How to Write the Perfect Request Letter

Larry Barkdull
Award-Winning, Nationally Recognized Writer

This article will give you basic guidelines for writing various types of Request Letters. Typically, you would write a Request Letter when you wanted to ask for one of the following:

Request for an Interview

(This is the most common type of Request Letter)

  • Use a formal letter style such as block or semi-block format. These styles begin with the date, followed by the name and address of the person to whom you are writing, a reference line, the salutation, the body, and the complimentary close. See the Internet for format details. Compose and print your letter on a computer, using bright white inkjet paper.
  • Introduce yourself. Explain that you are writing to arrange an interview so that you could have the opportunity to discuss positions that may become available in a specific department of the company. If someone referred you, be sure to include his/her name.
  • Briefly describe your background and why you are interested in the employer's industry, career field, or organization.
  • Indicate that you will follow up with a phone call to see if it will be possible to schedule an interview at a convenient time so that you may bring your résumé and discuss your qualifications.
  • Close the letter professionally. For example: "Sincerely," followed by your name. Your letter should have clear contact information, including your complete address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Do not enclose a résumé—you are just asking for an interview.
  • If someone referred you, ask him/her beforehand about the best approach for asking for the interview.

Request a Raise or Promotion

(You may be due for a step up the ladder)

  • Do not waste your employer's time. Immediately state the reason that you believe you are qualified to receive a promotion or raise.
  • To establish credibility, give examples of your accomplishments, loyalty, years of service, etc. You are providing evidence to build your case.
  • Confidently, but respectfully, make your request.
  • Thank your employer for taking the time to consider your request.

Request a Specific Type of Information

(You may need copies of public records)

  • Get to the point. Tell the reader exactly what type of information you need and politely ask him/her to send it to you. Assure the reader you will pay any customary fees that are involved.
  • Provide a brief explanation as to why you need this information. For example: You are compiling your family history and would like a copy of your great grandmother's marriage license.
  • Thank the reader. Be sure to provide your contact information (complete address, telephone number, and e-mail address).

Request a Third Party to Compose a Letter on Your Behalf

(You may need a letter of recommendation)

  • If necessary, remind the reader how he/she knows you, and briefly review any high points of your relationship. Examples: this person was one of your professors in your M.A. program and gave you an "A" on a research project or he or she was your supervisor at one time and commended you for the quality of your work.
  • Clearly describe the type of letter you are requesting. Be specific.
  • Give the reader any information, details, and/or explanations that will help in writing the letter. Busy professionals will appreciate it if you provide the framework for the letter. If you take as much work as possible out of the request, you are more likely to get it!
  • Tell the reader your projected timeline and say that you will check back at a certain date to see if any more information is needed. Invite the reader to contact you with any questions.
  • Thank your reader for his/her time and consideration of your request.