Let’s say you’re job searching and you have a dream employer in mind. They don’t have any positions listed on their website or elsewhere that match your skills, but you know they employ people like you. Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow let them know, “hey, I’m here, and I’m open to whatever job you think I’d be good for!”? That’s exactly what a letter of intent is meant for.
Read on to learn how to craft this job-seeking document and use it to land a position at a company you love.
What is a letter of intent?
A letter of intent is a professional document that communicates your interest in working for a certain employer. It’s similar to a cover letter, but a cover letter is usually sent in reference to a specific job opening. With a letter of intent, you have a company in mind but don’t necessarily know which job you’re seeking.
A letter of intent conveys your skills. It helps a hiring manager see how you could be an asset to their company and determine where you might be a good fit in the organization.
Why it’s important to send a letter of intent
A letter of intent is a highly useful tool because it lets you throw your hat in the ring for any and all positions that might be a good fit. Maybe the employer has several roles that interest you; you’re essentially handing over your qualifications to the hiring manager and allowing them to decide where your skills would be best utilized.
A letter of intent is a good way to join the running for openings that aren’t publicly posted and even some that don’t exist yet. By putting yourself on the hiring manager’s radar, they’re likely to think of you first if an opening that’s suitable to your skills becomes available.
Finally, a letter of intent is important for conveying that you’re in strong alignment with the company regarding its mission and values. This is a key component managers consider when hiring, so you’ll be a step ahead by using your letter to make this culture fit clear.
When should you send one?
When you have a specific employer in mind
Just as a cover letter should be tailored to a specific position, a letter of intent should be customized for a particular employer. Include details about why you’re interested in working for this company and what you could bring to the table to contribute to their mission.
When there are no job openings posted
Maybe you’re not sure whether a company is hiring, but you know the hiring manager’s name. Or, maybe someone in your network told you to contact a certain individual. A letter of intent is an appropriate way to make contact for the first time when you’re interested in a job, but there isn’t one advertised.
When you‘re following up after a meeting or event
A letter of intent can be used as a follow-up tool after meeting a valuable contact at a networking event or career fair. It shows that you’re ready to take the next step and opens the door to future job-related conversations.
What to include in a letter of intent
A strong opening
Jump right into the purpose of your letter by stating who you are and why you’re reaching out.
Your interest in the company
Why this company? Why now? Share details that will help the hiring manager understand what compelled you to write the letter.
An overview of your skills
You need to give the reader enough information to understand whether you’re a good fit and where that fit might be, so lay it all out on the table. What can you offer to the company?
Share any noteworthy accomplishments from your current job or former positions.
A call to action
Use an enthusiastic closing and invite the hiring manager to contact you to talk further.
What you should omit
Boxing yourself in
Whereas a cover letter is meant to be narrowly focused on a single position, a letter of intent should be broad. Don’t limit your options by focusing too heavily on one type of role.
Letter of intent sample
In addition to communicating your interest and skills, it’s helpful to give the reader some clues as to what department or seniority level would be appropriate (as seen in our letter above). Keep your letter succinct–no longer than a few paragraphs–and don’t forget to proofread it carefully before hitting ‘send.’