What do you do when there’s a company you’d love to work for but they don’t have any openings available?
You could wait until one is posted and then be one of over 250 candidates that apply. Or you could proactively reach out and pitch yourself.
Pitching yourself may feel outside of your comfort zone, but I’m going to lay it all out here and teach you how to write a letter of interest that will get you noticed.
Table of contents
What Is A Letter Of Interest?
A letter of interest is written by a job seeker when they are interested in working for a company that does not appear to have any job opportunities listed.
Rather than simply sending your resume into their applicant tracking system and hoping the company will search for someone with your qualifications, you can take initiative and email a letter of interest that will entice someone to consider hiring you today.
For example, let’s say you’ve heard great things about a company and really want to work there. After reviewing jobs listed on their website’s career page you don’t see any openings. What do you do?
Instead of waiting for the right job to be posted, why not write a letter of interest? In your letter you would explain why you are interested in the company and why you think they should hire you (or at least call you for a conversation).
By writing a letter of interest, also known as an interest letter or a prospecting letter, you bring attention to your qualifications, hoping that the person you send it to will be interested in learning more about you.
Will a letter of interest work? It is my belief that good managers are always looking for their next great hire. This could be you.
Does this sound bold? Risky? Out of your comfort zone? Then this is exactly why you should try this approach. Waiting around for a job to be posted may result in you missing out on an opportunity.
Since you aren’t responding to a posted job opening, the person receiving your interest letter isn’t overwhelmed by managing hundreds of resumes, inquiries and interviews.
Taking this bold move helps you get noticed. It’s also something most job seekers will never do which gives you an advantage. Taking this initiative shows your spunk and an increased level of interest in working for a company. Both of these are qualities hiring managers appreciate.
A letter of interest can be sent at any time, there does not need to be an opening or posted job opportunity.
It may sound similar to a cover letter and it does follow a similar layout and formula, however, there isn’t a posted job so you don’t know the exact requirements the decision maker is looking for. You’ll have to use your research to identify the skills you believe they would be most interested in. You can also include transferable skills you know are needed.
Here’s what you need to know about writing a letter of interest.
How To Write A Letter Of Interest
There’s no need to wait for a job to be advertised. It’s possible that one of the companies you are interested in needs you right now, but hasn’t posted a job yet.
The key to writing a strong and compelling letter of interest is to show the company how they will benefit from adding you to their team. This means you need to understand what the company needs and to do that you’ll need to conduct research.
If you aren’t willing to do this type of digging, there are also many others who won’t do it either. Even fewer will take the time to write a letter of interest. That’s the benefit of writing one.
This is what you’ll need to do in order to write a letter of interest.
Research The Company
I’m a big advocate of research. The more you know about a company, the more compelling your letter of interest is going to be. That’s why it’s worth your time and effort to learn as much as you can about the company. So here’s what to do.
Go to the company’s website, LinkedIn page and run a general internet search to see what news and information is available about the company. Look for information such as:
- Has the company been in the news recently?
- What are the company’s mission and values
- Who are their top competitors?
- Are there any reviews from employees about working for this company?
- What are the challenges their industry faces right now?
- What’s the company culture like?
- Who makes the hiring decisions for the area you are interested in?
Read Press Releases
What is happening at the company? Are they expanding, shrinking, or merging? Have they just released a new product or service? Are they letting go of office space? As you learn about what’s happening in the company, think about how your previous experience in any of those areas can benefit the company.
Monitor Their Social Media
By checking out their social media channels you may learn about events they are hosting, news they are sharing about the company, or see videos and/or photos of employees. This may also give you a feel for the company’s culture and values.
Track Competitors’ Activities
When you research the company’s competitors, you may notice trends. These trends are also likely to happen within the company you are targeting. Knowing about the competition helps you predict what may be coming next or what changes need to be made.
Talk To Employees (Current and Past)
Before putting your energy into writing a letter of interest, make sure you want to work there. The best way to uncover this information is by speaking with current and former employees. Ask them what they like about working there and what they don’t like.
As a last resort, you could look at the company’s reviews on Glassdoor. But that often doesn’t provide the same quality of information.
In your conversations you may also learn about technology they use, goals for growth or plans for change. All of this could be useful when writing your letter of interest.
Address The Letter To The Right Decision Maker
The right decision maker is the person inside the company with the authority to hire you. That’s not Human Resources or a recruiter, unless you want to work in those departments. It could be the person who heads up the department you want to work in or it could be a senior officer in the company. Use LinkedIn or the company website to identify the name and title of the person you would report into.
When writing your letter of interest, you must address it to a specific person so it reaches the right person and shows you’ve done your research.
Finding the name of the right person is also important because you will probably email your letter of interest.
Write A Great Subject Line
Sending your letter of interest as an email is the fastest and most efficient way to deliver it. When sending any email, it’s critical to use a subject line that gets the manager’s attention. Imagine how many emails someone gets at work during the day – hundreds, if not thousands. It’s the subject line that will compel the reader to open your message.
Be Concise And Professional
People are busy and don’t read every email. That’s why it’s important that your interest letter be short, professional and to the point. You want it to catch their attention, not necessarily answer every question they may have. Here are some reminders:
- Use formal business language.
- Write shorter paragraphs and consider using bullets instead of sentences.
- Always double and triple check your work for spelling and grammatical errors.
Ask For A Conversation
At the end of your letter, you will ask the reader to accept your invitation for a phone call. Just to be clear, this call is an information gathering conversation, not a job interview. The purpose of your call is to learn more about the inner workings of the department, to ask about the skills and knowledge they value, and to ask what their future hiring plans are.
The decision maker inside the company is also interested in learning more about your background and skills to assess whether there is a potential fit within his or her team.
Always Follow Up
In order for that conversation to happen, you must ask for one. You will also want to follow up at least a couple of times after you send the letter to see if they had a chance to read it and ask if they would be available for a brief conversation.
Don’t Include A Resume
Instead of attaching your resume, a better option is to include a link to your LinkedIn profile which provides a thorough overview of your experience and all your achievements. Since there isn’t a job available, it would be difficult for you to customize your resume to address the unique requirements of the job.
If you attach a link to your LinkedIn profile, you can see if the hiring manager or someone from the company has looked at your profile.
Now that you understand some of the basics of the letter, let’s look at how to format your letter of interest.
Formatting Your Letter
Your letter of interest is considered business correspondence, it’s not a casual text message. You want to use appropriate formatting and wording to get the reader’s attention fast and show your professionalism.
While we call this a letter, it’s more likely that you would send it as an email. The content of your letter becomes the body of the email.
Of course you could still mail your letter and due to the low volume of mail, your letter may have a greater chance of getting noticed than your email message.
People are too busy to open attachments. Don’t include your letter of interest as an attachment to your email. Instead, include your letter in the body of your email.
Use this format to address your letter of interest.
When Writing A Physical Letter
If you were actually to mail a letter, then use a formal business letter format. Here’s what the top of the letter would look like:
Header (formatted like the header of your resume):
City, ST Zip
Mr./Ms. First Name Last Name of recipient
Company Mailing Address
City, ST Zip
If you are emailing your letter, you do not need to include all this information. However, you will need the person’s email address.
You can use one of these free tools to look up an email address with a high degree of certainty.
When Writing An Email
When emailing the hiring decision maker, craft an interesting subject line. Something other than “I want to work for your company.”
Here are some examples of subject lines you can adapt:
- Subject: Do you need your next project manager to use Agile methodology?
- Subject: Is analyzing customer data something you need help with?
- Subject: Why wait to streamline your operations?
Then start your email using a formal introduction:
Dear Mr./Ms Last Name:
Opening Paragraph – Hook Them
In your first paragraph, you have seconds to capture the reader’s attention. There are several ways to do this. You could:
- Include the reason you are interested in the company and want to work there
- Mention a fact about the company and why that’s important to you
- Highlight an accomplishment you know would benefit them
If you choose to explain why you are interested in working for the company, make it specific. You could mention that you’ve seen news about their growth, that they won an award for being a desirable place to work, you are a fan of their product or service, or you have friends who love working there.
Another option is to align your personal interests or values with those of the company you are writing. Mission-based companies appreciate people whose values align with their own. So if you have a passion for social justice, rescuing animals or something that aligns with the company, be sure to mention that.
The third option is to address how you will benefit the company. List one of your accomplishments in one of these areas that aligns with what the company may need:
- Save or make more money
- Expand the business
- Increase the customer base
- Solve a problem
- Improve processes, systems or operations (or the way things are being done)
- Respond to a problem in the community
- Capitalize on, or respond to, a trend
Next, since there isn’t a job available, you want to let the reader know what roles you are best suited for. You need to provide some area of focus so they can initially categorize you. Don’t expect the reader to be a career match-maker.
Once you entice the reader by explaining why you are interested in their company, your next paragraph explains how your experience, education and skills will make you a strong potential match, help fill gaps or in some other way benefit the company. This paragraph can be a bulleted list or short sentences.
Since this is a short letter, you only have time to mention qualifications that are directly relevant and important to the company.
Use accomplishments that spell out what you did and the quantifiable outcomes. For example:
- By analyzing customer data, improved ROI by 25%
- Reduced collection period from 65 days to 34 days
- Developed new industry relationships and closed 110% of sales quota
Remember, your ultimate goal is to convince the reader to agree to a conversation with you, or perhaps even pick up the phone and call you.
In this final paragraph, you want to let the reader know what to do or what will happen next. If you are determined to get a response, then the best course of action is to state that you will be following up with them. But always include your contact information at the bottom of your email, just in case.
Samples And Templates
Starting from scratch can be difficult, so the letter of interest samples below will give you some ideas on how to structure your own letter.
Dear Mr. Jones:
I read an article recently in Marketing Magazine Online about Acme’s innovative approach to digital marketing. You were quoted as saying “We are dedicated to building relationships with our customers, not just taking their money.” This is so refreshing to hear and compelled me to reach out.
I am a Content Planner and Analyst and have over five years of experience analyzing the ROI of our digital marketing efforts. Through my analysis, we were able to improve ROI by 25%, a notable achievement in this area. A key component of my analysis involved looking at the long-term and recurring engagements of customers. My deep understanding in this area is something I think you and Acme would be interested in as it’s the core of building relationships.
If you think my expertise in analyzing engagement, customer relationship building and ROI would be a benefit to Acme, I’d be open to having a conversation. My contact information is below, however, I’ll follow up next week to see if there’s interest.
Dear Ms. Smith:
My former co-worker, Sam Peterson, suggested that I write to you to discuss your accounting department needs and priorities. He speaks highly of ABC Company and your recent industry recognition in Accounting Today, backs this up.
In my most recent role as junior accountant, I oversaw the month-end reporting, accounts payable team and receivables team. I have worked within several different SAP systems and regularly use advanced Excel functionality. Many of the procedural changes I helped implement resulted in a reduced collection period from 65 days to 34 days and overall improved the ease of use and access to reporting.
I’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your accounting department needs and will follow up next week to see if you have time for a brief call. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dear Ms. Bowers:
I’ve been using XYZ’s software since it launched in 2010. As an avid user, I can think of nothing better than to be on the inside of a company I so strongly believe in. I’ve scoured your site and follow your company on social media in hopes of finding an opening in data analysis. Since I haven’t seen anything recently, I wanted to reach out and introduce myself.
As a data analyst with BB Bank, I’ve been focused on building their customer dashboard and translating the millions of data points into information that is easy to monitor. I’ve used tools like R, SQL and Tableau to manage and present data. I also worked with the project team that launched our new online banking app to ensure the data remained secure.
I’d love to discuss XYZ’s data analysis needs and how I may be able to help. Would you be open to meeting with me at your convenience? I’ll follow up next week to see if there’s time in your schedule. Thank you in advance.
This is technically something called an employment proposal, which is very similar to a letter of interest. However, here you are pitching yourself for a role inside a company where there aren’t any openings. It may be a role they do not have yet, but based on your research, you think they need. The purpose of this employment proposal is to supply justification for the role, based on your research, and provide clear expectations of what you will do.
Here’s an example of an employment proposal written for a customer relations advocate.
Dear Dr. Jones:
RATIONALE: Increase your profits by improving the rate of customers who keep their appointments by having a staff person who will primarily serve the following functions:
- Create a customer information database and maintain updated records;
- Contact customers prior to scheduled appointments;
- Keep customers informed of special sales and events and keep an up-to-date file on each customer and
- Serve as a customer advocate by inviting feedback about ways to improve and/or expand services.
WHO: I am a self-starter who recently completed a certificate program in clerical administration at XYZ School. I offer strong organizational skills, marketing and customer service experience with a highly cooperative and upbeat attitude.
HOW: I am available 20-30 hours per week, afternoons or evenings, depending on the needs of your business. To perform these duties I’ll require access to your data-entry system and if you need me to be onsite, a designated space and phone.
CONDITIONS: I will provide these services for $20.00 an hour for the first three months. If after this period of time you find my work to be as profitable as expected, I will continue as a regular employee for $22.00 an hour.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this proposal. I will contact you again early next week to schedule an appointment at your convenience.
Writing a letter of interest is a way to proactively pursue or create opportunities that are not publicly posted. While it takes effort to craft an enticing letter, by doing so, you demonstrate your interest.
There will be those job seekers who merely post their resume and hope for a response, but that’s not you. You’re determined and a go-getter.
What do you have to lose?
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.