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How to Write a Letter of Interest
Initiate Contact with a Prospective Employer or Grant Maker
A letter of interest allows you to introduce yourself or your organization. This is sometimes called a letter of intent, and it explains to the recipient the action you plan to take.
When Do You Write a Letter of Interest?
As part of the job search process, you might write a letter of interest to a company that is hiring but has not posted specific job openings. It's a way to get your foot in the door to arrange an informational interview, explore opportunities within the company and figure out if you would be a good fit in the organization.
As part of the grant-writing process, letter of interest briefly summarizes the purpose for which you will be seeking funds and lets the grant maker know you intend to submit a complete application package.
General Letter Format
Format the letter of interest like a standard business letter:
- Block or semi-block formatting
- 1-inch margins
- Easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, point size 12
- Plain paper or personalized stationery if writing to a prospective employer; use organization's letterhead for a grant maker
A letter of interest should never be longer than a single page. If you're invited to submit a resume or application, or asked to come in for an interview, you can provide more information at that time.
Writing as a Job Seeker
State your purpose in the first sentence of the letter. If you are exploring possible job opportunities, you might reference your current (or recent) job title and cite a brief fact about an achievement. For example, you might say: "As assistant manager of a large retail department, I helped boost revenues by 12 percent last quarter." Write a brief second paragraph to provide supporting details. Use bullet points to make the information stand out and easy to read. List three or four accomplishments related to the position you seek, as in these examples:
- Twice earned "Employee of the Month" distinction
- Streamlined ordering process by creating product database
- Increased sales revenues by 8 percent.
Writing to a Grant Maker
For a letter of interest to a grant maker, briefly describe your organization and specify the dollar amount of the grant being sought. For example, "The XYZ Foundation provides meals to hungry children in the Chicago metropolitan area and respectfully requests $25,000 from the ABC Company to continue this important mission in the next year." Use a second paragraph to offer some statistics about the work done by your organization. You might include the number of meals provided, for example, or dollars raised for a cause.
Grant makers use letters of intent to weed out grant seekers whose purpose or dollar requests are outside their scope. They also use letters of intent to gauge response to their request for proposals, so they can ensure sufficient staff will be available to read through the applications they receive.
Close the letter with a short third paragraph that includes a call to action. You might let the person you're writing know that you will follow up with a phone call within the week or that you plan to submit an application.
Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for eHow.com, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.