Just because a company isn't soliciting job applications for a position doesn't mean you can't still apply. This is where a letter of interest comes in.
What Is a Letter of Interest?
Also known as a letter of inquiry or a prospecting letter, a letter of interest is just what it sounds like: a form of communication that demonstrates your interest in working for a specific employer. Unlike when writing a cover letter, you are not responding to a specific job posting and aren't submitting an application. Instead, you're demonstrating that you respect the company and believe you have skills that would serve it well.
While it may seem counterintuitive to send a letter of inquiry about a job opening that doesn't even exist, this type of communicative can be highly advantageous to you. For one, you're not competing with everyone else who is responding to a specific job posting online (and if you've ever applied to jobs through a job board, you know that it can sometimes feel like you're sending your application into a black hole). Additionally, you're not applying for a specific position, so it will allow the hiring manager to consider you for any potential job to which your well-suited. Taking this step also puts you on the radar of a prospective employer, so even if there isn't anything available at the time you send the letter, the employer might keep you in mind for the future.
What Is an Expression of Interest for a Job?
Expressing interest simply means that you're demonstrating that you want or may want to work at the company. You may have come across it and see it as a potential fit or have had a lifelong association with it. Companies like to know that they're valued, so expressing interest, in turn, makes them look upon you more favorably—as well as putting you on their radar if you weren't already.
When is a Letter of Interest Commonly Used?
Since you generally write a letter of interest when there's no particular position for which you have the skills posted, it's most commonly used for informational and networking purposes. Think of it as an opportunity to learn more about the company as well as notifying the company of your interest.
When you're writing the letter, consider what your endgame is. Of course you want to land a job—that's the whole pointing of writing it in the first place. But think about other positive outcomes. You might secure an informational interview, which will put you on the company's radar and allow you to learn more about the business and how you might fit into the industry. You could also gain one or several worthwhile business contacts. And in the best-case scenario, you could actually land your dream job. The more of these letters you send, the better your odds are of having a successful outcome.
If there is a job that interests you posted on the company website, you should apply through the proper channel or find a contact who can help shepherd your application to the proper person. Don't send a letter of interest instead of your application.
How Do You Write a Letter of Interest?
So you how, exactly, do you write a letter expressing interest in a business? Here are three important steps you should take:
1. Do your research.
Look into the company, what it does, and its values. You'll want to include plenty of information about why you want to work there and tailor it to the specific business. While you may be sending multiple letters to different businesses, you don't want to send a letter that sounds generic to a prospective employer. As with cover letters for specific job openings, it's important to highlight the reasons why you want to work at this company in particular, not just that you want any job or be in the industry.
While you're doing your research, find a contact person. It's always better if you can address a specific person and send your letter to a non-general email address; it's more likely that someone will actually read it this way. You'll also demonstrate that you took the time to personalize it, which may impress your prospective employer. Even if you don't end up reaching the hiring manager for a position that might interest you, you'll still be making a more direct form of contact, and the recipient might pass it along to the right person.
2. Write a brief but strong letter.
Start by explaining your purpose for writing the letter. Explain what you admire about the company and why you want to work there. Next, describe your qualifications. Even if you're a new or recent college graduate, you still bring skills to the table. Perhaps you completed an internship in the industry and see that it's an ideal environment for you and your talents.
Be sure to include your resume as well. While you don't want to regurgitate your resume in your prospecting letter, you should highlight a selection of accomplishments and go into a little more detail, as you would with a cover letter. Since you're not advocating to fill a specific position here, you can be more general about your various qualifications, rather than specifying how your resume matches up to the position at hand.
3. Specify an action you would like the recipient to take
It's well and good to highlight your skills and experience, but none of that will mean much if you don't suggest the next step. While securing a job interview would be the ideal next step, it's best to avoid jumping right into a request like that, since you don't even know if a position matching your experience and qualifications is available. Instead, try asking if you could discuss your ideas over the phone or come in for an informational interview.
Always include your contact information. Even if you send the letter by email, include your phone number and address, just in case your contact prefers other means of communication.
Letter of Interest Example
Your phone number
Contact person name, job title
Contact person email
I came across a profile of your company in X Magazine, and I was so impressed with your marketing strategies and commitment to client satisfaction. This is particularly evident in [specific project or client].
As a recent graduate of the marketing program at X College, I would be thrilled to work at such a fast-paced, well-respected industry leader. It would be an honor to work with professionals who have accomplished [specific accomplishments] like yourself. My internships at [companies] allowed me to get a taste of the industry, and I think I would bring [specific skills and experience] that would help your company grow [in specific, measurable, ways].
I would love to have the opportunity to discuss your company further at your convenience. Could we schedule an informational interview? You can contact me at [email address] or [phone number].
I look forward to hearing from you.
Your full name
Looking for other letter examples?
A letter of intent (LoI) is similar to a letter of interest. Read about everything you need to know about when to use one and how to write it.
Profession letter formats include business letters, cover letters, and more. We break each type down and give examples to help you write your own.