5. Do Stand Out From The Crowd
Of course professional letters should be just that. . . professional. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t be personal. Try to insert some personality into you letter by making a connection with the recipient in some way. Have you met this person? You can open by saying "It was so nice to meet you at last week’s reception." Do you have something in common or a shared interest? Mention it! Especially if you have interviewed or conferenced with this person, it will serve you well to mention a specific aspect of your conversations. It will likely peak the interest, or at least stir a memory in the reader, which will hold their attention…your ultimate goal.
Extra Advice for Business Correspondence
Here are a few extra tips to help you communicate effectively:
Common Abbreviations and Their Meanings:
ASAP – As soon as possible
Enc – Enclosure (indicated that there is an attachment)
Cc – Carbon copy (indicates other recipients of the letter)
PS – Postscript (any "afterthoughts" added after the signature)
PTO – Please turn over
RSVP – Please reply (from the French "répondez, s’il vous plait")
RE – Regarding (lets the reader know why you are writing)
What if I Don’t Know to Whom I am Writing?
In all cases, it’s always best to address the letter to an actual person, so do your best to gather the name of the hiring manager or office manager or whomever you need to contact (check the company web site or call the office to gather this information). If it’s not possible to secure a name, try any of the following (less personal) salutations:
To Whom it May Concern:
Dear Sir or Madam:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Miss, Ms or Mrs?
Miss – addressing an unmarried woman (rarely used today. Ms is "safer")
Ms – addressing a woman whose marital status you don’t know
Mrs – addressing a married woman
Read: Intro | Social Letters - 1 | Social Letters - 2 | Business Letters - 1 | Business Letters - 2