Letter of Interest vs Cover Letter - Which One to Use

Letter of interest vs. cover letter? Which one to use? Both a letter of interest and a cover letter can serve as your initial communication with the hiring manager of a potential employer. However, these letters each have a distinct purpose. Understanding the difference between a letter of interest and a cover letter will help you choose the right way to communicate your intentions.

letter of interest vs cover letter

Letter of interest vs. cover letter

A letter of interest expresses your desire to work for a company/firm that has not yet advertised a job opportunity. This letter informs the recruiting manager that you are interested in working for the company. It outlines why you'd be a good fit for that firm, what qualifications you have, and where you'd like to work in the future. In most cases, a letter of interest will include background information about why you've chosen to contact them.

letter of interest vs cover letter

A cover letter is a document that goes with your resume and expresses your interest in a certain job opening. A cover letter's components are comparable to those of a letter of interest. A cover letter, on the other hand, is for a specific position that the firm has posted. Your cover letter should make the reader want to read the rest of your resume/CV and contact you for an interview by helping it stand out.

letter of interest vs cover letter

Key differences

  • Letters of interest generally require more research.
  • Cover letters are responding to open job postings/job ads.

The difference between a cover letter and letter of interest generally apply to the type of job search the job seeker is performing.

If there isn't a public job listing, sending a letter of interest is key. Job seekers who are responding to job postings should use a cover letter, instead.

Both a letter of interest and cover letter can be utilized in a job hunt.

How to choose between a letter of interest or a cover letter

It's critical to select the appropriate format for your requirements, whether you're expressing interest in a firm or responding to a job posting.

A letter of interest is a general statement expressing your interest in a firm and your desire to work there. Though a job opening may exist inside that firm, it is not assured, and they are not actively soliciting candidates. Your letter of interest serves as your first point of contact for potential career possibilities.

letter of interest vs cover letter

Use a letter of interest when

  • You come across an intriguing organization that is a good fit for your skills/talents through an article.
  • You come across a sign or an announcement for a new business opening or expansion that you'd want to work at.
  • A contact notifies you of a job position that has not yet been made public.
  • You locate a firm that appeals to you because of its culture, location, or mission statement, and you want to be the first to learn about job openings there.

Or a cover letter when

A resume is always accompanied by a cover letter. This is a letter sent in response to a specific job opportunity. You'll include your résumé as well as any additional necessary paperwork, such as a portfolio, and make a note of the specific position you're applying for.

  • You're replying to a job ad that's open to the public.
  • You're replying to a job opening within the company.
  • You're sending in your resume.

How to write a letter of interest

Here's how to write a letter of interest.

Introduce yourself

Start your letter with a one- or two-sentence introduction that provides your name and a brief description of your history.

Explain why you're writing

Explanation of why you've chosen to submit a letter of interest to this company, including the specific features that appeal to you.

letter of interest vs cover letter

Explain how you fit into the company

Investigate the company's culture and scope so that you may customize this to the company's particular demands. Describe how your background, personality, and education can help the company succeed.

Mention key skills and experience

Include a list of your qualifications and experience that you can contribute to the organization. Include any degrees, certificates, honors, or other notable accomplishments that illustrate your competence.

Express your years of experience in the role. Or a similar role. Mention the value that you brought to your prior jobs.

Provide written detail on what you could provide to the company, in a professional capacity.

Request an informational interview

Thank the receiver for their time and let them know you're available for an informative interview at the end. Regardless of whether or not a job offer is on the table, this sort of interview allows the receiver to get to know you better.

Use a letter of interest template.

letter of interest vs cover letter

How to write a cover letter

Here's how to write a cover letter.

Open the cover letter

Give some basic information about yourself and the job you're looking for. Use the proper greeting to address the hiring manager. Create a strong opening paragraph that attracts the reader to your one-page resume.

Explain why you're a great fit for the job

Look into the company's culture, objectives, and recent achievements. Refer to them and customize this part to the company for which you want to work.

Use strong work examples. List bullet points of key achievements at prior jobs. And ensure that the achievements mentioned are strategically aligned to the job description, the company, and the types of skills that are requested of the hiring manager.

Provide work examples

To illustrate your abilities and knowledge, including concrete samples of comparable work you've done in the past.

Encourage the reader to read the resume

Finish with a call to action, encouraging the reader to go through your resume/CV and contact you for an interview.

letter of interest vs cover letter

Sample letter of interest

Dear Mr. Anderson:

I’m reaching out to you because I’ve been a huge fan of XYZ Company for several years. From having the first iPhone to now seeing the latest technology put into the iPhone 11. It's world-class. I’m familiar with your work environment, culture, and discipline of the work. And I’d like to tell you some about myself if there are future opportunities that are about to open.

A few things I’ve been able to do as a Product Designer:

  • Reached 30M people through the work I’ve done on The Washington Post and their editorial UI.
  • Redesigned and updated The Daily Beast iOS application. Resulting in a 38% increase in engagement and total downloads.

I’d love to talk with you. And share more of my work. And generally, hear about the work environment or any upcoming opportunities that might exist at Apple. Do you have time this week? Or is there a future job opening that sticks out to you?

Thank you so much, look forward to speaking with you.

John Ryan

Sample cover letter

May 29th, 2021

Sarah Anderson


300 West Block

Chicago, IL 60707

(663) 847-8466

[email protected]

Dear Ms. Anderson

I'm writing to submit my formal application for the role of Software Sales Leader. I've spent the last 12 years of my career working closely with engineering teams and sales teams to direct geographical based and territorial based sales efforts.

In my current role, we've led more than 5 initiatives down the pipeline. Leading to more than a 30% bump in lead generation over the past 12-months. Resulting in more than a 4X increase in our bottom line and overall revenue. This role attracted me because it appears that it's going to be more cross-functional with the marketing team. And this will provide me more ability to execute.

Additionally, I take pride in my numbers as a seals leader and the achievements I've been able to contribute to the companies I'm part of.

Here are a few highlights of my career:

  • Increased net sales by 4X at Apple.
  • Led the development of a 200 person sales team.
  • Hired more than 100 territory sales leaders.

I look forward to speaking with you more regarding this opportunity. I'm available at your earliest convenience.


John Smith

More cover letter outlines and examples.

Letter of interest writing tips

Best writing tips when producing a letter of interest. A letter of interest is similar to a cover letter in format. However, there are certain distinctions to be aware of if you need to write one.

Research the company

This is a typical cover letter writing advice, but it's much more crucial when drafting your letter of interest. Because the firm isn't actively hiring, you'll need to demonstrate how the organization's aims align with your interests.

Make it apparent that you've done your homework and are familiar with the company's products, culture, and future goals to demonstrate to the hiring manager that you truly want to work there.

Also, address your letter of interest to the recruiting manager by their name, if possible. On LinkedIn or the company's website.

If you can't remember their name, try using their title (for example, "Dear Sales Director"). Generic salutations like "To Whom It May Concern" and "Dear Sir/Madam" demonstrate that you haven't done your homework on who you're writing to.

Offer to send the hiring manager your resume

A resume/CV is not necessary to accompany your letter of interest. If you don't want to attach your resume/CV, at the very least say you'll submit it later.

Let the hiring manager know at the end of your letter that you'd be delighted to send in your resume if they're interested. Just make sure your resume/CV is nearly complete by the time you send out your letter of interest, so the hiring manager doesn't have to wait while you finish one.

Pro tip: 70% of jobs aren't advertised online. Use a letter of interest to your advantage.

Request a meeting or call to speak with someone

Request a phone interview or a formal interview, informative interview, or a casual coffee with the recruiting manager at the conclusion of your letter of interest.

Allowing the hiring manager to choose from a variety of alternatives helps them to choose the one that best fits their schedule, preferences, and workload. You'll also come across as adaptable, which recruiting managers like.

letter of interest vs cover letter

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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