The Difference Between Letters of Interest and Cover Letters

Letters of interest can be a useful way to get a job offer. What’s the difference between these types of prospecting letters and a standard cover letter?

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Letter of Interest

If you’re interested in a specific job, but there aren’t any job postings available for the job, you may be able to send a letter of interest. For job seekers who are interested in sending these letters, here’s what you need to know.

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What Is a Letter of Interest?

A letter of interest, sometimes called a letter of inquiry or a letter of intent, is a letter to a prospective employer about an open position that doesn’t have a job posting anywhere. You would write a letter of interest if you knew a specific position was open in a company — which might happen if you’re currently an employee of that company — or if you feel as though there’s a position that you could perform that would add value to the company.

Letter of Interest vs Cover Letter

A letter of interest and a cover letter have many things in common. Both of them are letters you write to recruiters, featuring your certifications, contact information and professional experience. They can even both use a cover letter template to create an effective format. However, they also differ.
 
Here are a few things you might notice about a letter of interest:

  • Often slightly shorter
  • Requires more research
  • Inquiring about a job without a listing
  • Often doesn’t accompany a resume

On the other hand, here are a few things that you may notice about a cover letter:

  • Often slightly longer
  • Includes much more of your achievements
  • Inquiring about a job with a listing
  • Included with the resume you submit

Generally, a full job application with a resume and cover letter is part of a traditional job search. However, a letter of interest is all about identifying job opportunities that are outside the typical search. Many job seekers who send letters of interest just want to talk to a potential employer about how they can apply their years of experience to a particular job role. You can write the type of letter that works for your career needs.


Best Tips for Writing a Letter of Interest

When writing a letter of interest, keep it as short as possible. Following the three-paragraph cover letter format might work well. Your opening paragraph needs to make a great first impression. Your second paragraph needs to quickly highlight your work experience and explain why you’re sending in a letter. Your closing paragraph needs to ask for an interview. This makes an ideal general letter of interest template, and it needs to be as short as possible so that human resources actually reads through it.
 
It’s important that you address your business letter to the right person. You cannot address this letter to, “To Whom It May Concern.” If you don’t know who the head of HR or the hiring manager is, contact the company to learn who you should send this letter to. Starting your letter with, “Dear Mr. Smith” helps you make a much better first impression and shows you did your research.
 
Remember, doing your research is important for writing the best letter of interest. Find out exactly what a company is looking for, then fulfill it with your letter of interest.

FAQ: Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter

Q: What are informational interviews for letters of interest?

An informational interview is an interview with existing employees of a company to gather information that can help you write your letter of interest. You can also do these interviews to prepare for a job interview at the company. If you’re thinking about reaching out to a current employee, which some people do on job networking sites like LinkedIn, prepare with informational interview questions first.

Q: When should I be sending letters of interest?

Many companies don’t advertise their jobs prominently, which means a letter of interest can help you find a job more quickly. If you have the skills you need to impress a hiring manager, you should definitely send letters of interest.

Q: How often should I send letters of interest?

Any time you find a potential company that you think might benefit from having you for an employee, a letter of interest is a great starting point. Remember, do a search to ensure that there isn’t already a job posting active on the internet for your dream role at the company. If you send a letter of interest instead of a job application, it will not only cause you to miss out on an existing job opportunity, but it may even reflect poorly on you.

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