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Writing and Grammar Tips (beta)

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Asking for a Job

Along with a solid resume, a well-written cover letter is the key to catching the eye of potential employers.

The common format for a job query looks something like the following:

Name of applicant

Applicant’s street address

Applicant’s city, State  ZIP


Name of person/department/company doing the hiring

Hirer’s street address

Hirer’s city, State  ZIP

Re: Job Title (ad number, if available)

Dear name of person/department/company doing the hiring:

Introductory statement.

Elaboration of experience.

Closing statement.



Typed name of applicant

Note that queries sent via email do not require the names and addresses of either applicants or hiring contacts/departments/companies. They also don’t require dates. Queries sent via email should begin with “Dear …”

A good introductory statement includes a brief summary of an applicant’s qualifications and/or interest in the hiring/company person. For example:

I am writing to express my interest in the position of Business Analyst (No. 40891). I have thirteen years experience as a business analyst at Company A, where I have evaluated entrepreneurial opportunities for clients as varied as Company B, Company C, and Company D. I am eager to join Company A’s dynamic team and believe I have the skills to advance your bottom line.

Warning: Do not begin an introductory statement with, “My name is … and I would like to work for you because …” More important than stating your name up front is grabbing the interest of your potential employer by describing why your skills and interests are a good fit with the companies’ needs. Describing your interests, however, does not mean going on at length about how great Company A is. Your letter should emphasize your interest in the company but, in general, spend more time on your proven intellectual or work abilities, which brings us to …

After your introductory statement, take one or two (short) paragraphs to describe your experience in greater detail. This is the place to cite specific examples of your accomplishments – projects on which you’ve worked, promotions/awards you’ve received, positive feedback you’ve been given by superiors. It’s also a good place to list your skills – proficiency in operating platforms, language ability, industry-specific skills. Be sure to mention areas important to the position being advertised or (if you’re submitting a query, rather than applying to a particular job) the industry you want to work in. If you know, for example, that a United Nations translator must have, say, five years of experience in a multilingual environment, note that you spent eight years working as a Chinese-English translator in Shanghai.

A good closing statement might include any or all of the following: A reminder of your skills and/or enthusiasm. A reminder that you can be reached at any time. A note that your resume is attached. A note that you look forward to scheduling an interview at the hiring contact’s earliest convenience. A note that you look forward to hearing from the hiring contact. A note that you plan to follow up shortly after sending your letter.

Warning: Stay away from statements such as, “Thus, I think it’s obvious that I’m the best choice for …” or “I would be an outstanding employee who delivers outstanding results …” or “Please consider me for this job, because I really think that I could do well at it …” or “This opportunity would mean a lot to me, and therefore I hope you consider me strongly.” It is up to your potential employer to decide whether you, the applicant, are “the best choice”, and whether you would really be an outstanding employee remains to be seen. It is evident that you think you could do well at the job, else you wouldn’t be applying, and it is obvious you want to be considered, else you wouldn’t have written a letter. Try to conclude with something more along the lines of:

Thank you for your consideration. Attached, is my resume. I look forward to hearing from you soon and hopefully scheduling an interview.

Good luck with your search!

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