You may have your resume in tip-top shape and know your way around a cover letter frontwards and backward, however, if you haven’t familiarized yourself with the letter of intent (LoI), your application game isn’t quite as strong as it could be.
Having this implement in your toolkit might make the difference between landing you an awesome career opportunity and landing your application in the circular file.
An LoI is a professional letter that helps personalize your resume or job application, details your accomplishments and displays what sets you apart from other applicants. If you’ve never written an LoI, don’t fret: we’ve got you covered on how to write the strongest one possible!
While addressing a specific person is often preferred for a cover letter, when you write a letter of intent, you may not know that information. Never begin your letter with ‘Hey’ or ‘Dear Hiring Manager.’ Instead, keep it simple with ‘To Whom It May Concern’ or ‘Dear *company name* Team,’ depending on the level of formality of the company.
Tell the hiring manager your name and give a brief overview of your background. If you are responding to a specific job listing, acknowledge it in your opening paragraph. Make the connection between how your goals and the goals of the company intersect. While you shouldn’t go into detail about why you’re looking for a new job, acknowledge what your current position is and a general idea of what position you would like to fill in the company.
This is the section where you shine! Show the hiring manager what you have done in the past and what you can bring to the company. Specifics are your friend here because they show what sets you apart from the other applicants.
The key is to pique their interest enough to make them want to call you in for an interview. You want to come off as interested but not overbearing and may note how and when you intend to follow up. Provide any links to online work or profiles as well as your contact information. Acknowledge your resume (which should be attached) and invite them to contact you without being too demanding.
Thank your reader for their time, and sign off with a basic, professional ending such as ‘Sincerely,’ or ‘Best wishes.’
Directly address the person who reached out to offer you the position by last name with a friendly, professional greeting.
Express thanks for being offered the position, and acknowledge any specifics that were mentioned in your offer letter. This may include your position, salary, or start date.
Invite the company to send any additional paperwork or information that will be required to move forward.
Sign off with a basic, professional ending such as ‘Sincerely,’ or ‘Best wishes.’
Take a look at the two examples below that will help you get started with crafting the perfect LoI.
The first sample demonstrates how to write an LoI for a position that is open. The second sample gives a basic template for how to write to a business that you’re cold calling, or for a business that has not expressed that there is a position open.
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Jane Smith, and I am writing to express my interest in joining the history department of X High School. As a passionate educator who has dedicated the last eight years to teaching young people at X Middle School, I believe that I share values of X and X with XHS. Because of these alignments, I believe that joining the XHS team would be an ideal fit.
I graduated with honors from X University with Bachelor of Sciences in Early Childhood Education, and since then, I have invested each year to expanding my knowledge of technological advancements that can be used in the classroom by attending X conferences. As my resume (attached for your convenience) demonstrates, I have received the prestigious X Award for Teaching for the last three years, and have received the X Certification.
I look forward to discussing potential opportunities with you about joining XHS in the future. You can view my comprehensive career profile at careers.com/JaneSmith. If you have any questions or would like to discuss my qualifications, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected].
Dear Ms. X,
Thank you for your invitation to join the Career Services X team. I enjoyed interviewing with yourself and your colleagues last Thursday. I am pleased to accept your offer to join the company and fill the position of Associate Director of Marketing for the starting salary of $85,000 as we discussed.
Please let me know if any further action is required on my part to finalize this wonderful opportunity. I am eager to begin working with you and to help Career Services X grow as a company and continue to meet and surpass sales its sales goals. Thank you again, and look forward to working with you.
You may be wondering what the difference is between an LoI and a standard cover letter or when use an LoI instead of a cover letter.
The answer is fairly straightforward—if you’re applying for a specific open position, you should probably submit a cover letter (unless the company specifically calls for an LoI). If you’re reaching out to a company that does not have a specific position open, an LoI is likely the better option and works well for those who leave a resume at a business without being contacted specifically.
Another situation when LoIs come in handy is at job fairs or any time when you’re submitting a resume to a general pool. Having them on hand can be a great way to stand out at a job fair or professional networking event. The letter helps to personalize your resume and bring out the human side that doesn’t always come through easily in resumes, which is why striking the right balance between personality and professionalism is essential.
This type of letter may also be provided to express intent to accept a position following a job offer. When written for this reason, the letter should be simpler and more concise than one that's focused on gaining employment. In this case, you should express gratitude and ask if any further action is required.