Letter Writing: Action Verb List for Resume

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You should maintain tight control over how frequently you use your references for two reasons. First, out of courtesy, you do not want your references to be flooded with telephone calls. Second, you might want to contact your references prior to each time they are used to tell them about the position and what the employer is looking for in an applicant.

If you do not wish your references to be contacted without your prior approval, be sure to indicate this clearly on any employment applications where references are required.

The following verbs can be used to describe your previous experience in an active fashion. Use the present tense of the verb for current employment and the past tense for previous employment. This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to use other action verbs which may better describe your experience.

Letter Writing

There are numerous occasions for you to use writing skills in your job hunting activities. In many cases, writing may be the only vehicle through which a potential employer knows you. It is an important skill to be able to express yourself well whenever your job hunt requires it. Although most people looking for employment will claim to have excellent writing abilities, far fewer of them actually demonstrate the skill in their job hunt

Every letter provides an opportunity to make a good impression on the recipient As an applicant seeking employment, you will find yourself writing different types of letters for different occasions. Each should follow proper business form and format. However, each letter should be adapted to the occasion and the specific person to whom you are writing.

The letter should be addressed to a specific person in the organization you are contacting and individually signed by you. Following are explanations of the most commonly used types of letters, along with some examples.

Inquiry Letters

An inquiry letter is a simple request for information. You may request an annual report or descriptive brochure of the company. You may request the names of persons to whom you could direct further inquiries of a more specific nature. For example, you may write to the Advertising Club of San Francisco and request the names of two or three members who might be willing to give you information regarding employment prospects in "point-of-sales" advertising.

Cover Letters

A cover letter is one that accompanies your resume or application for a specific position. It should arouse interest in you as a candidate and emphasize the aspects of your abilities and past experience which are most impressive and relevant to the job. Separate cover letters should be prepared for each potential employer and your resume tailored to the specific type of opportunity that you are seeking. Below is a description of how to structure a cover letter.

Opening-Start your letter in a way that will get the reader's attention and interest. State your purpose for writing.

Body-Appeal to the person's self-interest. State why the employer should be interested in you. Ask yourself: "What can I do for this organization?" Explain the relevant details of your qualifications. Back up your claims with specific examples.

Closing-Indicate your hope for a personal meeting and tell the person how you intend to follow up on the letter.

Letter in Place of Resume

Some experts believe that a well written letter which includes the high points of your qualifications for a specific opening can effectively take the place of a resume altogether. Such a letter should be used if you feel you will better stand out from the bulk of resumes that are being submitted for the position. This "narrative resume" would touch on the key categories found in most resumes, yet be specifically tailored for each job lead. This type of letter should be sent directly to the person responsible for hiring for the position you seek.

Follow-up Letters

A follow-up letter is one that you might send after a thank-you letter if there has been a delay in hearing from an employer. It should be polite and positive, restating your interest in the position and asking for a report on the status of the selection process. A similar type of letter is one that seeks to clarify a specific aspect of your interaction with the employer.

In such circumstances, however, a telephone call might be even better. It is evidence of the importance you place on the information you are seeking and allows for a more immediate and personalized response to your request.

Reference Letters

Reference letters are less commonly used today in job hunting with the exception of certain fields such as education, nursing, and librarianship. If you have a letter from a previous employer, it would probably be an item to bring with you to an interview and use if the need arises. The best reference letters are ones that are specific about the things you accomplished in a previous job. Good reference letters avoid broad, general statements that are unsubstantiated and could easily apply to most applicants. You can help the person you ask to write a reference letter by providing a summary description of items that might be commented on. For example, for a professor you might list the projects or papers done and some of the comments noted by the professor about each.


Many employers will require you to fill out an employment application at some point in the hiring process. A number of the items will be a duplication of information provided on your resume, but you will often be required to fill out the application just the same. If possible, take the application with you and type in the necessary information at home.
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