How To Write An Appeal Letter (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 17, 2020
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Being blamed for something that’s not your fault at work can have long-term negative repercussions for your career. Many people mistakenly think they don’t have any options for recourse when an unreasonable decision has been made about them, but they do.

It’s called writing an appeal letter.

What Is an Appeal Letter?

An appeal letter is a written action that someone takes when they feel a situation involving them should be reconsidered. Decisions are changeable until they are finalized on paper. There’s a variety of situations that could warrant appealing, such as:

  • Being fired, laid-off or having your pay cut under unjust circumstances

  • Refused a raise you clearly deserve

  • Rejected admittance decision to a university

Sending a well-crafted appeal letter or email is a strategy to reach an intended outcome when you have been wronged in a professional situation.

Steps for Writing an Appeal Letter

When a professional decision hasn’t gone in your favor, you already feel down, but standing up for yourself through an appeal has the potential to turn things around.

If you’re considering writing an appeal letter to a university or employer, go through the following steps.

  1. Review The Company Or University Appeal Policy. Many universities and companies have appeal policies in place, and finding the details of yours can make the process go a lot easier. It can include relevant information, such as the timeline you need to work within when filing an appeal on a decision.

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  2. Find The Mailing Address Or Email Of The Proper Recipient. Once you understand all the details of your organization’s appeal process, the next step is to figure out where you’ll be sending the letter.

    Both an email or a formal postage letter can be appropriate for an appeal. Consulting with an HR professional or an admissions office can tell you which delivery method would be preferred and who to send it to exactly.

  3. Describe The Situation. An appeal letter is your opportunity as an employee or applicant to tell your side of the story. Whether that means explaining why the situation was unfair or why your application should be reconsidered with the decision overturned. This includes recognition for any mistakes that were made on your part. Grounds for an appeal doesn’t mean that you’re entirely innocent in the situation.

    When you’re writing about the details of the situations within an appeal letter, come from an unemotional and pragmatic place that demonstrates your strong character. Even though you feel slighted by the decision that was made, displaying an attitude of anger or irrationality when describing what happened won’t help your case in the slightest.

  4. State Why It Was Unfair. It can be challenging to maintain an even and objective tone when writing about the exact reasons as to why the situation was unfair. Still, it’s necessary to communicate your message.

    Before you begin work on your appeal letter, have a list in mind of specific reasons why the decision made was unfair to maintain clarity in your explanation.

  5. Explain What You Would Like To Happen. Now that you’ve pitched the situation that occurred and why it was unjust to you, the final piece of an appeal is briefly stating what you want to happen next.

    Make sure that the tone of this section remains respectful and avoids sounding demanding. However, be direct in what outcome you want and by when.

  6. Follow-up. You mailed out your professional appeal letter a little over a week ago and still haven’t heard back from your supervisor or University admissions team. It’s appropriate to send out a casual and friendly follow-up by email or phone call when your letter has gone unanswered.

Appeal Letter Format

An appeal letter is a professional and formal document that requests an action, and as such, it should be written in a business letter format. This format differs slightly between postage and email in how the letter will be addressed.

Elements A Business Letter Should Include:

  • The date

  • Sender name, job title, and contact information

  • Recipient name, job title, and contact information

  • Salutations

  • Concise and focused paragraphs

  • Closing and signature

Tips for Writing an Appeal Letter

  1. Collect Hard Evidence. Ambiguous explanations for why you’re a great employee or student probably won’t change anyone’s professional decisions. Accumulating hard evidence, such as an academic or sales record, will make your argument for appeal much stronger.

    For example, if you recently asked your supervisor for a well-deserved raise and it was rejected, providing a detailed account of the dollar amount in business you’ve brought to the company can solidify the effects of your appeal.

  2. Be Prepared For Follow-Up Questions. Don’t expect that your requests will be granted from the moment you hit send on the appeal email. The process will likely take some back and forth before an agreement is reached.

    Some question you could be asked include:

    • What do you think caused the problems you’ve experienced?

    • Do you think any of your skills need improvement before receiving an admissions offer?

    • What other help have you sought in regards to this issue?

  3. Grab The Reader’s Attention. Even though an appeal letter is an official written document, you should still try to keep the contents interesting to the reader. People feel more compelled to do things when they’re invested. Grabbing and maintaining the reader’s attention is an excellent way to get them invested in your troubling situation.

  4. Be Direct. Although writing an appeal letter is intimidating, you should still maintain a direct voice. Dancing around the request or situation will only confuse the reader and bring little improvement to the problem you’re hoping to remedy.

  5. Have An Objective Party Read It Over. As cool, calm, and collected as you try to be in an appeal letter, it’s still possible that a hint of animosity or overwhelming emotion sneaks through. One way to eliminate any tone problems and grammar issues from your appeal letter is to have an objective party read it over.

    A trusted colleague whose uninvolved or a good friend with a reliable opinion can help you make your appeal letter even better by proofreading under an unbiased view.

Appeal Letter Examples

Example #1 – Postage Appeal Letter

Recipient Address:
Mr. James Smith
43 Oakwood St.
Los Angeles, CA, 33840

Return Address:
Tim Jones
12 Bennecourt Rd.
Los Angeles, CA, 33899

Mr. James Smith
UCLA Admissions
Head Board Member

November 29, 2020

Dear Mr. Smith,

My name is Tim Jones. At the beginning of the year, I applied for the undergraduate program at the University of California, Los Angeles for the Fall semester of 2021. I recently received notice that my application for admission was rejected.

It was shocking and heartbreaking to receive the news that I hadn’t been admitted to the UCLA class of 2025. I have worked tirelessly since before my freshman year of high school in the hopes of becoming part of this wonderful educational community. In that time, I maintained a grade point average of 4.0, scored in the top 2% of the country on the SAT’s and received the Los Angeles Community Award for my volunteer work with homeless people in California. I’ve attached a record of these achievements below.

I am an ambitious and hardworking student who does whatever it takes to meet my goals, and attending UCLA has been my biggest goal for the past decade.

While I understand that the 2021 admission year has seen record amounts of competitive applicants, I hope this letter will encourage you to reconsider my admittance to the undergraduate general studies program.

I appreciate your consideration and would be happy to provide any additional materials or information. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at (464)-339-2846 or TimJones@gmail.com. I’d be happy to hear any suggestions you have regarding this matter as well.

Thank you again.

Respectfully,

Tim Jones (Signature)

Tim Jones (Printed)

Example #2 – Email Appeal Letter

Subject Line: Raise Denial Appeal Letter

November 29, 2020

Angela Benjamin
Kaiser Paper Company
Regional Sales Manager
(574)-833-8579
AngelaBenjamin@KaiserPaper.com

Dear Mrs.Benjamin,

How are you? I hope all is going well. I’m reaching out to you today as a formal appeal of your denial to award me with a pay raise in my position as a sales associate.

In our meeting, you stated that raises within the Kaiser company are reviewed on a scheduled basis following performance reviews. I went over the contract that I signed when hired as a sales associate in 2019, and there was no mention of any scheduled performance reviews or timed salary increases. I’ve been working as a sales associate for Kaiser Paper Company for almost two years now and have not had a formal performance review.

In my time working for Kaiser, I’ve sold upwards of half a million dollars in product units and allocated 57 new customers. I’ve included records of these numbers below for your consideration.

With this information, I ask that you reconsider your decision to reject my pay raise request within the next two weeks.

Thank you for taking the time. I’d be happy to set up a meeting and discuss the further terms if needed.

Sincerely,

June Jennings

Kaiser Paper Company
Sales Associate
(474)-338-5839
JuneJennings@KaiserPaper.com

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Chris Kolmar

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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