So you're interested in a company, and you'd like to send a letter of interest. But what exactly is a letter or interest, and when and how should you reach out with one?
A letter of interest, in short, should express, well, your interest in a particular company. But a letter of interest should not be mistaken with a cover letter. While still an explanatory document, there's one key difference: specifics and lack thereof.
"A letter of interest is meant to communicate your key skills, qualifications and experiences to a hiring manager when the company has not posted the specific job you are looking for," according to Indeed. "While a cover letter should communicate your qualities as they are relevant to a specific position, a letter of interest should be more general and focus on the reasons why you’re seeking employment at the company."
In other words, if a company really intrigues you — perhaps because you value the company's mission or are inspired by the founder's story, for examples — but the company does not having a listing for a job opening that pertains to your skillset (or the company isn't hiring at all), you may still want to reach out. After all, just because a company doesn't advertise for needing skills and experiences like yours, doesn't mean that they won't benefit from them.
There's no harm in putting yourself out there. But when and how exactly do you do it?
Again, you should only send a letter of interest, as opposed to a cover letter, when the company in which you're interested isn't actively hiring for a role that utilizes your skillset or experiences.
You may also send a letter of interest to a startup company that doesn't seem to be hiring at all quite yet, but that you're certain will need skills like yours once they get the ball rolling a little more — so you want them to keep you in mind for the future, when they're ready to hire.
Likewise, if you are looking for a more specialized position and are working with recruiters, you might send a letter of interest in case recruiters have a future opening or another position in mind that also fits your qualifications and might be of interest to you.
So what belongs in a letter of interest, and how do you put it all together? A letter of interest should follow a simple format that does three main things:
Your letter of interest should always flow in this way, as it makes the most logical sense. You don't want to explain why you love a company so much before you even tell them who you are and why that should matter to them.
In order to flow in the aforementioned way, your letter of interest should be formatted like this:
Note that your name, contact information and the information about the employer (their name and contact information) should be formatted just like you would format a professional business letter.
No letter of interest is complete without the aforementioned factors.
Always conclude the letter of interest explaining that you would like to meet with the employer to discuss potential career opportunities if that's the end goal, or that you would like to be kept in mind. That's why the call to action is so important. It tells employers exactly what to do with the information you provided, whether that's to reach out if they have any positions in mind or to share their schedule so you can set up an informational interview.
Here are some best practices to follow in order to write a letter of interest that employers will read and actually consider.
Actually do your homework on a company so you can truthfully answer what it is that you love about them. Be sure that you can answer why you really want to work there. Don't just share the cliches or go to their benefits page and explain that you enjoy their offerings. Really dive deep so you have something more impressive to say. Maybe it has to do with awards the company has won or the story behind the company's founding.
Do your best to network and really get to know people who work at the company. This way, instead of cold emailing a company, you can send your letter of interest along to someone at the company who may actually open it and pass it along to ensure that it ends up in the right hands. Use tools like LinkedIn, for example, to find shared connections.
Don't just address your letter of interest to the company, a department or a team. Rather, make the letter personal. You might even decide to include a personal anecdote in the letter that relates you and the reader. If you have common ground — like you both went to the same college or you share a similar career background, for example — you can throw that in there in order to make the letter sound more human.
Basically, let the person to whom you're reaching out know that you're really, genuinely interested in working for them, so you've taken them time to do your research and personalize this letter.
Here are three samples of letters of interest for reference.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.