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Comparing Different Types of Job Letters

In today’s ultracompetitive job market, cover letters have been reinvented as aggressive marketing tools, and an entire family of job letters or career management documents has emerged. Career management documents deliver a spectacular array of self-marketing tools for people who want to be seen, noticed, and hired for the best jobs.

The following list briefly describes and compares the various job letters in use today:

  • Job ad reply letter: The job ad reply letter is written in reaction to a published job opening in print or online. Responding to published job openings is the most common job search letter activity. Customize your job ad reply letter by pointing out how you match the requirements of the position it addresses.

  • Prospecting letter: Sent selectively to a small number of potential employers with whom you have some sort of connection (same industry, personal meeting, affinity group), these direct-mail messages are similar to broadcast letters and may overlap with networking letters.

  • Broadcast letter: A type of self-marketing direct mail, the biggest differences between broadcast and prospecting letters are scale and relationships. You send broadcast letters to big numbers of potential employers with whom the sender has virtually no connection. In fact, job seekers often use commercial mailing lists to develop their broadcast letter address book.

  • Networking letter: Most networking letters ask for job leads, not for job interviews. They’re addressed to human networks, requesting that members respond by phone or e-mail. Networking letters typically reach out to those with whom you have some kind of affinity — fellow alumni, members of your church, civic organization, or buddy group, and so on.

  • Resume letter: This direct postal or online mail document doesn’t contain a separate resume. (However, you may attach a separate accomplishment sheet.) A storytelling approach weaves the facts of your work history into a narrative describing your objective. A resume letter is a good choice when your fundamental qualifications are sound but you need to gloss over gaps or other problems.

  • Job fair cover letter: Deciding in advance which companies you want to target at a job fair enables you to write attention-getting cover letters to leave with your resume at the land booth or send online to a virtual job fair. The vast majority of fair visitors don’t make the extra research effort and instead just hand over generic documents, which gives you a huge opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

  • Thank-you letter: Think of a letter written to thank a hiring authority for an interview as another turn at bat to drive home your winning run. Focus on facts and comments that advance your candidacy for selection.

  • Follow-up letter: Also an after-interview communication, a follow-up letter is designed to spur decision action or even serve as a comeback effort to revive your candidacy after a period of thundering silence from the employer.

  • Professional branding statement: How will prospective employers, clients, and customers perceive you professionally? Personal branding is all about your image and your reputation. What you deliver for the money, you expect to be paid. You can use a professional branding statement in letters, online profiles, accomplishment sheets, resumes, interviews, and blog biographies.

  • E-mail cover note: Cover notes are kid brothers and sisters to cover letters. They’re short and to the point. Typically, you send them in text in the body of an e-mail to introduce your attached resume, which usually is presented as an MS Word or PDF document.

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