There are four basic business letters you’ll use when you're looking for a job:
- Informational Interview
- Reference Request
- Thank you
Informational Interview Request Letter
An informational interview is a conversation with a person working in a field or industry you’re interested in exploring. These industry insiders can give you information and advice you can’t get anywhere else. Informational Interviews are great for helping you decide on a career path, making connections with industry professionals, and finding job opportunities.
Your Informational Interview letter should explain:
Who you are.
- A student? A recent graduate? Experienced web designer? Game designer? etc.
Why you’re writing.
- Be brief, to the point, and include specific details.
- For example, “I am interested in your career field and am hoping to gather first-hand information about it.”
What you want (A meeting? A telephone conversation?).
- Be direct, say exactly what you want.
- For example, “Would it be possible to schedule 20 to 30 minutes with you to ask you a few questions about your work?”
How to contact you.
- Provide an email address you use regularly.
- Provide a telephone number where you can get messages.
Cover letters should always be included with any resume or job application you submit. Customize each cover letter to the job you’re applying for.
An excellent cover letter:
- Is addressed to a specific person.
- Identifies the job you are applying for and how you found out about it.
- Describes the qualifications you have that meet the requirements of the job you’re applying for.
- Explains why you’re interested in the job and/or the company and how you can help the company meet its goals.
- Tells the employer when you are available for an interview and when you can start work.
- Provides information on how they can contact you.
Cover Letter Example (PDF)
Reference Request Letter
A reference letter is a letter written by someone who’s familiar with you. You may need a reference when applying for a job, college, a special program, or other reason.
You can ask someone to be your reference in person, by phone, with a letter, or email. Let them know up front that you understand if they can’t give you a reference at the current time.
You are asking someone to do you a favor so make their job as easy as possible by providing a draft letter they can start from.
Reference Letter Draft for Your Writer
When someone agrees to be a reference for you, you should give them a draft letter so they have a place to start. Things to include in your draft reference letter:
- Activities, awards, or certifications you’ve earned. Describe the positive attributes you exhibited through those activities.
- Say something about how your skills match the job you’re applying for.
- In the last paragraph, summarize the recommendation: restate why you’re qualified and why you should be selected.
- Include a final statement about the recommendation. For example, "Hayden has been my assistant for three years and, in that time, always exhibited an excellent work ethic, organizational, communication, and teamwork skills. Hayden has the skills necessary to succeed in this position and has my highest recommendation."
- Give your recommender a copy of the job posting and a copy of your resume.
Thank You Letter
It’s important to thank people for things they do for you. You can send a thank you to anyone for any reason. Here are a few examples where you'd want to send a thank you letter:
- Referred you to someone else for help.
- Took the time to meet with you.
- Wrote you a reference letter.
- Anything anyone did that helped you move toward your goals.
Thank You Letter Example (PDF)
Letter Writing Tips
Email address: Use an appropriate, professional address. If you don’t have one, create one. Your email address should be recognizable as yours so will work best if it includes your name.
Don’t include pets, sports, hobbies, or your interests. These types of addresses don’t identify you and could be considered offensive.
Telephone: Check your voice message greeting to make sure it’s appropriate for business calls. If it isn’t, change it. Message examples:
Good: Hello, this is [Your First and Last Name]. Sorry I wasn’t able to take your call, but please leave your name and a detailed message and I’ll get back to you. Have a great day.
Not good: Thanks for calling, leave me a message.