Staring at a blank sheet of paper and hoping it will magically turn into the business correspondence you need?
Maybe you need to write a letter of complaint or a cover letter to get that interview or ask for assistance with a special project. You want your letter to impress and be appropriate but you don’t know where to start.
The first place to start with professional communication is a template. Lookup a sample business letter format either in a book or on the computer. Your library will have many sources. Don’t worry about the many choices of formatting, sometimes the simplest is the best; however, choose the one that most appeals to your style.
A simple professional format begins with the date on the first line on the right side of the page. Unless it is absolutely impossible, all business correspondence should be typed. If you are using a computer be sure to set your formatting for full line justification for a much cleaner and sophisticated look.
After skipping a line enter the recipient’s company name and address. After skipping another line you’re ready for your salutation. Avoid Dear Sir or Madam or To whom it may concern especially if your letter needs to make a good impression. These greetings leave the impression that you’re too lazy to find out whom it does concern about. A quick phone call can usually get you a real name, but be sure to ask for spelling and write it down. Nobody appreciates their name being misspelled.
Now it’s time to get down to business. You should write the first draft, getting all your thoughts and ideas out without consideration of order or editing. But then it’s time to take a close look, organize your sentences, and remove any extraneous fluff. Your first paragraph should identify the situation you’re writing about and give a brief summary.
Your next short paragraph (no need for indentation, but leave a line space between paragraphs) should address the solution or request. If you have a complaint, be very specific about what you would like to see done in answer. If you are writing a cover letter, explain how you would be the perfect candidate for the job.
Your final paragraph should thank the recipient for their time and give a time frame for response. Now you’re ready to dash off your Sincerely leave four spaces and type your name. Print and sign and you’re ready for a stamp. Stationary is of utmost importance if you’re aiming to impress. It should be good quality linen and white or light ivory in color.
If an email is appropriate you should still follow professional business letter formatting. If you are sending along with a resume or other document they should be included as attachments and should contain identifying information such as your name in the file name to avoid any confusion. Also, be sure to use an appropriate and professional subject line.
Professional letters should not whine, beg, or tell your life story. Get help from a trustworthy friend before you send off your final draft.