The effective use of intent letters

We are all somehow familiar to how the application process works: doing your resume (also known as your CV), your list of interview questions and your cover letter. But there’s something else that you might be missing, and is just as important as the already mentioned documents: the letter of intent.

Let’s start by defining what this letter is about.

A letter of intent, when referred to in a job, is the equivalent of a presentation letter. This letter will explain the reasons for your interest in working for the organisation and identify your most relevant skills, abilities and experiences, explaining exactly how you qualify for the position.  So, this letter explains why you want a job at a particular company and why you would be a great fit for the company.

That said, it should be clarified that it is not the same as a cover letter. They are certainly similar but have different functions. The cover letter is what is used when you apply for a specific job that you have found by traditional means (recruiters, online job searching and so on). That letter will explain why you would fit perfectly for this particular job. A letter of intent is used in situations such as applying for a job in a mostly general term (submitting your resume to a general pool for example). In both letters you are “selling your skills to the buyer” (which would be the employer), only in the letter of intent it is much less specific about a particular job position (in short, it is a general application).

Why write a letter of intent?

Letters of intent are used as a means of introduction to personalize your application and connect the human resources 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 be noted and give the employer details about why you are a strong candidate and should be considered. In addition, employers can request a letter of intent when doing job posting. This letter will be sent or published in addition to your resume and other required application materials.

What should you include in this letter?

Similarly to the cover letter, the qualifications, professional objectives,  previous experience, skills, leadership and other characteristics are illustrated to differentiate you from the rest of the group of applicants. However, you should not repeat what you have on your resume in your letter. Instead, select your strongest ratings and stand out. Your goal is to show your best credentials to the employer to be persuaded to read your resume, not to provide a complete professional history. It will also allow you to show your writing and communication skills.

The structure of the letter

Put your address and contact information at the top of the page. On the left side, write the following information on separate lines: the name of the hiring director, the description of your employment, the company and your address.

The greeting

You should always use a formal and professional greeting. Use the name of the hiring manager.

First paragraph: the introduction

Start by introducing yourself and explaining why you are writing. If you are applying for a specific job, you should express it. If that’s not the case, simply explain that you wish to work for the company. You can give a notion about the type of work you are interested in, but nothing that is too specific.

Second paragraph: your skills

Match your credentials with the job. When an employer requests a letter of intent, they ask you to show why you have the requirements to be selected for an interview. Take the time to carefully review the job description and the requirements listed on it. Your letter of intent should echo and respond to these requirements.

Then, take your skills and experiences that are more related to the job requirements and briefly describe them in your letter. Review these tips to match your qualifications with a job before you begin. Be sure to include the following:

  • Years of (related work) experience
  • Related education and certifications
  • Required and preferred qualifications
  • Required and preferred skills
  • Why are you interested in the job. Research the company. Search the company’s history and recent projects. Remember that, when you write a letter (no matter to whom and the exact motive) it’s because you are writing to show interest.
  • An educated request to schedule a personal interview.

The closer you can match your credentials to the job requirements, the greater your chances of being chosen for a job interview. This letter could act as a call to action for the manager to give you the opportunity.

Third paragraph: concluding

Establish that you will be looking forward from hearing from the employer. Use a formal and professional closing such as “Sincerely”, “Best wishes”, or “Regards”. Don’t worry or overthink it too much; basic professional language will do.

If you don’t feel very confident, you can always use samples of letters of intent to guide yourself and see how other people organised their points and their writing. Below, we will give you some tips to keep in mind:

  • Intent letters shouldn’t be longer than 1 page, otherwise, you risk being ignored by the hiring managers.
  • Use several paragraphs if you want all the important points to stand out and catch the reader’s attention.
  • Proofread. Proofreading can seriously make a difference. Spelling and drafting mistakes won’t do you any favours in causing a good first impression. You can get it checked by a professional if you like.
  • Make sure that you understand the company’s vision. You ought to know it’s goals, ethics and so on if you aspire it to be your new workplace.
  • Include your signature.
  • If you are contacting the company through email, use a clear and precise subject line.