Resume letters are designed for targeted mail campaigns, postal or online. Should you use a resume letter to reply to an advertised job opening when the ad specifically requests a resume? Probably not. But if your resume is likely to kill your chances (due to job gaps and other issues), you should try using the resume letter in its place. Take pains to make it informative and persuasive.

Keep in mind that resume letters should address the classic concerns of a harried employer:

I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your work and your reputation.
I don’t know what you have that I want.
I don’t know why I should read about you, wasting time I don’t have.

Among the following sample resume letters, you'll find a range of formality and presentations:


Short and sweet resume letters

A marketing director (Moran) who wants to change jobs uses a one-page resume letter. He begins with a way-of-the-world statement that works because he prefaces it with “As you know.” Otherwise such statements risk being perceived as overbearing.

The rationale given for changing jobs — working closer to his home — seems reasonable in a time of record-high transportation costs. Responding to a job ad with a one-page resume letter is an option to mute age issues before an interview.


Resume letters for returning moms

A mom (Baker) wants to re-enter the auto industry job market after a two-year absence because of illness and a wish to consider other career fields. She begins with an informal “hook” approach that disarms the reader.

Adding to that overlay of charm, the job seeker adds a summary of impressive experience, capping her letter with three powerful testimonials. Job market reentry issues are good reasons to let the resume letter carry the message.


Resume letters for candidates with top qualities

A savvy lawyer (McKinney) seeking to relocate to a senior-level legal counsel position in a multinational corporation writes an elegant letter detailing his value proposition. The candidate uses no gimmicks, just hard-core competence to sell himself.

Busy executives can more easily read letters than study resumes. For that reason, supporters of resume letters believe that they are more likely to be read than a cover-letter-and-resume package.