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How to Write a Formal Letter of Interest

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Including a formal letter of interest with your polished resume enhances your application by highlighting your personal skill set and directly showcasing your professional background to a potential employer. An effective letter of interest accentuates the caliber of your past work and conveys the valuable contributions you stand to make once given the desired position while genuinely reflecting your personality. Writing a formal letter of interest is a methodical process with each paragraph of its four-paragraph structure communicating why you are the ideal candidate for the job.

Review the qualifications and job functions listed in the job description. Take notes on exactly how you fulfill the qualifications and your experiences with the specific job functions, emphasizing the variety and complexity of the tasks with which you have experience.

Type your letter of interest single spaced on standard-sized, 8.5-by-11-inch white computer paper, and address it to the appropriate parties. If the proper recipient is unclear in the job announcement or description, call the company and ask who should be addressed; it is always better to address a specific person than "To Whom It May Concern."

Introduce your interest in the desired position in the first paragraph by mentioning the job description, briefly detailing how you heard about the vacancy.

Highlight your experience in the second paragraph by detailing your professional background and experiences in terms of their frequency and duration. An example is: "I have five years of experience managing a four-star restaurant with a staff of 30, maintaining stock of the kitchen, training new hires and tending to customer concerns."

Emphasize why you are the ideal candidate for the job by linking qualifications listed in the job description to your experience.

Explain in the third paragraph gaps in employment or lack of experience in an area listed as a requirement in the job description. Try to twist those negative aspects into positive aspects. If the job requires experience with kids and you have none, but you have a minor in childhood development, for example, then mention that fact.

Close the letter in the fourth paragraph by requesting an interview and inviting the letter's recipient to contact you via phone or e-mail. Thank him for his time and state that you look forward to hearing from him soon. Sign the letter with a professional salutation such as "Sincerely" and then your name.

Tip

Give an original copy to each prospective employer.

Use an active voice rather than passive voice when writing the letter. For example, write, "I initiated a new program that makes restocking the wine cellars more time- and cost-effective" rather than, "A new program was initiated that would make restocking the wine cellars more time- and cost-effective."

Warning

Avoid including unnecessary information such as personal hobbies, marital status and age.

While the goal is to impress your potential employer, avoid embellishing the truth. Employment can be terminated if an employer discovers a lie, even after the application process is complete.

About the Author

Based in Austin, Texas, Harold Greengrass has been writing articles for local publications since 2003. His work has appeared in "Marinecreek Reflections" and the "Rio Review." Greengrass is a graduate of Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

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