By Janny Foss
This post previously appeared on The Muse.
You’re dying to work for Company X. I mean, it’s basically your life’s mission: Work for Company X.
You love their products, their brand, and just about everything you hear about them. And while you visit their careers page nearly every day, you’ve yet to find an open role that’s just right for your skills, experience, and career goals.
What should you do? Should you keep waiting and waiting for something to pop up, or is there a more proactive way to go about getting on their radar?
You can write a little thing called a letter of interest.
Unlike a cover letter, which you use to introduce yourself and make clear your fit for a specific position, a letter of interest (also sometimes referred to as a letter of intent) is more like a pitch letter. You’re going to introduce yourself, of course. But instead of targeting a certain role, this is your opportunity to spell out what you love about the organization, and sell them on why you’d be an asset to it.
It’s the perfect option if you feel down to your bones that you have something of great value to offer to a particular organization, but you haven’t seen a posting for a job that’s quite right for you.
How, specifically, can you write a letter of interest? Here are a few quick tips (plus, some samples of what it should look like):
1. Begin With Why You Love the Company
People love from-the-heart flattery, whether it’s about themselves or the companies they represent. And hiring managers want to hire people who don’t just want a job but believe in and are excited about what their organization is doing and stands for.
That being the case, you’ve got a great opportunity to draw the reader in by kicking your letter of interest off with a quick statement that spells out what you love most about the organization.
Maybe you purchase and use their product regularly, maybe you read their newsletter daily, maybe you admire their leadership team (and religiously follow them on social media)—whatever it is, start off with the good stuff that shows you know what they’re all about. Just avoid beginning with something super generic or vague like, “I love your organization and what you do” or “I admire your company’s mission” or “I’m a big fan of [Company]”—you know, anything that can be said about any company. Get specific right away and toss these throw-away lines aside.
What That Looks Like
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
As a product development leader, I know innovation when I see it. And when I see it, I pay attention. You’re fearlessly pushing into new terrain with artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and I’d love to be a part of it.
2. Tell Them Who You Are (and What You Specialize In)
Next, shift into the “here’s who I am and how I fit into your equation” portion of the letter. This is your shot to introduce yourself as an incredibly interesting human being, and someone who might be well suited for this organization. Keep this part short and sweet, but make sure they know right out of the gate how you align with their business.
What That Looks Like
I’m Jill Smith, a curious and resourceful product innovator and program manager. I’ve built a career around delivering game-changing products, systems, and solutions on behalf of some of the biggest brands in the world, with specific expertise in SaaS and AR/VR.
3. Share a Few Thoughts on How You Might Help Them
Then, dive into the specifics. Do you have some ideas for how you could help this organization? Do you have specific skills that make you uniquely qualified to grow their business? Share them in this section.
Because you’re not applying to a specific role, this is where you showcase what value you’d bring. Even though the company may not be hiring for your dream job at the moment, if nothing else, you immediately put yourself on their radar as someone they could hire down the road should they ever decide to expand their team. Best case scenario, you open the door for them to create a role just for you.
What That Looks Like
I can help you take a design from a napkin drawing through every step of the development process. Or I can support the specific areas where you need a bit of counsel, problem solving, or leadership.
I’m particularly interested in supporting you with your next-generation content creation products, but I’m quite open to discussing any product development or program management assignment that may benefit from a change agent, a workhorse, or just an extra pair of hands.
4. End With an Invitation to Chat
And last but certainly not least, close out your letter of interest with a specific ask. What do you want the outcome to be? What, exactly, are you asking for? Maybe you do have a specific job in mind (either one they’re hiring for or one you’d like to create), or maybe you’re just looking to chat with their team to see where you’d fit in. Either way, spell this out at the end of your letter.
What That Looks Like
I’d love an opportunity to learn more about your biggest design and development goals and challenges and share specific thoughts on how I can help you continue your impressive journey to becoming one of the industry’s most notable innovators.
Thank you for your time, and please let me know if there’s any additional information I can provide for you.
[your email/phone number/LinkedIn profile URL]
Once you have your letter of interest written (and edited by a friend), do a bit of sleuthing to determine the likely hiring manager for your department of interest. Address your letter to that person (do not use “To Whom it May Concern”), and let ’er rip. Pop your letter in the body of an email or add it as an attachment–but don’t do both.
You may also want to point the recipient to your LinkedIn profile (which should be updated and robust), so they can take a quick peek at your background without feeling like you’re shoving your resume at them too early in the courtship.
And then be sure and follow up within about a week if you haven’t heard anything from them.
It may feel scary when you first try to send out a letter of interest, but you’d be amazed by how effective it is. Fortune does, indeed, often favor the bold. So why not be bold?