Best Practices for Writing a Letter of Intent in 2023

A letter of intent is a great way to introduce yourself to a hiring manager or educational institution. Here’s how to write a letter of intent that gets results.

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What is a letter of intent?

Breaking the ice with hiring managers can be difficult, but as the saying goes, sometimes it’s about who you know, not what you know. A great letter of intent can be your networking “in” and a wonderful way to make business deal connections and open new doors. While most letters of intent are used for contract purposes in the business world, for job seekers, a letter of intent can be used as a direct statement of interest in working for a company; making it easier to catch the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter.

A letter of intent is typically helpful if the company has more than one position available and they are unsure about what candidate they want for each role or mainly do a lot of internal hiring. Just be sure to show due diligence by researching the company in question – not all companies will accept a letter of intent, so make sure that you find out whether yours will be well-received before you send it. This article will clearly explain the parts that go into a great letter of intent, provide an example of how to craft one, and give you information on other types of letters that can help you with your job search.

Letter of intent vs. cover letter

There are many similarities between a letter of intent and a cover letter. At first glance, cover letters and letters of intent may look the same, and they are both intended to make a great first impression. But there are several fundamental differences in their content and purpose. Listed below are the key differences between a cover letter and a letter of intent that can be sent when there is no specific job listing. This can be helpful if you are unsure of which type of letter to send or if you are dealing with an employer that has several roles open and you want to be the front-runner for a particular position.

Letter of intent

A letter of interest should showcase your knowledge of the company you are expressing interest in and state your intent to work with them if the opportunity is presented. Unlike a cover letter, which focuses on the work experience and skills of a job seeker, this type of letter should focus on your career goals. A good letter of intent expresses general interest in working for the company, regardless of which or any specific job postings are open at that time.

Letter of intent:

  • Used as a method of first contact regarding a position at a particular company.
  • Customized for the company or educational program rather than a specific role.
  • Presenting relevant skills or experiences that show your overall value.
  • Can be used as a follow-up letter after a job or networking event.
  • Designed to seek a broader range of outcomes.
  • A focus on company culture.

Cover Letter

A cover letter should be written to secure a particular job title. As such, these are more direct documents that should fill in any gaps that may be present in a resume and directly state which job title is being applied for. You could write a letter of intent for a specific job opening, but it is far more effective to submit a resume and cover letter with a strong call to action in this situation.

Cover Letter:

  • Submitted in tandem with your resume during a formal application process.
  • Intended to shed light on your years of experience to gain a specific job.
  • Discuss skills and experiences that fit with the specific job’s requirements.
  • Related more to open job postings and their required materials.
  • Has a singular goal.
  • Targeted for a specific job, highlighting why you’re the best fit for that job.

Letter of intent sample

Job seekers looking to really wow a recruiter and land a job at the specific company they have their eye on sometimes need more than an effective resume and cover letter. The content of your LOI (letter of intent) is crucial, and if you want to make a great first impression it’s a good idea to look at samples from your industry before you write your own. You may also receive a letter of intent from an academic institution, bank, or business before they finalize their decision to do business with you. Occasionally, when a potential employer requests you send a letter of intent, it may be because they are interested in hiring you, but have several roles open and are unsure of where they wish to place you.

How to write a letter of intent

If you intend to write a letter of intent as a result of a networking opportunity or because you’ve been encouraged to submit your resume to support a particular job search but can’t find the open role you’re looking for, then a letter of intent could be your way in.

When crafting your letter, you should follow this basic structure:

1. A header and a hook

The letter header should include your name and contact information. If possible, address the hiring manager by name. If you are genuinely unable to find the name of the hiring manager during your research, or you are addressing a team of people, you can opt for a general but professional salutation such as “Dear HR” or “Dear hiring managers.” Make sure to avoid the generic ‘To whom it may concern’.

A letter of intent should be more focused on the company than a cover letter would be. Your opener should therefore begin with a statement that explains your interest in a company. For example, you might talk about something that was recently in the news about that company to show you have an interest in their performance.

2. An overview of your best skills and achievements

Like writing a cover letter, you should provide an overview of your skills and qualifications. If possible, you should discuss this in terms of the interest you have shown in the company. Discuss specifically what you can do for them and give examples of what makes you perfect for the job. It’s also important to indicate that you would be a good fit for the culture of the company as well, including key deals in regard to things that matter to the company like teamwork or being environmentally conscious.

3. An offer to help the manager

The end paragraph of your letter of intent should bring all of these elements together. Make a specific offer of help to the hiring manager with a reference to the skills and qualifications you have already mentioned. The idea is to show you have a genuine interest in that company and position and that you are acting in good faith.

4. A call to action

Once you have done this, create a call to action to encourage further discussion, and more opportunities to trade ideas on how you and the company can proceed. This is the key portion of your letter where you indicate why you’d be a good fit for this specific position at this particular company, so make sure your request for further discussion is customized to the needs of the hiring manager.

5. Summation and closing

The end of your letter should use a simple professional closing such as “Yours sincerely” or “Regards”. You can include contact information such as your phone number if you wish, but also use this space to indicate that you’ve included your resume and any other supporting materials.

Letter of intent templates

Taking care to personalize your letter of intent will give your job application or your chance for a networking opportunity an increased chance of standing out from the crowd. While it’s good to base your letter of interest on a sample letter or template, you should do your best to personalize it as this will make your interest in the company more genuine instead of just another solicitation. Analyze the company’s website, or the job description attached to a job posting you want, and take note of the goals, skills, and qualifications the employer is seeking. Mirror the language of the website or posting where possible, and emphasize skills and experiences you have that match what the company values. If you need more guidance with your sample letter of intent ResumeHelp has a wealth of examples and templates that you can update for each situation which will save you lots of time.

More cover letter tips and resources

If you want guidance for writing other business letters ResumeHelp has many resources which could help you to create the perfect letter of intent and you help establish new network connections. We also have plenty of other resources and guides for creating business letters of all types:

FAQ: Letter of intent

Q: How is a letter of intent different from a cover letter?

There are many similarities between a letter of intent and a cover letter, but there is one key difference. A letter of intent can be sent when there is no specific job listing. This means it can be used in a unique way, as part of a proactive job search. By sending a letter of interest or intent along with a resume to a company you wish to work with, you stand a chance of being contacted when a space does open up. However, if you see a role advertised and you haven’t heard from anyone, don’t be afraid to follow up and apply.

Q: When should I send a letter of intent?

You should send a letter of intent when you see a job opening you are interested in or when you are interested in working for a specific company. You can send more than one LOI, too. As these are non-binding statements, not a binding agreement within a contract, there is no need for exclusivity, especially considering that there is no guarantee that a job title will become available at your chosen company.

Q: How long should my letter of intent be?

Your letter of intent should be concise, like your resume. The ideal length is one page or less. Just remember to maintain a typical business letter format to ensure it remains professional. Make sure to mention network connections that encouraged you to reach out to the company directly in your introductory paragraph as most businesses don’t generally look at cold-calling applicants.

Q: How serious is a letter of intent?

The seriousness of an LOI varies as some available jobs are not publicly advertised on job sites, and many are filled as a result of professional and personal networks but due to liabilities may be posted on job sites despite only being for internal applications. A letter of intent could help you gain access to those opportunities that may be unavailable due to exclusivity.

Q: What does a letter of intent for school mean?

The letter of intent for a school is a brief, focused essay submitted as part of your admission package to a university that may act as the definitive agreement in your attendance. The LOI emphasizes what you can bring to the program and establishes intent to enroll by informing Admissions of your educational and career background. More often than not, they require you to tailor your letter of intent according to their guidelines and if you are in an athletic field or are applying through a scholarship or grant program you may also need to include a term sheet.

Q: How do I write a letter of intent?

Similar to the cover letter, to grab the attention of a recruiter or admissions professional you need a strong introduction that quickly provides a brief summary of your background and your reason for writing. Body paragraphs should Include your qualifications and achievements as it relates to your job, as well as the reason for your interest in this institution or company. Finally, end with a commanding call to action that will make the recipient want to respond and know more about you. Remember to close out your letter by politely expressing your interest in the position and the company with the specific actions you want the reader to take, i.e confirming your request for an interview or responding with an acknowledgment of your admission.

Q: What are some examples of a letter of intent?

Letters of intent in academia and for some job positions can be expressed to potential employers as a format letter, a cold call email, or a networking letter. If you are in media, law, real estate, or finance specific examples of an LOI (letter of intent) or memorandum of understanding can act as legal documents that confirm you’ve been accepted for a role or position and must review and accept the stipulations expressed by the company, signifying the closure of your proposed transaction.


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