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Tips for Writing a Job Ad Reply Letter

Writing a job ad reply letter that answers a print or online job ad is a nearly universal experience, but the right reply is far from universal. Use your judgment in deciding on a letter style that best fits your target industry and your personality.

Following are tips and ideas that you can put to use in your own job ad reply letters:

  • Connect requirements with qualifications: Candidates who document point for point their capacity to accomplish what the employer wants done are rewarded with interviews. Be sure to directly connect a job's requirements with your qualifications.

  • Include P.S. winners: Use a postscript to prod contact by directing attention to a super selling point or a potential benefit to an employer. This old marketing copywriter’s trick animates letters and hijacks the attention of the employer.

  • Open with a fast start: Opening a letter with pizzazz contributes enormous value to its successful journey through screening activities. For example, a Red Cross emergency manager might open his cover letter with the intensity of a crime novel — “I don’t scare easily.” He names his areas of expertise and skills that make interviewing him essential.

  • Open with praise: Lead off a job ad reply letter with praise from others at the top of the letter or in a right-hand column. You can use quotations from previous performance evaluations to great effect. When a candidate sets the stage with sincere expressions of regard and honor, employers are more likely to return the favor with an interview.

  • Use an eye-catching design: Some job letter designs are so attractive, they’re tough to ignore. Looks count in attracting attention in all media, including job ad reply letters and other career management documents.

  • Include charts and graphs: An unexpected visual design feature, such as charts and graphs, adds high impact. Charts most commonly are used to dramatize sales specialties, but they can be used in any occupation to highlight measurable accomplishments and achievements.

  • Use formatting to grab attention: Use bold typefaces, italics, or underscoring to highlight some combination of: the position sought, accomplishments and achievements, skills and personal characteristics, and special benefits (such as security clearances and fluency in more than one language). But remember to be tasteful and don't overdo the use of formatting.

  • Tell a memorable story: Simply being remembered as a qualified individual among faceless hoards of applicants is a big threshold to cross. A memorable story helps employers recall individuals when deciding who to interview. Add humanizing touches that bring readers closer to good feelings about unknown candidates:

  • Climb the corporate ladder: Unless hiring for a position is predetermined, moving up or to a new location within the same organization requires the same level of excellent self-marketing messaging as that of an application to a new firm. Take notice of how a good marketing letter flows to open new doors in the same organization.

  • Emphasize the main point: Focus on getting to the heart of the matter. What is the one factor that, if missing, kills interest in your candidacy? Always try to pinpoint the make-or-break factor in a hiring decision and nail it in your job ad reply letter.

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