Career Advice Letter

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by

By E. W.

One of the best places to get information on a career or career advice in a certain field is from people who are actually doing that job. However, unless you know somebody in that field, or know somebody who knows somebody, obtaining first-hand information can be difficult. A simple way to approach the problem is to reach out to somebody with an email or letter asking for information or advice. Cynthia Favre, Associate Director in the Center for Servant Leadership, gives four tips to keep in mind when drafting the letter.

1.     While this isn’t a cover letter, don’t be afraid to tell a little about yourself. Let the people you’re contacting know why you are interested in that particular career path. Cynthia also notes that you should send your résumé along with the letter so that the recipient will have a quick background into what experience you have. Make sure to write that the résumé is enclosed.
2.     Look up the business or company on the internet. Don’t just stop by looking at the company’s own website. Check them out on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Are they in any blogs or articles? Doing your research can go a long way in making a good impression. Cynthia suggests commenting on their posts or re-tweeting/reposting what they say. Then take it a step further and ask questions. The goal here is to show your interest in the company. After all, if you’re not interested in the company, why should they be interested in you?
3.     Before you do start asking a lot of questions, though, make sure they’re good ones. Don’t ask anything you would have known had you looked at their website. It will be the first sign you didn’t do your homework. And make sure your questions are specific. Instead of “How did you get started?” consider, “How did you get past the barriers of xyz to start this company?”
4.     Don’t ask them to call you. Instead, ask if you may schedule a time for a short conversation or ask for a staff person to contact to schedule a short appointment. Remember, the people you’re contacting will likely be working when you want to speak with them so it is important to show them that you understand how busy they and how valuable their time is.
Lastly, Cynthia states that while everybody is usually very busy, they generally do want to help people, especially if you are courteous and seem generally interested.  If you have any questions about these tips, or need more help drafting a letter of your own, go ahead and make an appointment at the CSL for help.


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