Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter: Definitions, Tips and Examples

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated May 18, 2022 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated May 18, 2022

Published January 3, 2020

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter

In this video, we walk through each part of a cover letter sample, explain how a cover letter boosts your application and review the best cover letter format.

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. In this article, we explore when you should use each of these documents and how to draft them effectively.

Letter of interest vs. cover letter

A letter of interest is a document that conveys your desire to work for a company that hasn’t posted a job opening. This letter lets the hiring manager know that you’re interested in seeking a position with the business. It explains why you would be a good fit for that company, what your qualifications are and where you see yourself working. A letter of interest will often include background information that details why you’ve chosen to reach out.

A cover letter is a document that accompanies your resume and briefly explains your interest in a particular job posting. The elements of a cover letter are similar to those of a letter of interest. However, a cover letter refers to a specific job that the company has advertised. Your cover letter helps your resume stand out and should make the reader more interested in reviewing your full resume and contacting you for an interview.

Tips for choosing a letter of interest vs. a cover letter

It’s important to choose the right format for your needs, whether expressing interest in a company or an available job posting.

A letter of interest is a broad statement indicating that you’re intrigued by a company and hope to find opportunities there. Though there may be a job opportunity within that company, it’s not guaranteed and they’re not actively seeking resumes. Your letter of interest is your initial point of contact from which future job opportunities might arise. Write a letter of interest when:

  • You read an article about an intriguing company that is a good fit for your skillset.

  • You see a sign or announcement for a new business opening or expansion that you’re interested in working at.

  • A contact informs you of a job opening that hasn’t been publicly announced yet.

  • You find a company with an appealing culture, location or mission statement and you want to be the first to hear about opportunities there.

A cover letter always accompanies a resume. This is a letter sent in direct response to a specific job opening. You will note the exact title that you’re applying for and include your resume along with any other requested documentation, such as a portfolio. Write a cover letter when:

  • You’re responding to a public job posting.

  • You’re responding to an internal job opportunity.

  • You’re submitting a resume.

How to write a letter of interest

Here are the steps for writing a letter of interest:

1. Introduce yourself

Open your letter with a brief one or two-sentence introduction that includes your name and a summary of your background.

2. Explain why you’re writing

Elaborate on why you’ve chosen to write a letter of interest to this company, explaining the specific elements that make the business appealing to you. 

3. Detail how you fit into the company

Research the culture and scope of the business so you can tailor this to the specific needs of the business. Detail how your experience, personality and education will contribute positively to the business.

4. Mention your skills and experience

Detail the skills and experience that you can bring to the company. Include degrees, certifications, awards and other specific achievements that demonstrate your expertise.

5. Request an informational interview

Conclude by thanking the recipient for their time and mentioning that you’re available for an informational interview. This type of interview will give the recipient a chance to get to know you better, regardless of whether a job offer is a possibility.

Read more: Letter of Interest: Definition, Tips and Examples

How to write a cover letter

Here are the basic steps for writing a cover letter:

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Cover Letter Format

  1. Date and contact information

  2. Salutation or greeting

  3. Opening paragraph

  4. Middle paragraph(s)

  5. Closing paragraph

  6. Letter ending and signature

1. Introduce yourself

Provide basic information about who you are and the position that you’re applying for.

2. Explain why you’re a good fit for the job

Research the company’s culture, mission statement and recent accomplishments. Refer to these and tailor this section to the business that you’re interested in working for.

3. Provide examples of past accomplishments

Include specific examples of similar work that you’ve done in the past to demonstrate your skills and expertise.

4. Encourage the reader to look at your resume

Conclude with a call to action that encourages the reader to peruse your resume and set up an interview.

Read more: Cover Letter Samples and Templates

Cover letter and letter of interest examples

The following samples provide an overview of what a cover letter looks like compared to a letter of interest so you can better understand the differences and similarities between the two.

Sample cover letter

Dear Ms. Willis,

My name is Lee Chu, and I’m applying for the marketing associate position with Creative Campaigns. I have seven years of experience in marketing and am currently seeking a fresh opportunity that will present new creative challenges. I’m a big fan of your recent “In the City” campaign, and believe that my expertise with creating augmented reality (AR) apps would be a good fit for the direction that your marketing efforts have gone in.

Working with Choice Foods, I developed an AR program that allowed shoppers to see overlays of nutrition information and cooking suggestions for fresh produce when the smartphone camera was pointed at various items. The app identified the produce and displayed an animated caricature of the item complete with a profile of helpful information. Sales of lesser-known products more than doubled after the release of the app and associated marketing campaign.

You will see similar results with the other marketing campaigns that I have worked on detailed in my resume. I look forward to speaking with you about how I might contribute to your marketing team.

Sincerely,
Lee Chu

Read more: How to Use Cover Letter Samples

Sample letter of interest

Dear Mr. Curtis,

My name is Shawna Decker, and I recently graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. I read 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 coming 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 two 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 five-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,
Shawna Decker

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