What is a Letter of Intent for a Job?

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A letter of intent, when referenced in a job posting, is the equivalent of a cover letter. A letter of intent for a job explains the reasons for your interest in the organization and identifies your most relevant skills, abilities and experiences, spelling out exactly how you qualify for the position.

A letter of intent may be written to apply for a specific job opening or may be written as an inquiry letter to show your interest in employment to a company that hasn't listed available positions.

Why Write a Letter of Intent?

Letters of intent are used as a means of introduction to personalize your application and connect the hiring manager to your resume. They make it easy for the recruiter or employer to see exactly what your qualifications are and what you can bring to the table that other applicants cannot. 

A well-written letter will help your application get noticed and provide the employer with details on why you're a strong candidate and should be considered.

In addition, employers may request a letter of intent when they post a job. This letter is to be sent or posted in addition to your resume and other required application materials.

Here are some examples of job listings that require a letter with the application:

  • Please forward your resume and letter of intent.
  • Submit letter of intent, current resume, and application.
  • Please submit a letter explaining how you meet the qualifications of this position.

    What to Include in a Letter of Intent

    A letter of intent also allows you to show your writing and communication skills, and your ability to sell yourself to the hiring manager. Similar to a cover letter, qualifications, career goals, objectives, previous experience, skills, leadership, and other characteristics are illustrated to set you apart from the rest of the applicant pool.

    Don't simply rehash what you have in your resume in your letter, though. Instead, pick out your strongest qualifications and highlight them. Your goal is to showcase your best credentials to the employer so that they will be persuaded to read your resume, not to provide a full career history.

    Match Your Credentials to the Job

    When an employer asks for a letter of intent, they are asking you to show them why you have the qualifications to be selected for an interview. Take the time to carefully review the job description and the requirements listed in it – your letter of intent should echo and respond to these requirements.

    Then take your skills and experiences that are most related to the job requirements and outline them – briefly - in your letter. Review these tips for matching your qualifications to a job before you start. Be sure to include the following in your letter:

    • Related Work Experience
    • Related Education and Certifications
    • Required and Preferred Qualifications
    • Required and Preferred Skills
    • Why you are interested in the job
    • A polite request to set up a personal interview.

    The closer you can match your credentials to the job requirements, the better your chance of getting chosen for a job interview.

    How to Format Your Letter

    A good strategy in formatting your letter of intent is to include a bulleted section, after your introduction, that highlights your qualifications for the job. The bullets will help to make your qualifications “pop” on the page, immediately drawing attention to the skills and expertise you offer. A careful use of boldface can also help to catch the hiring manager’s eye. Here’s an example:

    “Qualifications and skills I bring to the table include:

    • 10 years’ progressive experience in retail sales management, consistently triggering year-over-year sales increases by more than 15% for each year of tenure.
    • Proven leadership and teambuilding talents, successfully training and guiding teams of 20+ sales representatives to new levels of sales achievement.
    • Keen analytical and strategic planning skills leveraged to control inventory / costs, reduce churn, and maximize sales productivity.”

      How to Submit Your Letter

      The job posting should specify how your job application materials are to be submitted. Carefully follow the directions to ensure your application is given careful consideration.

      Examples:

      • Susan wrote a letter of intent to send with her resume when she applied for a teaching job.
      • ABC company requires a letter of intent, resume, and three professional references from all candidates for employment.
      • Our hiring manager will review your letter of intent and resume and contact you if we are interested in interviewing you.

      Related: Top 10 Cover Letter Writing Tips | What to Include in a Cover Letter | Sample Cover Letters