Sometimes you have to be a little bold to get what you want. In this case, we’re talking about asking for a job when there isn’t one available. Believe it or not, it’s pretty common in the professional world, but there’s a right and wrong way to go about it. We’ll explain how to write a letter of interest, which can help you land a job even when a company isn’t actively hiring.
What is a letter of interest?
A letter of interest expresses your desire to work for a company when they’re not advertising an open position. If they did have a posted job opening, you’d follow the designated application process and send a cover letter, which is a different document.
A letter of interest and a cover letter both communicate your strengths as a candidate, but with a letter of interest, you’re asking the reader to imagine a spot where you might fit in on their team. It’s up to you to help them see the role you have in mind and convince them how it would benefit them to talk with you further about it.
Why it’s important to send a letter of interest
Some of the most lucrative job opportunities are never publicly posted. The reasons for this may vary–maybe the company plans to promote someone from within, or the hiring manager is slammed with other responsibilities. Whatever the case may be, you’d never find out about these positions without taking an active approach by writing a letter of interest.
A letter of interest puts you on the hiring manager’s radar. Even if they don’t have the right opening for you at the time of your letter, something perfect might come up in a few weeks or months. With your letter in their inbox, they’ll have a qualified candidate at the ready, and you’ll be a step ahead of other applicants.
When should you send one?
When you’re pursuing a specific employer
Letters of interest are a great tool for making inroads at a company you dream of working for. Instead of waiting around for them to post a job that’s a good fit–which could take months or more to happen–a letter of interest allows you to be proactive and find out if you could put your skills to work for them right away.
When you got a tip about an upcoming opening
Maybe someone is retiring in a few months, or a new position is being created, but the job opening hasn’t officially been posted yet. You can get a leg up on other candidates by reaching out directly to the likely hiring manager. If you’re a strong fit, they might fast-track you for hiring (and be glad to have the hard work of finding qualified candidates off their plate!).
When you want to get on the hiring manager’s radar
Maybe you don’t need a job ASAP, but you’d be willing to leave your current one for the right opportunity. Sending a letter of interest is a way to put feelers out in your industry and stay informed about new positions without being in full-on job search mode.
What to include in a letter of interest
Begin by stating who you are and the reason for your letter. If you were referred by someone in the company, don’t be shy about name-dropping them.
An explainer of where you see yourself
Provide details about the type of role you’re looking for and the need you might fill on their team.
What would you bring to the table? State your technical skills, relevant background experience, and any additional credentials that help sell yourself as a candidate.
Optionally, you can include additional materials like your website or LinkedIn profile link where the reader can learn more about you.
An invitation to talk further
Thank them for reading and providing details to get in touch with you.
What you should omit
Too much information. This isn’t the place to go into lengthy detail about your background or other personal information. If the hiring manager is interested in learning more (or if offering you a job is even in the realm of possibility), they’ll get in touch with you.
Letter of interest samples
While some professional opportunities fall into your lap, you have to chase them down most of the time. Writing a compelling letter of interest will help you catch the attention of a hiring manager who might be able to use someone like you on their team.