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Your practical guide

Tips

Make your task easier: prepare for writing your letter

  • Find out all the necessary information about the addressee of your letter (their exact name, precise and complete address) and show that you are not sending out your mail at random but that you know whom you will be speaking to.
  • Draw up a list of all the elements you have/want to put in the letter: things you want to say about yourself, questions you want to ask the company.
  • Try to put yourself in the position of the person receiving your letter and then present yourself in the way they would expect of a candidate, what they would like to know, what they would find irrelevant, specify the elements you would logically emphasise and the skills you would bring: list your strong points and your assets.

Four elements to bear in mind when composing your letter

  • The structure of the letter
    It is important that the contents of a letter are coherent and that the elements laid out follow logically one from another so that the reader understands instantly what you are telling them.
    In the context of your unsolicited application: 4 themes will be tackled successively and chronologically:
    • The circumstances of your application: in this case it will be an unsolicited application.
    • The company, its market, and its future: point out your specific skills and qualities and what they could bring to the company.
    • The important aspects that you want to highlight: mention a specific experience; give concrete examples that have had positive outcomes.
    • A closing phrase to take leave of your reader.

 

In conclusion, structure your letter in coherent passages to form consistent paragraphs of about 5 lines each.

In total your letter should comprise at least three paragraphs plus a greeting.


  • The contents of the letter
    • The essential basic elements: name and address of sender, date, purpose, name and address of addressee, title of addressee, greeting and signature.
    • The body of the letter, which is structured in the following manner:
      • Introduction: in it you must attract the attention of the reader so take special care over this section and personalise it.
      • Reason for writing: you must say why you are writing and what you are asking for. This section should be catchy and arouse the interest of the reader.
      • Proposal: set out your proposal, i.e. your skills and qualities, what they would bring to the company and the reasons why you’re requesting an interview.
      • Summing up: you have put forward your case, you refer your reader to your curriculum vitae for further details, you sign off and propose a meeting for an in-depth interview.
      • Closing: letter ending. Choose carefully which phrase to use: some turns of phrase that may seem elegant don’t suit this type of letter at all while there are others whose exact sense we are no longer familiar with that can lead to confusion.

  • The length of the letter
    • It is a unanimously held view that a good letter of introduction should be short and should not exceed a maximum of 15 to 20 lines so that it can be read very quickly.
    • Be concise in what you want to say and avoid writing anything pointless or unnecessary.
    • Once more, take into account the fact that the recruiter has to read many letters a day and that, given this fact, any overlong passages will count against you.

  • Language and style
    • In the opinion of recruiters, the style of an introductory letter should be direct and simple: written in the present tense and in short sentences (maximum 15 to 20 words).
      • Therefore avoid using any language of which you do not have a good grasp or any words that you do not understand perfectly.
      • Use positive constructions rather than negative ones, cut out present participles, conditional verbs or the passive voice and redundant adverbs.
      • Give preference to verbs of action and always choose precise verbs.

 

Finally, check your spelling. If need be, have someone else read your letter. Nothing will count against you more than a letter littered with spelling mistakes.

  • Layout
    • You may opt for a classical or a more modern layout, but the most important thing is that the presentation of your letter is impeccable – no crossings out, no stains, no finger marks – on clean white unlined A4 paper, not torn or crumpled.

  • Some stock phrases
    • Introduction
      • I am pleased to offer my candidature for the job of ... should you be recruiting for that position.
      • Recently published information about your company prompts me to offer my candidature for the position of...
      • I appreciate the dynamism that your company shows and I would very much like to join your team.
      • Your company may be looking for someone with the knowledge and skills perfectly suited to...
      • If your company is looking for a.... you will be interested in the experience I have gained in that field.
    • Closing/taking leave
    • If my experience interests you, I would be happy to meet you and, with this in mind, I leave you, .... with best wishes.
    • Hoping to give you more information face to face, I leave you, ...
    • Hoping to meet you to be able to provide you with more detailed information, ...
    • Hoping to talk to you, I leave you, ..., attentively yours.
    • Looking forward to hearing from you, I leave you….
    • If you would like to know me better, I would be very pleased to give you more details in an interview and, with this in mind, I leave you...
    • I am at your disposition and willing to meet at your convenience in order to give you more details, and with this in mind, I leave you....
    • I thank you in advance for the attention you have paid to my application and would like to take this opportunity to offer you my sincere greetings.

A few useful links where you can find out more

http://www.references.be
http://www.leforem.be
http://www.references.be

 

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