Cover letter vs letter of interest - aren’t they both the same thing?
They’re two sides of the same coin. Albeit the pair of applications being a letter, there are some noticeable differences. Knowing what these differences are prevents you from making a mistake and enables you to highlight your value accordingly.
The Difference Between a Cover Letter and Letter of Interest
Cover letters and letters of interest are quite similar. The main distinction between them is their purpose.
A letter of interest is a documented letter that is sent to a company as an open job application, meaning you’re interested in applying for a role that matches your skills and expertise. This is a letter that focuses on why you want to work for them and what makes you a good fit. Usually, these are sent when there are no current, available job openings.
However, cover letters are a documented letter sent along with your ATS resume to describe why you’re the best person to hire for the job you’re applying for. Unlike a letter of interest, these are sent for a specific position and when there is an available job vacancy that needs to be filled.
Now, let’s answer the next question you probably have in mind...
Should You Use a Cover Letter or Letter of Interest?
It depends on your situation.
Is there a specific job posting being advertised that you want to fill? Or is it that you simply want an opportunity to work for a certain company but there are no job openings just yet?
Even though cover letters are optional, if you’re serious about landing a particular job then you should include a cover letter when you have the chance.
On the other hand, if you’re inquiring for a broader job search within a company, then use a letter of interest. In particular, when the job posting isn’t currently active or being advertised, you’re better off sending a letter of interest rather than a cover letter.
Aren’t Cover Letters and Letters of Interest The Same?
We’ve established the main difference being their purposes. However, they aren’t all that different from each other because they’re both letters.
The format is the same but the approach is different.
While the technical aspects stay the same, the objective of each paragraph is somewhat different to each other. We’ll break this down by taking a look at what a letter of interest format includes vs what a cover letter format includes.
What Should a Letter of Interest Include?
In terms of the format for a letter of interest, it’s pretty much the same as a cover letter. This means it’s made up of the following:
- Header section
- Opening paragraph
- Main body
- Closing paragraph
However, the contents within each part are slightly different.
Remember that with a letter of interest, you’re not writing for a specific job. It’s a broader job search option within one company. That means it’s more tailored towards a general area of work (e.g. in the tech space), with the company values itself, and why you believe you’re a good fit for them.
In some cases though, you can use a letter of interest to inquire for the next time a specific job position becomes available.
Nonetheless, a letter of interest will highlight the following aspects:
- Goals and objectives
- Past accomplishments
- Relevant work experience
- Talents and interests
- Matching the company culture and values
What Should a Cover Letter Include?
The cover letter format will also include the following:
- Header section
- Opening paragraph
- Main body
- Closing paragraph
A cover letter is used when you’re applying for a specific job position that’s currently being advertised. If you’re unsure on how to write a cover letter, we’ve made a full guide for you that you can read below:
Letter of Interest Example
You’ll notice the header section first, which should include your contact information and location.
Next, the candidate has made their application clear for a position in the technical space for Google. With a letter of interest however, you’ll be applying for positions which won’t currently be available. Because of this, you’ll want to make your intentions clear by saying something similar along the lines of:
- “I’m interested in applying for any open I.T. positions…”
- “I am writing to apply for the next open I.T. position…”
In your opening paragraph, it’s good to state that you’re inquiring about the next job opportunity you want to take and why you’re inquiring about it.
As we get into the main body, it starts to go more in-depth about what makes the candidate a good fit using their strengths and experience.
They’ve also made it clear where their enthusiasm comes from and they’re showing how their skills can be beneficial for the field they’re applying for. The third paragraph then touches on the candidate’s education and goes into more detail on their professional experiences.
Note that in your letter of interest, you want to highlight how your background makes you a good potential candidate.
Cover Letter Example
Like the letter of interest, the first thing that comes is the header section.
Similarly, this cover letter focuses on what makes the candidate the best fit for the position they’re inquiring for.
You’ll also notice that the main body is broken up into two paragraphs.
Paragraph one in the main body highlights the applicant’s work experience and paragraph two highlights the applicant’s education and qualifications. To finish, just like the letter of interest, they include a professional signoff and make the next steps clear.
Whichever application you decide to go for, just don’t forget to also consider how you’ll get past the applicant tracking systems.
How Do You Write a Good Expression of Interest?
This is applicable for both a cover letter and letter of interest because either way, you need to show your hiring managers your enthusiasm for the potential opportunity. They would also want to see that you’re genuinely interested in what you do.
There are three things you can consider in your application to achieve this.
1. Tailor Your Application
Personalizing every job application is essential.
Use your skills, work history, and qualifications to your advantage by matching it to the job description (for a cover letter) and/or towards the company values. Do you have any past achievements or ideal experiences that are relevant to something that would catch the hiring manager’s attention?
For example, have you taken part in a digital marketing internship? Or did you used to spend your spare time learning and developing a skill that would be useful, e.g. coding?
Don’t include anything that’s unimportant or unrelated - it’s about your employers, not you.
Tailoring your application will show you’re a good match and that you’ve done the background research. When you’ve taken onboard the company values, it’s a good expression of interest.
2. Explain Your Intentions & Motivations
Why did you decide to make an application for this company specifically? And, why do you want to pursue this career?
Make your reasons clear and be direct when explaining them.
When you can relate some of the company needs back to your intentions and motivations, it’s another good way to show your enthusiasm. It’s also a good way to add personality by showing what you can bring to the table.
3. Include Action Verbs and Power Words
These types of words can take things to the next level by making your application twice more engaging.
When action verbs and power words are used in the right context, it’s an effective strategy to engage the hiring manager within the first few seconds when they skim your application. These can also help you stand out from the crowd.
Do keep in mind though, there are a couple of words that you should keep away from. You might also find the following articles useful:
- The Top 30 Resume Buzzwords to Avoid From Over 100,000 Applications
- The Top 30 Weakest Action Verbs From 102,944 Resumes
- How to Use Resume Keywords: The Top 20 ATS Keywords
Rezi’s AI Writer Feature
Cover letters and letters of interest can help you land a new job by selling your strengths and pointing out how you’re a good fit.
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