News flash: your letter of intent is NOT the same with a cover letter. Oftentimes, people mistake a cover letter for a letter of intent, or vice versa, because they share a lot of similarities. Like, when it comes to job applications, they both serve as a pretext and a supporting context to the applicant’s resume. So, where does one draw the line between the two? You may also see Letter Samples.
A cover letter markets the applicant’s skills and qualifications and supports the resume to aid the applicant in landing a particular job and is submitted because a company advertised that it’s open. On the other hand, a letter of intent does the same advertising pitch for the applicant but without really saying the specific job position and is submitted regardless if the company is hiring or not. Cover letters are specific expression of application while letters of intent are general declaration of interest.
Elements of a Good Letter of Intent
Now that we got the differences out of the way, let’s delve in deeper into the characteristics of a letter of intent, which are the following:
- Purpose: The purpose of a letter of intent is to express your interest to be at a company, whether or not an open position is available. It dictates the direction of the content and declares what possible output is desired based from your request.
- Qualifications/Background: Aside from the expression of will, the letter of intent must also somehow sell you, the applicant, through your background. This also serves as your introduction as you get to share personal and professional experiences to the hiring manager.
- Formal Tone: A letter of intent is like any other business letter out there. It should maintain a tone of professionalism with a formal choice of words and phrasing.
- Business Format: A letter of intent has a justified format in all paragraphs. It must also contain a uniform margin on all sides, single-spaced texts, and a consistent indention which is determined on the chosen format style, which can be full-block or semi-block.
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Steps to Make a Great Letter of Intent
- Start with an apt open: Before you actually delve into the details, greet the hiring manager of your letter with an appropriate salutation. Letter of intent do not specify the job position you are applying for, but it should be particular to its receiver. Know the name of the hiring manager of the company you are applying and state their last name with the right title on the salutation.
- Write a formal introduction: In cover letters where you have a job position in mind, coming up with a personalized introduction in your first paragraph is easy. However, a letter of intent doesn’t have that luxury of specificity. In this situation, you have to come up with a general, but not generic, introduction. You can begin by stating your name, your interest in working in the company, and how you got to know about the company.
- Market yourself: This is the part where it gets tricky. Since you do not have a specific job position in mind, you may get confused on what skill to include in your letter. Or, you may have thought about enumerating all your good characteristics but get stuck in a vague loop anyway because you do not know the job specifics. To spare yourself from this frustration, research about the company beforehand.
- End with a ‘call to action’: Like any other business letter, a letter of intent’s last paragraph contains the call to action element. In this case, you are inviting the hiring manager to contact you if they are open for any job application. Do not sound too imposing on your call to action; remember to be formal by saying you look forward in keeping in touch with them. This last part should also contain your contact details.
- Polish your letter: Proofread your letter and make appropriate changes until the draft becomes your final copy. If you are sending it through email, save it as a PDF document and set it as an attachment to the correct email address.
Tips for a Great Letter of Intent
- Be conversational: Although a formal tone is necessary when writing a letter of intent, this does not mean that you have to fully commit to the formality and come out as bland and boring. Make your letter interesting by mixing a bit of a conversational tone. Share your qualities and experiences as if you are telling a story with an adult audience.
- Don’t forget to include your resume: A letter of intent may be sent for the purpose of inquiry, and it is alright to be just that. However, when you are looking for job vacancies, it is essential to take advantage of its similarity to the cover letter and use it as a supporting document for your resume.
Types of Letters of Intent
- Job Application Letter of Intent: The letter of intent that most often get confused with a cover letter, this type is meant to express the interest of an applicant to work at a company without specifying the job. Intent letters under this classification are cold-calls made by job-seekers to the company, and, most oftentimes, an open inquiry to any vacancies.
- Academic Admission Letter of Intent: Schools and universities often require their prospective students to send in a letter of intent. These letters are read by an admission committee to determine the applicant’s capability to thrive in the educational environment and a potential to be an asset to the institution.
- Business Letter of Intent: If the preceding two types endorses a person, letter of intent for businesses endorses an idea, a process, or a product. It is essentially a proposal that outlines a partnership arrangement between a company and an interested investor. Business letters of intent usually lead to a contract or a binding agreement, which cements the business relationship of the involved corporate entities.
Letter of Intent Template Sizes
A letter of intent is printed on papers with sizes 8.5 inches by 11 inches, for the standard letter format, and 8.5 inches by 11 inches, for the standard legal format.
Letter of Intent FAQs
What do I write as my subject when I am sending my letter through email?
Usually, when you are sending an application through email, you write the position you are trying to apply for in the subject line of the email, like “Content Writer Application”, but this cannot happen when you are sending a letter of intent. When sending one, you can instead write “Inquiry for a Job” or “Job Application”.
Are letters of intent for businesses legally binding?
Business letters of intent are legally binding if the two parties in the agreement chose it to be, since most letters of intent lead to contracts anyway. However, this is not advisable as this part of business negotiation is still too premature. To be secure, companies provide a safety clause in their business letters of intent where no one is obligated to pursue the venture in good faith should there be differences that cannot be resolved.
Job opportunities come in rarely, and even more so in an ideal company where everyone wants to work in. For job seekers who want to maximize their opportunities, a letter of intent comes in as a very capable tool. A company may or may not open the position and it may all be some wishful thinking, but, nevertheless, it’s definitely worth a try.