I know we had conversed a few weeks back and you had a few questions about the benefits that come from writing professional and technical letters. I am grateful that you came to me for help in gaining a greater understanding in this field of writing. You mentioned to me that you did not see the difference between a regular letter and a professional letter and you told me that they both convey the same message; however, you could not be more wrong.
This letter will give you a greater understanding of professional letters and I will post some links to give you some extra resources. To start out, I wanted to bring up the need for effective communication. Every day you communicate your thoughts to other people and, at times, some people that you need to communicate with are in remote locations. By sending letters, you are able to communicate who you are, what you are doing, and interests that you have. However, the way it looks and your format can have a drastic impression on the recipient. This letter will show you how to suit up your letter in the best possible way and to communicate how professional you look through the paper. Sure, sending a letter to your aunt in Florida does not need to look fancy and she would not mind if you made it look like you are still in your pajamas. This would be a great example of a personal letter. A simple “Dear Aunt Edna” and a closure of “Love you always! –Ricki” is a great way to still communicate that you are still her favorite nephew. However, can you imagine writing a letter like that to a potential employer? That would be career suicide! I was able to conjure up some great references to help you effectively and professionally communicate yourself to a potential employer.
The University of Wisconsin Green Bay wrote a short article about the simple structure of a professional letter. In the letters, they said, “…it is critical that as a candidate you are able to write professional letters throughout your job search to effectively market yourself to potential employers.” Take a look at the outline of the paper and you will notice that there is far more work that goes into writing a professional paper. Take for instance where you should put the employer’s information. That is right, exactly where you would put Aunt Edna’s salutation! The actual professional salutation for the professional letter comes after the date and the information for the company. It gets even better! In the article, they state that you should never start with “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. I actually laughed because I can think of a few times that I have found myself guilty of starting a letter this way.
The next part they cover is the body of the letter. This information can serve as a great guideline and will ensure that you communicate your letter effectively. It mentions that the paragraphs should range from 3-5 paragraphs and this depends on the content and intent of the letter. Another rule that they suggest is to keep it single-spaced in the paragraph and double-spaced between paragraphs. In addition, it mentions to keep the closing simple with “Sincerely” and then you would space 3-4 lines and type your full name at the bottom. The last step is to sign your name in-between those lines in either blue or black ink. I’ve left out a few things that can add some extra benefits. I would suggest following the link to find out more. They cover information from how to create High Impact Letters, Pre-Interview and Pre-Screening Letters, and Networking or the Informational Interview Letter. Check it out and let me know if you would like any more information.