A letter of intent (LOI) is a preliminary declaration, proposed transaction, or commitment where one party states their intention to do business with another. Such letters outline the main terms of the proposed deal and are commonly used by big companies during large transactions and mergers or at the beginning of a joint venture but they are not definitive agreements and they are non-binding.
While a letter of intent is most likely to be used in the business world, it can also be used for employment purposes. For job seekers, a letter of intent is a non-binding statement of interest in working for a company; such a letter can make it easier to catch the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter.
These letters can also serve the purpose of creating a non-binding agreement of a company’s intent to hire an individual. This is typically helpful if the company has more than one position available and they are unsure about what candidate they want for each role. 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.
If you intend to write a letter of intent for inclusion with your resume to support a particular job search, you should follow this basic structure:
1. A header and salutation
The letter header should include your name and contact information. If possible, you should address the hiring manager by name — using “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Mrs./Ms.” as a salutation is ideal. 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.”
2. A hook to bring the manager in
A letter of intent should be more focused on the company than a cover letter would be. As such, you should open your first paragraph 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.
3. 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.
4. An offer to help the manager
The end of your letter of intent should bring all of these elements together. Make a specific offer of help to the hiring manager, referencing 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. Create a call to action to encourage further discussion, and more opportunities to trade ideas on how you and the company can proceed.
Once you have done this, finish your letter with a professional closing. Use a simple formal closing such as “Yours sincerely” or “Regards,” You can include contact information such as your phone number if you wish to, but this information will be on your resume, too.
While it’s good to base your letter of interest on a sample letter or template, you should do your best to personalize it. This is relatively easy, and it begins with the job listing itself. Whether you work in real estate, medicine or customer service, 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 covets. Mirror the language of the website or posting where possible, and emphasize skills and experiences you have that match what the company values. You should take care to address any key points raised in the job posting. For example, if the employer states they are looking for someone with certain hard skills, make a point of noting that you have these skills.
Taking care to personalize your letter of intent will give your job application an increased chance of standing out from the crowd. If you want guidance for writing other business letters, the ResumeHelp blog has many resources which could help you to create a letter of intent template for yourself; having a generic template which you can update for each situation can save you lots of time.
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.
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, there is no need for exclusivity, especially considering that there is no guarantee that a job title will become available at your chosen company.
Your letter of intent should be concise, like your resume. The ideal length is one page or less. If you can limit your LOI to half a page, that would be for the best. Just remember to maintain a typical business letter format to ensure it remains professional.