A letter of request is a document you write to ask another person or people to accept your request or demand. They’re brief, concise and polite — but knowing where to begin is often the difficult part. It’s why many stare at a blank screen for a while, as they’re unaware of how to structure a letter of request and what one should include.
If you’re ready to submit a request in your organization, but you’re facing difficulty asking it via writing, here’s what your letter should include, reasons for writing one and some sample letters of request you can use for inspiration.
Reasons for writing a letter of request
In a business setting, you can write a professional letter of request for pretty much anything — to an extent.
It depends on the impact of the request. If you need a last-minute day off because you have an emergency appointment, you won’t need to submit a letter of request as a simple conversation with your manager would suffice. However, if your request is much more impactful, such as asking for a raise or a promotion, then a letter of request works much better, especially as it’s documented.
If you’re unsure about whether your request warrants writing a letter, here are more reasons for writing a letter request:
- Asking for a raise
- Asking for a promotion
- A change in your contract
- Amending your working conditions or hours
- Requesting a drastic change in shifts
- Submitting a transfer to another team, department or location
- Demanding increased or reduced responsibilities
- Asking for more shifts or overtime
- Requesting changes to maternity or paternity leave
- Asking for a personal letter of recommendation or character reference
- Seeking approval to take action on a critical business decision
- Requesting extra funding for your department
- Asking a company for an interview
- Asking a candidate to submit extra details with their resume, such as a cover letter
The list can go on. It also depends on the context. For example, sales teams might submit a letter of request asking for feedback on products. Buyers could submit a letter of request for product discounts from their suppliers. Leadership teams may submit a letter of request for investment capital and business loans. Your letter of request depends on your unique situation.
How to structure your letter of request (and tips for writing one)
Your letter of request must start with your and the recipient’s contact details, along with the date. Your name should be at the top of the page, followed by the date and then the person to whom you’re sending the letter. Each piece of information also needs a dedicated line, which means the structure should be:
- City, state and postcode
- Contact number if required
- Email address if required
Before diving into the request, quickly state your purpose in a few weeks. For example, it could be: “Re: Request for payrise.” The reader will instantly know what the letter is about with this quick summary.
Make the greeting professional yet friendly. If you know the person well, you can use their first name as it’ll feel personal. If not, then Dear Sir/Madam will work.
Summarise the request
The first part of the letter should summarise your purpose. If we use the example above, make this section more in-depth than the previous but not overly detailed. Expand by saying a payrise is vital to you and why — while being persuasive, so the reader doesn’t put the letter down.
Explain the request
Here’s where you can offer more detail. Sticking with the same example, requesting a payrise is only half of the battle. The rest of the letter needs to essentially convince the reader why you deserve one and why they should accept your request.
Here, you can be more convincing, highlighting the excellent work you’ve done and reminding the reader of this along the way. Make sure it’s simple and in plain English to avoid any confusion. If it’s complex, split your sections to avoid any misunderstanding. You should also let the reader know how they should respond to this request.
End the letter by thanking the reader for taking the time to consider our request. It’s also worthwhile adding a simple call to action, so the reader knows what the next step is, such as contacting you. Sign it off in a professional, polite and friendly fashion with enough whitespace to sign the document.
Tips on writing a letter of request
- Be concise: Don’t dive right in with the heavy details. The brief summary sections are essential as a reader is likely to continue reading if it’s to the point.
- Be friendly and polite: A request doesn’t mean you have to be hostile, regardless of what you’re asking for. Be courteous and friendly, so it works in your favor.
- Make it easy to respond: Include all of the relevant contact information, so the reader knows how to get in touch.
- Focus on the reader: Although it’s your request, focus on the recipient and how your request benefits everyone, not just you.
Sample letter of request
Now you know what to include in your letter of request, let’s combine those elements into a sample letter of request you can use for inspiration and tailor it to your personal request.
[Sender name]: Dwight Schrute
[Sender address]: Rt. 6, Honesdale, PA, 18431
[Recipient name]: Mr. M Scott
[Company name]: Dunder Mifflin
[Company address]: 1275 Slough Avenue, Scranton Business Park
Scranton, PA, 18505-7427
[Purpose]: Re: Request for pay increase
[Greeting]: Dear Michael Scott,
[Summarise the request]: I greatly enjoy my position here at Dunder Mifflin as Salesman and Assistant Regional Manager. Since I first started 10 years ago, I have become a valuable and irreplaceable member of the team, winning many accolades and maintaining my status as the best Salesman in the Northwestern region. It is why I am requesting a pay increase.
[Explain the request]: As a leading Salesman here, I have won the business many important accounts and helped the business capture significant awards in the paper industry. I hope my success, determination, loyalty and results will have your full support in my request for a pay rise. Some of my contributions to the company which I believe warrant a pay increase include:
- I was named Northeastern Pennsylvania Salesman of the Year
- Retained valuable accounts and kept them away from rivals, such as Staples
- Upsold 10 or 12 clients in the past year
I feel like I have greatly exceeded the expectations for my position and that is why I am respectfully requesting you consider increasing my pay. My current salary is $45,000, and I am requesting a 15% increase to match my contributions to the company.
[Conclusion]: I would love to discuss my request with you in person. Please, let me know what time and day is convenient for you. If we have not set an appointment by 11/18/21, I will follow up once again. Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to speaking with you soon.
You’ll notice in the sample letter of request above that all of the elements are included.
It’s brief and to the point. The request is clear and it also subtly includes references to how the company has benefited thus far, such as upselling clients and staying ahead of the competition. The conclusion is clear, as are the next steps and deadline.
Again, this was a specific example of how someone in sales would submit a letter of request, asking their manager for a pay increase. While the copy itself will change depending on your request, the structure will remain the same.
So, whether you’re a developer requesting an interview, a hiring manager requesting a candidate to submit a cover letter or a software engineer requesting to move from the Winnipeg HQ to the Toronto office, you can tailor the sample letter of request above to meet your needs.
Either way, they all need to be to the point, regardless of whether your request is big or small. The more concise your letter of request (filled with valuable information), the likelier it is the recipient will read it in its entirety and grant your request.
After you complete your letter of request, it’s a good idea to let it simmer for a few days before you revisit it. You might have written it in anger or frustration, so a cooler head might help you be more respectful and calmer in the letter of request.
It’s also a good idea to proofread and edit your letter of request. Even if you’ve known the recipient for yours and are on great terms, it’s a professional letter and small errors don’t provide a good look.
A letter of request can drastically change what work looks like for you. Whether it’s moving to a new location or requesting an interview for the job of your dreams, knowing how to write one and in what scenario will help you in the long run.
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