Much like a cover letter, a letter of intent is a general overview of your industry-specific skills and experience as well as the reasons you are interested in working with an employer. Learning what to include and how to write a letter of intent ensures you send a well-written document that employers want to read. In this article, we explain what a letter of intent is, when you should use it and what your letter should contain.
What is a letter of intent?
A letter of intent is an introductory letter to the employers you're interested in working for. Typically, you send a letter of intent to hiring managers or recruiters at a company that has not yet posted jobs relevant to your background. You express your interest in working there should they open positions you'd be an excellent candidate for and include what skills and experiences you have that the employer might find valuable in their future search for candidates.
Although similar to a cover letter, a letter of intent provides less detail related to a specific job and instead enables you to submit your resume to an employer even when there are no specific jobs in your field. This provides the employer with an opportunity to see your value and interest in their company and might encourage them to assess whether the company has a need or role you can fill.
When to use a letter of intent
While you might submit a cover letter when applying for a posted position, a letter of intent is best for when you want to demonstrate your interest in working at their company.
A letter of intent is appropriate when:
- You're submitting resumes to employers at a job fair
- You're researching companies and find an employer who you believe best fits your interests and career goals
- You've heard that an employer is looking to hire, even if there are no jobs posted
- The employer has jobs posted for other positions but also employs professionals in your area of expertise or with your skills and experience
- A previous colleague or peer wants to refer you to their organization
How to write a letter of intent for a job
While your letter of intent should be unique to your own set of skills, experiences and qualities, there are five key steps you should complete to write an effective letter:
- Start with a greeting or salutation
- Introduce yourself and why you're writing
- Describe your relevant skills and experience
- Provide a call-to-action
- Close the letter professionally
1. Start with a greeting or salutation
The letter of intent is designed to provide a positive and professional first impression that might lead to hiring opportunities, so the greeting or salutation should be professional and follow formal greeting formats. For example, you can use standard greetings, such as “To Whom It May Concern,” or direct the letter to a specific individual within the company. While you might be able to find HR personnel to address your letter to online, choose a more general greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Hello” if you're unsure who the recipient is.
2. Introduce yourself and why you're writing
Use the first one or two sentences of your letter to formally introduce yourself. This section should include your name, a brief explanation of your current experience level and your reason for writing.
For example, if you are a recent graduate, include information about your degree and areas of study. If you're currently employed and seeking work at another company, include your job title and why you are interested in the company you're writing to. When discussing why you're searching for a new job, focus on positive reasons, such as career advancement or the opportunity to pursue a different role to make a good impression.
3. Describe your relevant skills and experiences
Use the body of your letter to elaborate on your skills and experiences. This is a good opportunity to provide more detail about why would be a valuable addition to the company in one or two paragraphs. Include specific examples of times you achieved a goal or contributed to an organization's success. Quantify your achievements with numbers when possible, and emphasize how your skills and experiences align with the employer's vision and needs.
If you are being referred by someone at the organization, this would be an opportunity to include their name and how you know that individual.
4. Provide a call to action
The call to action is where you provide options for the recipient to take action on your letter, such as reaching out to you to discuss a future opportunity or to sending a reply email to confirm they've seen your message. You can include a call to action in your final paragraph after you thank the employer for taking the time to read your letter and let them know you're interested in talking to them about potential job opportunities. Include your contact information as part of the call to action in this paragraph or after your signature.
5. Close the letter professionally
The closing should be a standard business letter sign off to maintain professionalism. For example, you might simply close with “Sincerely” or “Thank you.” These simple closings go after the content of your letter but before your signature.
Example letter of intent
Below is a letter of intent example using the best practices above. Use this sample as a starting point for your letter of intent:
Dear Hiring Manager,
My name is Jen Woo. I'm a recent college graduate from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. WritersPress has a truly impressive portfolio of work with an honourable mission to write for all people, no matter their background. Please consider my request for employment on your writing team.
During my time at the University of Toronto, I studied different aspects of journalism and copywriting, including AP-style editing, long- and short-form web content, editorial writing and human interest writing. I also took courses on content marketing, including search engine optimization and search engine marketing. I completed all coursework with a 3.85 GPA. During my time as an undergraduate, I also worked as a staff writer for the University of Toronto student newspaper and interned with several local newspapers as a copywriter. During my free time, I earned an income as a freelance writer for several blogs.
As WritersPress focuses heavily on high-quality web content, I believe my skills and experience will make me a valuable part of the team. Should WritersPress be in the market for new copywriters, please consider me for any entry-level writing positions that become available. I am also including my resume, which has more details regarding my skills, experiences and interests.
Thank you for your time,
Tips for writing an effective letter of intent
There are many ways to write a letter of intent, but here are a few best practices to help increase the effectiveness of your letter:
- Use a professional business letter format. If you send a physical copy of the letter, include your name, email and job title at the top of the letter above the date and recipient's contact information.
- Place your contact information at the end. If you are emailing the letter, include your phone number, email address and a link to your professional networking profile, portfolio or website under your signature.
- Highlight your level of experience. If you're seeking career advancement opportunities, include the level at which you want to be hired using exact language, such as “senior-level positions” or “management.”
- Mention a reference who works at the company. It's okay to mention a friend or colleague who also works at the company as a reference, but make sure that individual knows you intend to include their name.
- Include strong verbs and adjectives. When you describe your skills and experiences, use phrases such as “effective communicator” or “experienced writer” to confidently present your abilities.
- Focus on relevant information. Keep your skills and experiences relevant to the employer. Refer back to similar job descriptions for skills the employer might be looking for.
- Keep it brief. Keep your letter of intent short and to the point. Aim for, at most, one full page to help the recipient quickly review your qualifications.
- Proofread. Edit your letter before sending the final copy to ensure it is free of grammatical errors and is as direct and clear as possible. Consider having a colleague review the letter to help you further improve it.