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How to Conclude a Letter

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Finishing the Letter

To finish the letter, I would stick with a closing that is comfortable for you and appropriate for business correspondence. Endings such as "Sincerely”, "Respectfully," or even "Thank you" are all appropriate closings. Following the closing, you should skip a line or two (making room for your signature) and type your name.

Format Tips

There are several different formats for business correspondence, all of which have their supporters. Many word processing programs will provide assistance with this process, giving you samples from which to choose. If you are using a typewriter, however, you will have to go it alone. Here are examples of the most common cover letter formats:

  • Full block. This style aligns the text of your letter to the left as well as to the right. This is an option on most word processors, but it's close to impossible with a typewriter. It also looks a bit awkward, as you may have one line that is crowded with text, followed by a line with huge gaps.

  • Block left. This style aligns all of the text to the left side of the page. Text at the right side of the page will appear jagged.

  • Indented. The indented style is the style most people are accustomed to. With this style, each paragraph is indented three to five spaces on the first line. Also, the date, closing, and signature move nearer to the right margin in this format.
Sample Cover Letters for Different Situations

Each cover letter should be written specifically for one opportunity. Sometimes you will be writing in response to an advertisement. In these situations, you should read the ad carefully, in terms of what is said as well as what isn't.

Notice the assertive tone in the last paragraph. If you are applying for a position in sales, you are likely to be comfortable with a job search approach that is similar to the approach you will need to take as sales professional. If you are not comfortable with this type of close, you may not be comfortable in sales.

An assertive close is usually advisable for anyone, regardless of the field for which you are applying. You may never be able to reach the hiring manager, but it is a way of exhibiting confidence. And if you're successful at getting through, it gives you a better opportunity to influence your chances of being hired. This type of close is not recommended unless you are sure that you will be able and willing to follow through. If you say that you are going to call and then don't, the employers may wonder whether this failure is indicative of your character or work ethic.

In Response to a Blind Ad

An assertive close is out of the question when you are responding to a "blind ad" an advertisement with no company name or contact listed, usually only a post office box.

Combination Cover Letter/Resume

Some people will choose to send a letter that is a combination cover letter and resume. While this is not my preferred method, it is worth including a sample of this type of letter. Here is one written for this purpose.

For a Job for which yours Disability Is an Asset

The cover letter is another medium where you may decide to disclose your disability. Although it is seldom advisable to disclose your disability in a resume, there may be times when disclosing within a cover letter may be advisable. While these cases may be infrequent, they deserve mentions.

There may be instances in which your disability may be an asset to you when you are applying for jobs. If you are a recovering alcoholic, you will be able to offer an added dimension if you apply for work as a social worker at an agency that offers counseling or other services to alcoholics. This scenario also holds true if you have a seizure disorder and are applying for a job where you would be working with a similar population.

In these cases, you can mention the disability in the cover letter with the knowledge that a) your disability will give you a certain level of credibility with your clientele that, if not necessary, is at least advisable; and b) that the person reading the letter will be less likely to discriminate against a person with a disability if people with disabilities are a significant portion of the organization's clientele.

Here's a sample cover letter for just such a situation.

In Regard to a Lead from a Friend

Hopefully, a lot of the cover letters that you write will be following up on a conversation with a friend or networking contact. As was discussed earlier, this type of letter has a far greater impact on the reader. Part of the reason for this increase in impact is because of the possibility that the reader will contact the third party directly and inquire about your candidacy. This is great for you in many ways, but it may also provide some challenges.

Depending on how you have prepared this networking contact, there may be the risk that they will disclose your disability. What may seem like an innocent comment by the reference can have a huge impact on the potential employer. I remember speaking with someone who was serving on a search committee for an entry level position at a college. This person knew the person one of the semifinalists referred to in her letter. It was decided that this person should be contacted along with the other references in order to decide whether to bring the candidate to campus.

The person mentioned in the letter was a faculty member on that campus who knew the candidate very well. As the faculty member was describing the candidate, she said, "She was a student in a summer seminar I taught at another school. She was one of the most well prepared students I ever had the pleasure of teaching. She could speak French better than most of the students I have had who could hear perfectly."

Now this was obviously meant to be a compliment, and should be taken as one. The fact is, however, that the compliment also inadvertently communicated that the person had a hearing impairment. This maybe a positive thing, because if the person who was making the call was on good terms with the faculty member, they might have followed up on the comment and found out that the candidate was, in fact, just what the employer was seeking. If the employer had any negative stereotypes about people with disabilities, however, it could be a very negative thing.

If you suspect that your networking contact or one of your references may disclose your disability, you may find it helpful to disclose your disability in your cover letter. This strategy gives you the opportunity to place your disability in a more appropriate context.
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