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So you’ve had your eye on a particular company for a while now, and would give just about anything to work there. You’ve become a master of your field, have killer references and wrote a great resume documenting your proven track record of success. The only problem is that your dream company isn’t hiring for a role applicable to you. Enter: the letter of interest.
Not so fast. Many employers today are open to hearing from strong candidates, even if they’re not actively hiring for a position in their wheelhouse. In today’s tight labor market, employers know it’s in their best interest to maintain a pipeline of qualified candidates well before a position opens, so that way when it does, they don’t have to wait months and months for it to be filled. Some companies may even create a position just for you if they’re sufficiently impressed!
But none of this will be possible without a highly compelling letter of interest. In this guide, we’ll share exactly what you need to know in order to write a letter of interest that employers won’t be able to resist.
A letter of interest really isn’t so different from a cover letter, save for the fact that the job you’re interested in doesn’t exist yet. Because of this, letters of interest will contain many of the same elements as a cover letter: an eye-catching opening paragraph, a brief overview of your accomplishments in previous roles, a description of why you’re passionate about the company and a call-to-action to encourage employers to move forward. The main difference will be that you have to convince the company that they have a need for your skill set.
You might be wondering: can a letter of interest really make a difference in your job search? The short answer is yes. Sometimes, for example, a letter of interest can directly lead to the creation of a new job, just for you. For Grammarly writer Karen Hertzberg, writing a letter of interest to a dog boarding facility that included samples of her previous work and a compelling case for how she could use her marketing skills to uplevel their brand did the trick: “Although the kennel didn’t have an opening, or any role related to marketing, they did call me in to chat. Two weeks later, they created a position for me and I was employed doing something I enjoyed in an industry I loved,” she wrote.
However, there’s no guarantee that a letter of interest will immediately lead to a job. But regardless of whether or not it does, it’s a great way to begin building a relationship with your ideal employer. That way, if and when a relevant opportunity does come about, they’ll think of you, knowing that you’re interested and qualified.
So, what should you keep in mind as you create this powerful personal branding tool? Here are a few pieces of advice.
Before you even start drafting your letter of interest, head online to do some research. You want to demonstrate a very thorough understanding of what the company does and what it needs so that you can incorporate that information in your letter of interest and come off as a highly-engaged, well-informed candidate. Here are a few things to look up in particular:
You won’t necessarily need to incorporate each and every one of these items, but researching them all will help you figure out where to slot them in as appropriate.
Letters of interest are, in themselves, self-serving — you’re reaching out because you’re hoping to ultimately get a job offer. But they shouldn’t come across that way. A good letter of interest always takes the employer’s needs into account and helps the person reading the letter see how you can help them solve a problem.
“Hiring managers don’t hire people just to be nice. They hire people to help them run their team better. To immediately grab a hiring manager’s attention, you should show how you understand the problems they’re trying to solve,” says Clifford Chi of Hubspot.
So, how exactly do you identify what these challenges are? You should be able to get clues in the company news and press releases you researched earlier, as well as job descriptions. You can even conduct your own personal audit according to your area of expertise. For example, if you’re hoping for a job as a social media manager, you can look through the company’s social feeds in order to identify what’s working, what needs improvement and what could be done to take their social presence to the next level.
Next, it’s time to share your relevant experience to prove that you’re the real deal. Talk about some of the most impressive accomplishments you’ve achieved at your current and past positions: projects you executed, initiatives you led, skills you developed and above all, the impact you had.
One of the best ways to give context to your accomplishments is to provide metrics. Think to yourself — did an action you took at work help drive traffic, drive revenue, reduce costs, improve efficiency, increase productivity, etc.? If so, quantify it and include it in your letter!
Then, describe how you would use the skills and experience you’ve gained to help create a similar impact at the company you’re interested in. Share a few of the ideas you have for the company without giving too much away — you want the reader to be intrigued and want to learn more!
One of the biggest differentiators between a good candidate and a great candidate is passion. If you can articulate why you’re so interested in working for a company and how excited you are to contribute, you’re sure to land yourself in the company’s good graces. A few tips for demonstrating passion:
While they’re far from unheard of, letters of interests aren’t necessarily common — most candidates simply prefer to wait to apply to an open position that matches their qualifications. Because of this, recruiters may not know what to do when they receive a letter of interest, so you need to be extra clear in your call-to-action at the end of the letter. Consider requesting:
After you’ve written draft one of your letter of interest, give it a final scan to make sure that it meets the following formatting guidelines:
Not sure where to start, or just need some inspiration? Check out this template for a great letter of interest:
Dear [Recruiter/Hiring Manager’s Name],
INTRO PARAGRAPH: Grab the reader’s attention right away with a unique opening line connected to why you’re passionate about the company and/or how you can help them overcome their challenges and reach their goals. Acknowledge that you know they aren’t currently hiring for a relevant position, but that you wanted to express interest regardless and share more details on your background.
BODY PARAGRAPH(S): Dive into your most noteworthy accomplishments and prior experience. Discuss the projects you executed, initiatives you led, skills you developed and impact you had, making sure to include relevant metrics. Then, describe some of the ideas you have for the company.
CLOSING PARAGRAPH: Re-emphasize how you could help the company, why you’re passionate about them and why you’d make a great hire.
CALL-TO-ACTION: Prompt the reader to take whichever action you feel is appropriate, link to relevant supplementary materials (i.e. work samples, portfolio, LinkedIn profile) and thank the reader for taking the time to read your letter.
In an ideal world, whoever read your letter would respond right away. But in the real world, that won’t always happen. If you don’t hear back within a couple of weeks, you are welcome to respond. Don’t come across as entitled or irritated — just say something like “Just wanted to check in and see if you had the chance to read my letter.” If that doesn’t spur the company to take action, you can follow up one last time in another couple of weeks to a month.
However, even if they don’t respond, it doesn’t mean your time is wasted — keep your eyes peeled for relevant positions at the company, and if you apply to one, mention that you previously wrote a letter of interest. This will demonstrate a lot of passion and determination — both great qualities to have in a candidate.
There’s no way to guarantee that a letter of interest will have the desired effect, but even in the worst case scenarios, it can only help. Letters of interest allow you to get in front of recruiters, practice your writing skills and stand out from the crowd. If you keep showing that same sort of tenacity in your job search, it will only be a matter of time before you find the perfect job for you.