A letter of intent is used when submitting unsolicited job applications or inquiries to companies you would like to work for. They are a means of introducing yourself to potential employers and convincing them to read your resume.
A good letter of intent will spell out your key skills and accomplishments, and explain why you are a great fit for the company to which you are applying. Note that a letter of intent is not a cover letter.
Admittedly, letters of intent and cover letters are very similar. Both will introduce you as a job candidate, and both require you to outline your skills and relevant experience.
There is a key difference, and it lies in the context in which you are writing the letter.
A cover letter is used to enhance your application for an advertised job listing, and the content is geared towards how your skills can be applied to the specific requirements of the job.
A letter of intent is intended to communicate your general interest in working for or with a company. They can be used as a networking tool to help you open a line of communication with potential employers.
They also tend to be more in-depth than a cover letter, and can include things like your education, your skills and experience, and your future goals.
You should write a letter of intent in the following circumstances:
You should always write your letter of intent in formal business English. Therefore, you should address your letter to a specific person, using the salutation ‘Dear [name]’.
If you do not have a specific name, you will be expected to undertake your own research to find one. Here are some tips for researching your recipient:
If you still cannot find a specific recipient, address your letter to a particular role or department. For example, ‘Dear Recruitment Manager' or ‘Dear Human Resources Department'.
Alternatively, you can use ‘To Whom It May Concern’. However, some people view this salutation as outdated, so it should only be used as a last resort.
The first paragraph of your letter should be used to introduce yourself. Make sure you include your reason for writing; for example, you are interested in working for the company.
I am writing to express my interest in a position within your Marketing team. I am a Marketing Manager with five years’ experience overseeing direct marketing campaigns. I believe my skills will make me a valuable addition to your team.’
You should dedicate the bulk of your letter to what makes you great, and how you can apply your skills and experience for the benefit of the company.
Letters of intent tend to be more in-depth than cover letters. Therefore, if a skill is relevant, mention it. You can even include your hobbies, as long as they help to illustrate useful skills.
For example, you might mention how your love for building computers has helped you acquire skills in problem solving, research and perseverance.
Here is a list of things you could mention:
A vague list of skills will not impress the recipient of your letter. You should always evidence your skills by providing specific examples of your experience and accomplishments.
‘I have excellent communication skills which I developed during my time as an Administrative Intern at [University]. Part of my role involved staffing the office's service desk and I was the first point of contact for all student inquiries. I always greeted people with a smile, and I received recognition from my colleagues for my ability to handle inquiries efficiently and confidently.'
The trickiest part of writing a letter of intent is demonstrating how you can use your skills for the benefit of the company.
With a cover letter, you will usually have a job description to which you can to link your skills. When approaching a company cold, you have no such luxury.
Instead, you should research the company and link your skills to their:
Start your research by visiting the company’s ‘About Us’ page on its website, and also check the following:
This research will allow you to link your skills to the work and successes of the company.
‘In my position as a Paralegal at [commercial law firm], I run regular knowledge-sharing sessions. My colleagues and I discuss interesting cases we have managed and how we can manage similar cases. I recently read your blog on the knowledge-sharing program you are implementing within your commercial litigation team, and I believe my communication and collaboration skills will make me a valuable addition to the team.'
Before you end your letter of intent, you should request the employer contacts you. Make sure you provide your email address and phone number. Sign off formally using your full name.
Your letter of intent is a reflection of you as a working professional. It should, therefore, be written in business English. For example:
With the job market flooded with capable candidates, employers’ attention spans for each individual application are growing shorter. Bearing this in mind:
As well as outlining how your skills make you a great fit for the company, you should state what interested you in the company in the first place.
In addition to the many things you should include in your letter of intent, here are some things you should avoid:
Here's a sample letter of intent for job applications, to help you begin drafting your own. The structure will be similar for whatever industry your letter is geared towards.
Film Company Ltd
Dear Mr. Smith:
My name is Jenny Wren, and I am writing to inquire about the possibility of vacancies in Film Company Ltd’s animation team. I am in my junior year at [College], majoring in computer animation.
I learned about your company through my college program. Your designs were used as a case study in my character design class, which inspired me to focus my study on developing my own character-driven short films.
I am creative and dedicated to storytelling through digital art mediums. This was recognized last year when I came second in my college’s short film and animation competition with my film, ‘Life Online’, the story of a young boy who becomes addicted to internet chat rooms.
I value teamwork and collaboration. I am the founder of my college’s animated short film club. Our activities include brainstorming ideas, drawing storyboards and then working as a team to create short films. We publish our work to our YouTube channel, where we have 65,000 subscribers.
I have established technical skills in specialized animation software programs. I also have impeccable attention to detail, which helps me create flawless animations. I believe these skills and my passion for storytelling through animation would be of value to your company.
I have attached my resume for your consideration and samples of my work can be viewed at [portfolio website]. If you would like to discuss my credentials further, please do not hesitate to contact me on [phone number] or [email address].
I look forward to hearing from you.
This article has shown you how to draft your own letter of intent. To summarize, the key points covered were:
Finally, remember that your letter of intent will be the employer’s first impression of you. Therefore, never treat it as an afterthought; it could be the first step to a new job.
You may be interested in these other articles on WikiJob: