What’s the Difference Between a Cover Letter and a Letter of Interest?
The main difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest is:
- a cover letter is used to apply for a job opening
- a letter of interest is used to express interest in working at a company that isn’t necessarily hiring
Picking which type of letter to use is simple:
If you’re applying for an open job, write a cover letter. When writing, target the hiring manager’s needs listed in the company’s job advertisement, and explain how you can meet those needs if they hire you. Make sure to package it with your resume.
If you’re hoping to work at a company that isn’t hiring, use a letter of interest. Your letter should focus on your love or deep interest for the company, and explain why you think you’d make a good employee if given the chance to work there. You don’t need to send a resume with a letter of interest, but it might help.
While the letters are similar, there are some critical differences. Read on to learn how to write the letter you need.
Letter of Interest Writing Tips
A letter of interest is written similarly to a cover letter. However, there are some differences that you should bear in mind if you need to write one. Follow these tips to write an effective letter of interest.
Emphasize Your Interest in the Company Through Research
Although this is a common cover letter writing tip, it’s even more important for creating your letter of interest. Since the company isn’t actively looking for employees, you’ll need to show how the company’s goals tie in to your passions.
To do this, make it clear you’ve researched the company and understand its products, culture, and future ambitions to show the hiring manager you genuinely want to work there.
Also address your letter of interest directly to the hiring manager, preferably by their name. You can look for their name on LinkedIn or the company’s website. Otherwise, you can try calling the company to ask for the name of the hiring manager.
If you still can’t find their name, use their title (for example, “Dear Marketing Director”). Generic openers like “To Whom It May Concern,” and “Dear Sir or Madam,” show you haven’t taken the time to research who you’re writing to.
Offer to Send Your Resume to the Hiring Manager
You’re not required to submit a resume with your letter of interest. But if you choose not to attach your resume, you should at least offer to send it in later.
Include a sentence near the end of your letter that lets the hiring manager know you’d be happy to send in your resume if they’re interested. Just make sure your resume is ready to go by the time you send out your letter of interest, so you don’t force the hiring manager to wait while you make one.
Request to Meet, or Speak by Phone
At the end of your letter of interest, request a chance to speak with the hiring manager by phone or meet them for a formal interview, informational interview, or casual coffee.
Giving the hiring manager several options allows them to pick the one that most suits their schedule, preferences, and workload. You’ll also come across as flexible, a transferable skill hiring managers value.
Cover Letter Writing Tips
If you’re turning in a job application, submit a cover letter along with your resume. Follow these guidelines to put together a well-written cover letter:
Tailor Your Cover Letter to the Job Posting
You shouldn’t reuse a cover letter. Doing so is a missed opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the specific needs of the company and have thought about how it could benefit from your unique set of skills.
To find out what a potential employer is looking for in their employees and what you should focus on in your cover letter, you can:
- Scan the job description for resume keywords
- Request an informational interview with someone at the company
- Check the website to learn about the company’s core values and mission statement
Once you’ve done your research, incorporate your findings into your cover letter. A letter that is clearly tailored to the job is much more likely to stand out to hiring managers than a generic cover letter.
Expand Upon the Information in Your Resume
A cover letter is supposed to go into further detail about the information included on your resume, not repeat it.
Use your cover letter to explain why you’re interested in the position and company you’re applying to, and how your work background and education has given you the skills needed to thrive in the role.
Expand upon a couple of bullet points listed on your resume and tell employers why these accomplishments prove that you have what it takes to be successful at their company.
End with a Call to Action
Place a call to action in the final paragraph of your cover letter to inform hiring managers that you’re willing to further discuss the qualities that make you a great candidate for the role at an interview.
Here’s an example of what a call to action should look like:
Finishing your cover letter with a call to action shows that you’re serious about the job.
Letter of Interest vs Cover Letter (Two Examples)
To get an idea about how a letter of interest is written differently than a cover letter, check out these two downloadable examples. We’ve also provided text versions to help you write either type of professional letter.
Letter of Interest Sample
13 January 2022
1301 K Street NW
Washington, DC, 20071
Dear Ms. Theresa Adams,
Over the past decade, I have had three primary sources of news: My current employer (The Pioneer Press), The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Your consistent level of journalistic excellence is informative and inspiring, and it is what led me to contact you to ask whether you have any open journalist positions.
I have 12 years of experience as a reporter and a portfolio of work on subjects ranging from sports to politics. I created a new column on local businesses at The Pioneer Press that has increased our brand awareness in the community by 13%. Additionally, I have served on the paper’s state politics board for 5 years where I contribute to choosing which candidates the paper endorses in state-wide races. However, my husband is relocating to Washington so our two children and I will be joining him by the end of the academic year.
The idea of continuing my career at The Washington Post is exciting, and I would love the opportunity to speak with you or a member of your team about how I can best assist the company. I am available over the phone at 212 253-1426 or we can set up a virtual conference via my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Cover Letter Sample
14 April 2022
1679 Mulbridge Rd
Jonesville, SC, 29353
Dear Mr. Andrew Caruso,
I was excited to see your job listing for the Lead Digital Marketing position at Westward Strategies on Indeed.com. As a dynamic email marketing specialist with over two years of professional experience executing market research, analyzing consumer data,and running A/B tests to drive successful marketing campaigns, I’m confident that I would be a valuable asset to the team at Westward.
Your job listing mentions a need for someone who is experienced in email segmentation and campaign development, both of which are areas I have extensive experience in. I’m currently employed at Marketed Inc., where I’ve honed my skills by running numerous successful email marketing campaigns. While employed here, I’ve spearheaded a digital promotion campaign for the company’s new line of sandals that successfully raised our total online engagement by an impressive 17% over the course of six months, contributing substantially to the department’s annual goals.
I look forward to discussing the Lead Digital Marketing position and my qualifications with you in more detail. I’m available to talk at your convenience. I’ll be in touch next week to follow up and to make sure you’ve received my application.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.