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6 Ways to Organize Information in a Job Letter

When applying for a job, you want your introductory letter to be easy for your reader to follow. Here are several formats to suggest how to organize your letter. You can use any organizational format with any occupation:

  • Problem/solution: The problem/solution format starts with "Here's the problem" and ends with "Here's how I solved it." Case histories and success stories blossom in this favorite format for job search letters and resumes.

  • Inverted pyramid: News stories use this format. You start with a lead paragraph summarizing the story, with the following paragraphs presenting facts in order of decreasing importance. In your cover letter, you state a comprehensive goal, career desire, or position at the beginning and then provide specific examples in the following paragraphs to support your aim.

  • Deductive order: Much like the inverted pyramid, the deductive order format starts with a generalization and ends with specific examples supporting the generalization. For example, you can start by making a general statement about a skill and then support that statement with facts.

  • Inductive order: Begin your letter with a story or anecdote, and then lead the reader to the conclusion you want him or her to draw from the story or anecdote. Explain how that story or anecdote supports your ability to succeed at the job you've targeted.

  • List: Separate your letter into distinct points and set off the points with headings, lines, bullets, or numbers. Put the most important point first. This format is especially effective for enumerating experience and skills.

    Alternately, you can combine distinctive point data with the two-column format of the T-letter, as shown here in the Lori Armstrong letter:

    [Credit: Louise Garver, CPBS, JCTC, CMP, CPRW, CEIP — Broad Brook,Conn.]
    Credit: Louise Garver, CPBS, JCTC, CMP, CPRW, CEIP — Broad Brook,Conn.
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