Professional correspondence guidelines (with samples)
Whether you are sending a follow-up email, requesting a new interview date, negotiating aspects of an offer package, or declining an offer, communicate effectively in writing to leave a good impression and set the tone for mutual respect. Review these career writing samples to help you craft your next professional communication with confidence.
Start by providing context – tell the person to whom you are writing how you received their contact information. Next, explain why you are interested in speaking with them specifically, and provide some of your own background information. Politely request a brief amount of time to speak with them (20-30 minutes) and thank them for their time and attention.
Sample request for an informational interview
Professor XXX, a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department of MIT, suggested I contact you. I have been meeting with Professor XXX as a means of exploring the field of Speech Systems Technology as a potential career option, and he thought you would be a great resource for gaining insight on the field and focusing my job search efforts.
I realize your time is valuable, so I would be very grateful if you would be willing to speak with me briefly (about 20 minutes) at your convenience. I would very much enjoy a chance to ask you some questions to learn more about your career journey.
I have attached my resume for your review as a way of informing you about my educational background and experience. Thank you in advance for your time and attention.
Additional resource: The Muse – How to ask for an informational interview (and get a “yes”)
If an employer requests an interview at a time that conflicts with your academic responsibilities, remember that it is okay to ask to reschedule.
Sample request to reschedule an interview
Thank you for the invitation to participate in a site visit at your Seattle headquarters. The opportunity to visit, meet staff, and learn about opportunities at XXX company is exciting; however, the dates provided for the site visit conflict with my academic commitments. I have spoken with my professors and together we have identified other dates in March that I would be available to visit XXX company. Would rescheduling be possible?
Please know that I am extremely interested in the ______ position and working at XXX company. I hope another suitable date for a site visit can be arranged. I look forward to hearing from you.
After an interview, be sure to send a thank you to your interviewer(s) within 24 hours. If you had multiple interviewers, we recommend you send an individual note to each person. In your follow-up email, be sure to cite something specific you talked about, reiterate your interest in the company/role, and highlight the strengths and skills you can offer.
Sample follow-up email
Dear (interviewer name),
It was a pleasure speaking with you and (other interviewer name) yesterday regarding job opportunities at XXX company. I am very interested in the work you are doing and am extremely impressed with the advanced applications being used in your company.
As I mentioned during our conversation, my past two summer positions were related to the development and design of software programs for industrial machine learning experiments. With my skills and interest in software design, I believe I could be of value to XXX company.
Thank you for your time. The interview was very informative. Please let me know if you need any more information about my background. I look forward to hearing from you.
When declining a job offer, it is important to stay gracious and politely turn down the offer without burning any bridges. Start by showing your appreciation for the employer’s time and effort, keep it brief, and leave the door open for future communication.
Sample correspondence declining a job offer
I am writing to thank you for the offer to join Northeast Electronics Laboratories as a member of the research and development staff. Unfortunately, I must decline your offer. I have accepted a position with another company.
It was a difficult decision for me because I was both excited and impressed by the work at Northeast Electronics. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to meet with you and the members of the research staff.
Again, thank you for your time.
Additional resource: The Muse – How to gracefully decline a job offer (with example emails)
Express gratitude for the internship or job offer, including position title and department. Indicate how much the position, team, projects or company interests you.
In brief, share any questions about the offer that you would like to discuss with the employer over the phone if possible. For example, you may need more time to make a decision because of upcoming interviews, site visits, or other offers to consider. Indicate your need for more time, and the date by which you would be comfortable making a decision. Consider sharing MIT recruiting guidelines with the employer.
(Note: Although we request that all employers provide students with adequate time to make a decision, they are not always able to meet the exact deadlines requested. However, a compromise that is agreeable to both parties is often possible.)
Thank the employer again for the offer and for their time. Acknowledge that you understand the recruiting process is a very busy time for the employer. Ask if it would be possible to schedule a time to discuss the offer further, and provide several blocks of time during which you could give them a call. Keeping the employer’s time zone in mind, try to offer them options within their standard business hours of 9am to 5pm.
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