Business Correspondence

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As a professional, you will be expected to write in a professional manner. At this stage of career development, you should be receiving interview opportunities as well as job offers.

 

It is necessary to know how to properly respond and follow up in a variety of situations. Here you will find guidelines for various types of business correspondence, including thank you letters, job offer letters, and standards for professional e-mail correspondence.

 

Developing Thank You Letters

Thank you letters are an under-utilized tool in the job search process. A thank you letter is useful in a variety of circumstances, after a job interview, after meeting a recruiter at a job/career fair, following an informational interview, and after you have received materials you requested from a company or organization. There is much debate over the best form for a thank you letter (handwritten vs. typed, emailed vs. mailed). In each situation, you should thank the employer/recruiter/interviewer for his/her time.

Thank You Letters Following a Job Interview

  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time
  • You may send one to each person you interviewed with, whether individually or on a panel. The letter you send to your potential boss should be different than the one you send to the potential coworker who was on the search committee
  • Clarify something you may have said in the interview or address something you think may be a lingering concern
  • Remind the employer of some of the qualities you have to offer, and reiterate how you would be a good fit with the company or organization
  • Notify the employer if you are no longer interested in the position
  • Always remain positive and polite hgy

Thank You Letters Following an Informational Interview

  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time
  • Thank the interviewer for the information provided
  • Keep the door open for future contact

Thank You Letters Following a Career Fair

  • Thank the recruiter for his/her time at the Career Fair (include date and location)
  • Thank the interviewer for the information provided
  • Reiterate your interest in the company/organization and, if applicable, a specific position
  • Request additional information and a business card from the recruiter

Email vs. Handwritten

There is a considerable amount of debate over the method for sending a thank you letter. Hand written thank you letters, or even typed thank you letters sent through the mail are the still the standard method. Emailed thank you letters are only appropriate when you know that a decision will be made before a mailed letter can reach the employer. In this situation it is still a good idea to send a hard copy, as it will be more likely to be placed with your application materials.

Templates and samples for Thank You Letters are available under Tools for Business Correspondence.


Thank You Letter Etiquette

One of the simplest ways to build your professional reputation is to follow the proper etiquette for thank you notes. People who take the time to followup with a nice thank you note where needed are rewarded in many ways. Some employers will favor applicants who send thank you notes to interviewers, and some may even disqualify applicants who do not send thank you notes. The less than 50 cent investment it will take to send a simple note will likely reward you with something much more valuable- whether that be a new professional relationship, a job lead or referral, or even a job offer.

Thank You Notes

  • Make sure you know when to thank the person. If you have any doubts, send a thank you anyway.
  • Send a unique thank you to everyone. The letter you send to a potential boss should be different than the one you send to the potential coworker.
  • Be prompt- one to five days afterward is ideal.
  • Double check names, titles, and spellings. Misspelling a name or addressing a note to the wrong person can be very insulting.
  • The thank you should be appropriate to the help you have received. If you have simply been able to meet with a referral, a handwritten note should suffice. If the process continues for a while, call (or email) every so often to relate your progress and offer a brief thanks. If the referral turns into a lucrative job offer, you should consider sending flowers or a small gift. Depending on how well you know the person, a business lunch may even be appropriate.
  • Avoid email notes, which usually seem informal. Stamps cost less than 50 cents, and the impression you will make with a personalized letter or note will be worth far more than that.
  • If you do choose to email, take it seriously. Avoid chat speak, and use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Handwritten cards are usually best. Just make sure your handwriting is legible! If you are unsure, you can either type the note, or write a business style letter. Always leave room to hand sign the note, using a nice blue or black pen.
  • Should you choose to send a gift or flowers, know the recipient. Be aware of their interests and whether they have any allergies before you send flowers or food.

Always proofread for spelling and grammar errors.

Writing the Letter

What to Include:

  • The first paragraph should state where & when you met the interviewer. Also, thank them for their time and reaffirm your interest in their company or organization.
  • The second paragraph should mention what particularly appeals to you about their company and should reinforce points in support of your interest or application.
  • The third paragraph is the place to mention things that you wish you had communicated during the meeting or event. You can also restate your understanding of the next steps in the application/interview process, if necessary.
  • The closing paragraph should thank the interviewer for their time and effort for their communication and/or consideration, and provide a way to follow up.

Following an Interview

  • If needed, you can clarify something you may have said, or address lingering concerns.
  • Remind the interviewer of some of the qualities you have to offer, and reiterate how you would be a good fit with the company.
  • Notify them if you are no longer interested in the position.
  • Always remain positive.
  • Following an Informational Interview/Meeting
  • Thank the interviewer for the information provided.
  • Keep the door open for future contact.

Following a Career or Job Fair

  • Thank the interviewer for the specific information they provided.
  • Reiterate your interest in the company and, if applicable, a specific position you learned about.
  • Request additional information and a business card from the recruiter.

Job Offer Letters

Job offers require that you respond in an appropriate manner. You may contact the employer by phone after you have received an offer, but you should always send a letter notifying the employer if you are accepting or declining the position. Below you will find guidelines on how to write a letter to accept or decline a job offer.

Accept Offer Letters

Consider it a joy to write letters accepting a position. Verbal acceptance is suitable for initially accepting a position; however an acceptance letter is important for several reasons. A letter formally acknowledges in writing your acceptance of the position. With this letter you have the opportunity to restate the given start date and salary in the offer letter. This is also your opportunity to let your new employer know how to contact you in the time leading up to your first day, and to let them know if you will be unavailable at any point.

Decline Offer Letters

The need to decline a position can arise for a variety of reasons. However the employer may not need to know exactly why you have decided not to accept the position. Your letter should be addressed to the person who sent you the offer letter. Begin by expressing your gratitude for being offered the position, and then clearly state that you are not accepting the position. It is in your best interest to maintain a positive tone as this employer may be one that you need to work with, or even work for, in the future.

Templates and samples for Job Offer Letters are available under Tools for Business Correspondence.


Using E-mail for Correspondence

E-mail has become a primary method of communication for professionals in our culture and it is subject to several simple rules of etiquette. Once an e-mail, is sent it cannot be retrieved, making it imperative that your e-mails reflect you in the best possible way.

Simple guidelines to follow when writing professional or business e-mails:

  • Send your e-mail from an address that is appropriate. Remember, your e-mail address is a direct reflection of you. i.e., John_Smith77@yourworld.com is appropriate, but johnnylikestoparty@funlife.com is not.
  • Do not use emoticons! As a professional you should possess the writing skills which allow you to express yourself without emoticons.
  • Use proper punctuation, capitalization and grammar. Again, e-mails are another testament to your writing skills.
  • Your subject line should be informative and brief
  • Include your contact information
  • Consider how the recipient will hear your e-mail. Will it portray the tone you intended?
  • Don’t be afraid to save your draft and come back to it later.

The above principles can be applied to most types of business correspondence.

View an article on E-mail Etiquette visual copy (1)


Informational Interview and Job Shadow Requests

Accept Offer Letters

Consider it a joy to write letters accepting a position. Verbal acceptance is suitable for initially accepting a position; however an acceptance letter is important for several reasons. A letter formally acknowledges in writing your acceptance of the position. With this letter you have the opportunity to restate the given start date and salary in the offer letter. This is also your opportunity to let your new employer know how to contact you in the time leading up to your first day, and to let them know if you will be unavailable at any point.

View and Accept Offer sample. visual copy (1)

Decline Offer Letters

The need to decline a position can arise fora variety of reasons. However the employer may not need to know exactly why you have decided not to accept the position. Your letter should be addressed to the person who sent you the offer letter. Begin by expressing your gratitude for being offered the position, and then clearly state that you are not accepting the position. It is in your best interest to maintain a positive tone as this employer may be one that you need to work with, or even work for, in the future.

View and Decline Offer sample. visual copy (1)


Tools for Business Correspondence


Additional Resources

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