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Career Development Center University of Illinois Springfield

Business Correspondence

As a professional, you will be expected to write in a professional manner. At this stage of career development, you should be receiving interview opportunities as well as job offers. It is necessary to know how to properly respond and follow up in a variety of situations. Here you will find guidelines for various types of business correspondence, including thank you letters, job offer letters, and standards for professional e-mail correspondence.

Business Correspondence letter  » Developing Thank You Letters
» Thank You Letter Etiquette
» Job Offer Letters
» Using E-mail for Correspondence
» Info. Interview and Job Shadow Requests
» Tools for Business Correspondence
» Additional Resources

Developing Thank You Letters

Thank you letters are an under-utilized tool in the job search process. A thank you letter is useful in a variety of circumstances, after a job interview, after meeting a recruiter at a job/career fair, following an informational interview, and after you ’ve received materials you requested from a company or organization. There is much debate over the best form for a thank you letter (handwritten vs. typed,emailed vs. mailed). In each situation, you should thank the employer/recruiter/interviewer for his/her time.

Thank You Letters Following a Job Interview

  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time
  • You may send one to each person you interviewed with, whether individually or on a panel. The letter you send to your potential boss should be different than the one you send to the potential coworker who was on the search committee
  • Clarify something you may have said in the interview or address something you   think may be a lingering concern
  • Remind the employer of some of the qualities you have to offer, and reiterate how you would be a good fit with the company or organization
  • Notify the employer if you are no longer interested in the position
  • Always remain positive and polite hgy

Thank You Letters Following an Informational Interview

  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time
  • Thank the interviewer for the information provided
  • Keep the door open for future contact

Thank You Letters Following a Career Fair

  • Thank the recruiter for his/her time at the Career Fair (include date and location)
  • Thank the interviewer for the information provided
  • Reiterate your interest in the company/organization and, if applicable, a specific position
  • Request additional information and a business card from the recruiter

Email vs. Handwritten

There is a considerable amount of debateover the method for sending a thank you letter. Hand written thankyou letters, or even typed thank you letters sent through the mailare the still the standard method. Emailed thank you letters areonly appropriate when you know that a decision will be made beforea mailed letter can reach the employer. In this situation it isstill a good idea to send a hard copy, as it will be more likely tobe placed with your application materials.

Templates and samples for Thank YouLetters are available under Tools for BusinessCorrespondence.

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Thank You Letter Etiquette

One of the simplestways to build your professional reputation is to follow the properetiquette for thank you notes. People who take the time to followup with a nice thank you note where needed are rewarded in manyways. Some employers will favor applicants who send thank you notesto interviewers, and some may even disqualify applicants who do notsend thank you notes. The less than 50 cent investment it will taketo send a simple note will likely reward you with something muchmore valuable- whether that be a new professional relationship, ajob lead or referral, or even a job offer.

Thank You Notes

  • Make sure you know when to thank the person. If you have any doubts, send a thank you anyway.
  • Send a unique thank you to everyone. The letter you send to a potential boss should be different than the one you send to the potential coworker.
  • Be prompt- one to five days afterward is ideal.
  • Double check names, titles, and spellings. Misspelling a name or addressing a note to the wrong person can be very insulting.
  • The thank you should be appropriate to the help you’ve received. If you have simply been able to meet with a referral, a handwritten note should suffice. If the process continues for a while, call (or email) every so often to relate your progress and offer a brief thanks. If the referral turns into a lucrative job offer, you should consider sending flowers or a small gift. Depending on how well you know the person, a business lunch may even be appropriate.
  • Avoid email notes, which usually seem informal. Stamps cost less than 50 cents, and the impression you will make with a personalized letter or note will be worth far more than that.
  • If you do choose to email, take it seriously. Avoid chatspeak, and use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Handwritten cards are usually best. Just make sure your handwriting is legible! If you are unsure, you can either type the note, or write a business style letter. Always leave room to hand sign the note, using a nice blue or black pen.
  • Should you choose to send a gift or flowers, know the recipient. Be aware of their interests and whether they have any allergies before you send flowers or food.

Always proofread for spelling and grammarerrors.

Writing the Letter

What to Include:

  • The first paragraph should state where & when you met the interviewer. Also, thank them for their time and reaffirm your interest in their company or organization.
  • The second paragraph should mention what particularly appeals to you about their company and should reinforce points in support of your interest or application.
  • The third paragraph is the place to mention things that you wish you had communicated during the meeting or event. You can also restate your understanding of the next steps in the application/interview process, if necessary.
  • The closing paragraph should thank the interviewer for their time and effort for their communication and/or consideration, and provide a way to follow up.

Following an Interview

  • If needed, you can clarify something you may have said, or address lingering concerns.
  • Remind the interviewer of some of the qualities you have to offer, and reiterate how you would be a good fit with the company.
  • Notify them if you are no longer interested in the position.
  • Always remain positive.
  • Following an Informational Interview/Meeting
  • Thank the interviewer for the information provided.
  • Keep the door open for future contact.

Following a Career or Job Fair

  • Thank the interviewer for the specific information they provided.
  • Reiterate your interest in the company and, if applicable, a specific position you learned about.
  • Request additional information and a business card from the recruiter.

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Job Offer Letters

Job offers require that you respond in anappropriate manner. You may contact the employer by phone after youhave received an offer, but you should always send a letternotifying the employer if you are accepting or declining theposition. Below you will find guidelines on how to write a letterto accept or decline a job offer.

Accept Offer Letters

Consider it a joy to write letters acceptinga position. Verbal acceptance is suitable for initially accepting aposition; however an acceptance letter is important for severalreasons. A letter formally acknowledges in writing your acceptanceof the position. With this letter you have the opportunity torestate the given start date and salary in the offer letter. Thisis also your opportunity to let your new employer know how tocontact you in the time leading up to your first day, and to letthem know if you will be unavailable at any point.

Decline Offer Letters

The need to decline a position can arise fora variety of reasons. However the employer may not need to knowexactly why you have decided not to accept the position. Yourletter should be addressed to the person who sent you the offerletter. Begin by expressing your gratitude for being offered theposition, and then clearly state that you are not accepting theposition. It is in your best interest to maintain a positive toneas this employer may be one that you need to work with, or evenwork for, in the future.

Templates and samples for Job Offer Lettersare available under Tools for BusinessCorrespondence.

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Using E-mail for Correspondence

E-mail has become a primary method ofcommunication for professionals in our culture and it is subject toseveral simple rules of etiquette. Once an e-mail, is sent it cannot be retrieved, making it imperative that your e-mails reflectyou in the best possible way.

Simple guidelines to follow when writing professional orbusiness e-mails:

  • Send your e-mail from an address that is appropriate. Remember, your e-mail address is a direct reflection of you. i.e., John_Smith77@yourworld.com is appropriate, but johnnylikestoparty@funlife.com is not.
  • Do not use emoticons! As a professional you should possess the writing skills which allow you to express yourself without emoticons.
  • Use proper punctuation, capitalization and grammar. Again, e-mails are another testament to your writing skills.
  • Your subject line should be informative and brief
  • Include your contact information
  • Consider how the recipient will hear your e-mail. Will it portray the tone you intended?
  • Don’t be afraid to save your draft and come back to it later.

The above principles can be applied to mosttypes of business correspondence.

View an article on E-mail Etiquette Visual resource

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Informational Interview and Job Shadow
Requests

Accept Offer Letters

Consider it a joy to write letters acceptinga position. Verbal acceptance is suitable for initially accepting aposition; however an acceptance letter is important for severalreasons. A letter formally acknowledges in writing your acceptanceof the position. With this letter you have the opportunity torestate the given start date and salary in the offer letter. Thisis also your opportunity to let your new employer know how tocontact you in the time leading up to your first day, and to letthem know if you will be unavailable at any point.

Viewand Accept Offer sample. Visual resource

Decline Offer Letters

The need to decline a position can arise fora variety of reasons. However the employer may not need to knowexactly why you have decided not to accept the position. Yourletter should be addressed to the person who sent you the offerletter. Begin by expressing your gratitude for being offered theposition, and then clearly state that you are not accepting theposition. It is in your best interest to maintain a positive toneas this employer may be one that you need to work with, or evenwork for, in the future.

Viewand Decline Offer sample. Visual resource

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Tools for Business Correspondence

» Chronological Resume Worksheet(Word)
» Functional Resume Worksheet(Word)
» Resume Checklist (PDF)

Hands On Resource

» Chronological Resume Sample(Word)
» Functional Resume Sample (Word)
» Resume Word List (PDF)
» Thank You Letter Samples (PDF) »   Thank You Letter for Informational Interview(PDF)
»   Sample Thank You Letter (After a Job Interview)
»   Web 1.0 Tools

Visual Resource

» 21 Ways to Improve Your Resume (Podcast)
» How to Write an Interview Thank You
» Thank You Notes & Business Etiquette   Auditory Resource

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Additional Resources

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