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Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter: What's the Difference?

Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter: What's the Difference?

What is the purpose of a cover letter? To sell you. What is the purpose of a letter of interest? To empower you.

In your job seeking process, you will encounter various documents you can use to boost up your application.

However, some of them may seem almost identical, which puts the question – how to know which one to use?

A great example of that are the cover letter and the letter of interest.

They are quite similar in their structure and content, but if you use the wrong one, you will most probably mess up.

But how to know which one is the right one?

We’ve got you covered, in this article, we are going to find out the answers to the following questions:

  • What is a cover letter?
  • What is a letter of interest?
  • What’s the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest?
  • How to write a cover letter?
  • How to write a letter of interest?

And we are going to leave you off with an example of a letter of interest, so that you can fully understand its structure and purpose.

So, if you are ready to dive into the topic, let’s get started.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that goes hand-in-hand with your resume.

It is a part of your application documents for a dedicated open position that the company is actively looking for an employee.

If you want to really get it right with this one, you should know how to tell a story with your cover letter.

What is a letter of interest?

A letter of interest is a one-page document that is sent out to a company that you desire to work for.

Unlike the cover letter, a letter of interest is not sent out for a specific position, but rather for a company, no matter if they currently have an open position.

In your letter of interest, you describe your interest in the company, as well as your qualifications, and ask your potential employer if they have open positions that would suit your expertise.

What’s the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest?

When it comes to choosing between a cover letter and a letter of interest, it is essential for you to know what sets them apart.

While exploring what each type of letter is, we encountered their biggest difference. A cover letter is used for applying for specific positions, but a letter of interest presents an interest in the company and explores any possibilities for an unlisted job opening.

But that is not the only difference between the two letters.

The second difference between the two is directly connected to the first one, and it is about the timing for sending the letter out.

As the cover letter is designated for a specific position, it is supposed to be sent out while the position is active.

However, the letter of interest can be sent out at any time, as it is not connected to any job opening, but expresses your interest in a company.

A big difference between the two is the accompanying documents. While a cover letter has to always go hand-in-hand with a resume and any other needed application documents, a letter of interest can be sent out without any other documents.

Furthermore, their content also can differ because of it, because unlike your cover letter, your letter of interest would no longer be used to compliment your resume, and thus, it can be kept more general in its content.

Now that you know the differences between the two letters, it would really help you out to get a better understanding by exploring how each is written.

How to write a cover letter?

When it comes to writing a cover letter, there is a clear structure you need to follow to get it right.

It goes like this:

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How to write a cover letter
  • Introduce yourself – that’s where you provide basic information about yourself, and you present your interest in the position you are applying for
  • Explain why you are the right person for the job – that’s a key moment where you need to match the company’s culture and mission, so that they would see you not only as a fit for the position, but a fit for the company
  • Use your past accomplishments – you should mention your work-related accomplishments to strengthen up what you have included in your resume, and demonstrate your skills and expertise
  • Finish with a call-to-action – that’s a key moment, as you would want to make the recruiter check out your resume, as that’s where you can really shine with all your skills and expertise

If you want to take an extra step and really nail your cover letter, don’t hesitate and check out our Cover Letter Builder.

How to write a letter of interest?

When it comes to your letter of interest, there is a quick way around it – you can just trim down your cover letter from any position specific information, and add in a little bit about what made you write to the company.

But if you really want to nail it, you can start building it from the ground up.

In order for you to do it right, you need to take some steps, that are really similar to building a cover letter:

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How to write a letter of interest
  • Introduce yourself – provide basic information about yourself and provide a summary of your background
  • Explain why you are writing – provide some information about why you have chosen to write to the company and what makes them appealing to you
  • Show that you are a good fit to the company – do your research in the company’s mission and culture, and use everything you find to highlight how you would fit perfectly into their team
  • Highlight your experience and skills – don’t forget to outline your expertise, using your work history, skill set, as well as any degrees, certifications, awards, and any other specific achievements
  • Ask for an informational interview – that’s the letter of interest’s version of the call to action in the cover letter, as it once again prompts the recruiter to contact you

Example letter of interest

And now, just to get a better understanding of how a letter of interest should be structured, check out our example:

Dear Ms. Doe,

My name is John Doe, and I recently graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. I came across an article in the Indianapolis Star about the expansion of the IU Health Center and am interested in learning more about the job opportunities that this may provide in the next few months. I’m seeking employment opportunities for biomedical equipment technicians and engineers and I would be interested in pursuing any opportunities available in the new health center upon its opening.

I have completed three internships in biomedical engineering and have a strong background working with medical equipment in hospital settings. I am extremely organized and detail-oriented and enjoy working in fast-paced environments. I’m located just a three-minute drive from the site of the new medical center and could easily be on-call and respond quickly as needed.

I appreciate your time and consideration. I am available for an informational interview at your convenience. I look forward to discussing potential opportunities with the IU Health Center.

Sincerely, John Doe

Takeaways

We are all done, now you know what are the differences between a letter of interest and a cover letter, and how to use them right.

Let’s go through the main differences one more time:

  • The purpose – a cover letter is aimed at a specific open position, but a letter of interest targets a company that you like, no matter if they have open positions or not
  • The timing – you can send out a cover letter only while the position is still open, but a letter of interest can be sent out at any moment, as it is not connected to a job position
  • The accompanying documents – a cover letter is always send out along with a resume and any additional application documents, but when you send out a letter of interest, you don’t need to send out anything else, unless you don’t want to
  • The content – your cover letter should always be oriented toward the job position you are applying for, but a letter of interest should be more focused on the company you are applying for, why you are interested in it, and what makes you a good fit

Now that you know all that, check out our example letter of interest once again, and master whichever you need to write for your job hunt.

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Evgeni Asenov
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