American College of Clinical Pharmacy
      Search      Cart

Letter of Intent Pearls

Purpose of a letter of intent

The purpose of a letter of intent (LOI), sometimes called a cover letter or letter of interest, is to highlight aspects of your CV relative the position you're applying for to get an interview. From the program’s perspective, the LOI is read to decide whether the candidate has the relevant skills, abilities, and experience for the position; good written communication skills; and goals and interests that match what the program offers.

Deloping Your Letter of Intent

Developing a LOI is often the most difficult part of the residency application process for many candidates because they must promote themselves and their achievements. This can feel uncomfortable, especially when just starting out in your career. The key is to substantiate your attributes with detailed experiences and to reference specific achievements. For example, describe what you accomplished in your duties as class president rather than simply state that you held this position.

Two notable things you can do is to show the program that you have done your research and make connections with the program. Even better is when you can show how your experiences so far have helped prepare you for particular aspects of the program or how components of the program will specifically help you in your professional development and career goals. The letter should be tailored specifically to the program, and you should avoid writing a generic letter for each program. This demonstrates to the program that you have put a lot of effort and consideration into the process. Some tips to keep in mind to help your LOI stand out include making the letter flow, transitioning well between paragraphs, and showing how the information in each section interrelates and points to you as a good fit for the program.


  • First paragraph
    • State the position you are applying for, explain how you found the position and why you are interested
    • Clearly indicate your effort to learn about the program
  • Second paragraph(s)
    • One or two paragraphs total
    • Highlight your strengths, achievements and experiences relative to the program; refer to your CV
    • Address specific questions here
  • Third paragraph
    • Reinforce your interest, indicate why you are a good fit and thank the reader/program for considering you

LOI “Dos” and “Don’ts”

  • Do
    • Keep it concise and avoid being overly verbose
    • Keep it to a single page
    • Use a 10- to 12-point font; choose a professional and simple font
    • Double check for typos and grammatical errors
    • Seek peer review
  • Don't
    • Use bullets, lists, outlines
    • Use the same letter for all programs
    • Describe long tales of personal hardship
    • Use an overabundance of buzzwords
    • Regurgitate your CV
    • Provide a generic description of you or the program