5 Effective Ways to Enhance a Job Ad Reply Letter

Good job letter writers know there are certain techniques that can make your application stand out from all the others. The following examples give you the scoop on some great techniques to employ in your job search letters and examples that use them.

Magic connectors

Candidates who document point for point their capacity to accomplish what the employer wants accomplished earn interviews. A T-letter is a popular way to do this. After an introductory paragraph, the T-letter presents two columns. In the left column, you list the employer's job requirements; in the right column, you list your qualifications as they match the job's requirements.

The following three samples illustrate the visual power of directly connecting job requirements with candidate qualifications:

  • A food chain manager approaches a food company that seeks a category manager. She uses a "T" letter format and emphasizes her key qualifications in bold typeface.

    [Credit: Louise Garver, CPBS, JCTC, CMP, CPRW, CEIP — Broad Brook, Conn.]
    Credit: Louise Garver, CPBS, JCTC, CMP, CPRW, CEIP — Broad Brook, Conn.
  • A satellite operations manager jumps right in with a comment that she's a match. The candidate also calls attention to her status of qualified candidate in a vertical treatment. A "You require" list appears on the left side of the page. An "I offer" response appears directly across the page on the right.

    [Credit: Phyllis G. Houston — Upper Marlboro, Md.]
    Credit: Phyllis G. Houston — Upper Marlboro, Md.
  • A senior sales specialist takes a one-two-three bingo! approach to matching the job's requirements with her "been-there-done-that" and "can-do's."

    [Credit: Susan Guarneri, MRW, CERW, CPRW, CPBS, NCCC, DCC — Three Lakes, Wis.]
    Credit: Susan Guarneri, MRW, CERW, CPRW, CPBS, NCCC, DCC — Three Lakes, Wis.

P.S. winners

Observe the use of a postscript (P.S.) to prod contact by directing eyes to a super selling point or a potential benefit to an employer. This old marketing copywriter's trick animates letters and hijacks attention, as you see in the following two samples:

  • A marketing executive uses a postscript that reinforces his headline of "Confidential," to accomplish two aims: (1) to keep his job search under the radar and (2) to position himself in the currently employed candidate category (translation: he must be good because someone hired him).

    [Credit: Tanya Sinclair, CHRP, MCRS — Pickering, Ontario, Canada]
    Credit: Tanya Sinclair, CHRP, MCRS — Pickering, Ontario, Canada
  • A communications information technology executive writes a postscript containing the tease of his solution to an unrecognized industry problem.

    [Credit: Kevin R. Morris — Naples, Fla.]
    Credit: Kevin R. Morris — Naples, Fla.

Fast starters

Opening a letter with pizzazz contributes enormous value to its successful journey through screening activities, as these two samples show:

  • A transitioning military veteran not only saves the employer time by specifying his interest in a specific job opening and where he found it, but follows quickly with related leadership traits in bold type.

    [Credit: Deborah Barnes, CPRW, JCTC— Nahant, Mass.]
    Credit: Deborah Barnes, CPRW, JCTC— Nahant, Mass.
  • A Red Cross emergency manager opens his letter with the intensity of a crime novel — "I don't scare easily." He names his areas of expertise and the skills that make interviewing him essential.

    [Credit: John Femia, CPRW — Schenectady, N.Y.]
    Credit: John Femia, CPRW — Schenectady, N.Y.

Praise gold

American humorist Will Rogers wrote it right: "Get someone else to blow your horn, and the sound will carry twice as far." When a candidate sets the stage with positive comments by others, employers are impressed. That person is no longer a "nobody that nobody knows."

Note how these two samples presell the candidate by quoting kudos from others at the top of the letter, in the right column, or in the body of the letter:

  • A direct sales ace seeking a managerial position headlines impressive praise from a former employer.

    [Credit: Billie R. Sucher, CTMS, CTSB, JCTC, CCM — Urbandale, Iowa]
    Credit: Billie R. Sucher, CTMS, CTSB, JCTC, CCM — Urbandale, Iowa
  • A part-time, temporary instructor candidate uses quotations from previous performance evaluations to great effect.

    [Credit: Karen Mitchell — Lititz, Pa.]
    Credit: Karen Mitchell — Lititz, Pa.

Design arts

Looks count in attracting favorable notice in all media. To rewrite Steve Jobs, "Design is not just what it looks like. Design is what makes you take a second look."

Even so, some applicant software systems have trouble handling creative formats. Even so, some designs are so attractive, they're tough to ignore, as these three samples illustrate:

  • A sales manager makes a wise choice of a design that virtually guarantees a stop-what-you're-doing-and-read-this reaction. Using two columns and a vertical rule, the cover letter effectively overviews his value proposition: broad experience, commitment to excellence, skill in communications, and strategic planning.

    [Credit: Edward Turilli, CPRW — North Kingstown, R.I., and Bonita Springs, Fla.]
    Credit: Edward Turilli, CPRW — North Kingstown, R.I., and Bonita Springs, Fla.
  • A sales associate leads with a tasteful thumbnail list of core competencies and skills at the top of her letter.

    [Credit: Laurie Berenson, CPRW, CEIC— Franklin Lakes, N.J.]
    Credit: Laurie Berenson, CPRW, CEIC— Franklin Lakes, N.J.
  • A small business owner–turned–job seeker features a branding circle of strengths to call attention to her marketing and creative strengths.

    [Credit: Stephanie Clark, CRS, CIS — Nanaimo, B.C., Canada]
    Credit: Stephanie Clark, CRS, CIS — Nanaimo, B.C., Canada
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