The Letter of Intent
The phrase "letter of intent" has multiple meanings depending upon the person using the terminology. Letters of intent in your job search can be considered the same as "application letters" or "cover letters". However, in education employment, this letter is usually synonymous with the terms "offer letter" or "employment offer". A letter of intent is written by the employer informing you of the details of a job offer.
These letters are not the same as teacher contracts. Letters of intent are usually issued after you have spoken with decision makers at job fairs or a formal interview. If you receive a letter of intent, it will usually state the position, name of the employer, start date, hiring salary and other conditions that must be met in order to formally accept the job offer. A deadline to respond to the offer is usually included in the letter. Acceptance of a job offer should be done in writing, and you should commit to working for one employer at a time. Accepting an offer and then later changing your mind is considered poor job search etiquette.
After an offer has been accepted, a teacher contract is extended and other steps will be completed before you begin work with your new employer. I recommend consulting the AAEE Job Search Handbook for tips on accepting employment offers and teacher contracts if you need help determining what is important to you in an offer.
LaTonya Y. Henry,
Director of Career Development
Texas Lutheran University