample Thank You Note

Arnold Applicant
1 East Delaware Place #22B
Chicago, IL 60611
312.555.5555
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

April 10, 2009

Ms. Joan Q. Hotelier
Director of Human Resources
The Posh-Expensive Hotel
999 Fifth Avenue South
New York, New York 10020

 

Dear Ms. Hotelier,

Thank you for your valuable time and professional consideration today.   It was a pleasure to meet with you and to discuss the Assistant Pastry Chef position at the Posh-Expensive Hotel.  I look forward to our next meeting, and a more in-depth discussion about the position.

 

Sincerely,

Arnold Applicant

Arnold Applicant

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