No matter your industry, understanding how to write a basic business letter is a must for all businesspeople. Although basic business correspondence is very common, there are several types of business letters in technical writing. Business letters differ by audience, purpose, author and specific format.
Resume Cover Letter
Businesspeople use the resume cover letter in the job application process in order to "sell" themselves to the organization they are trying to join. The cover letter is the first impression you as a job seeker will make on your potential employer, and employers often use the cover letter as a litmus test to determine whether the resume is worth reading. According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, you should write your resume cover letter in a narrative voice, highlighting the experiences and skills that have prepared you for the job you are seeking. The writing center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests writing in a tone that lies between extremely conversational and extremely formal. Use action verbs frequently when writing your cover letter, and use the help wanted ad or job description to find key words, such as "detail oriented," that should be included in your letter.
Persuasive Business Letter
If you are writing a persuasive business letter, you are trying to convince the recipient to take actions you recommend. You may write this type of business letter to an employee, supervisor, client or colleague, or to other parties within or outside of your organization. A persuasive business letter must state the purpose (to convince) within the first few sentences, according to EnglishClub. Business writing is concise because businesspeople are stereotypically busy. It is very important for your letter to get to the point quickly and not waste time with unnecessary introductions, socializing, or details. State the course of action that you would like your reader to take within the first few lines and spend the body of the letter outlining the benefits of the action or explaining why it should be taken. Make sure to clearly include any necessary details. EnglishClub also suggests that you also clearly state if you require a response.
When you write a persuasive business letter, analyze your audience. Who you are writing to will determine what information you include. For example, you would only add an introduction if the person you are writing to does not know you. In addition, a manager would find different benefits in the course of action than a client.
Letters of Apology
Although they are one of the most common types of business letters, letters of apology are also one of the hardest to write. You must write to "save face," allowing your business to retain integrity while offering a sincere apology for the indiscretion. Like other business communications, get straight to the point. Write the intent of the letter--to apologize--and what you are apologizing for in the first paragraph. According to ABusinessResource, your next paragraph should ask the wronged party to forgive the mistake and explain how the error was made, as well as anything that is being done to make sure it won't happen again. Finally, you should re-state your apology and offer to make up for the mistake with a discount, free merchandise or in another appropriate way. In a letter of apology, never appear to defensive, and always provide the contact information of someone who can best address the issue.
Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.