Cover letters and letters of interest seem to have similar functions. Both are used by prospective job applicants to make initial connect with a potential employer. However, the specific purposes, content and timing of each type of letter is very distinct. Knowing how to create the right letter based on your situation in the job search process is important.
A cover letter is typically used when contacting a hiring manager about your interest and qualifications for a specific job. A letter of interest, often called an inquiry, can be written by a college student looking for an internship opportunity or trying to find out about potential jobs with employers upon graduation. Working professionals use a letter of interest to feel out opportunities for positions at other companies.
A cover letter usually includes content specific to the job you target, whereas a letter of intent is more an overview of your background and mentions your interests. In a cover letter, you generally begin by stating your recognition of the company and the specific needs of the position. You then lay out how your accomplishments and experiences fit well with those critical job requirements. In a letter of interest, you share education or work experience, depending on your situation, and indicate why you want to know about opportunities with the company.
A cover letter is written in response to a specific job posting. Your cover letter is normally submitted along with your resume, application and other materials requested by the hiring manager. A letter of interest is sent to a company without acknowledging a specific position. Instead, the interest letter is a lead into potential discussions about possible openings now or in the future.
The timing of the letters is distinct as well. You can send a letter of interest while still in college in the case of seeking an internship. As a worker, you can send a letter of interest anytime you want to learn about a company's opportunities. A cover letter is sent in the midst of a job search when you actively apply for certain positions. Effective cover letters should target the needs of each particular employer and job. Letters of interest are more often written similarly if you send them to multiple companies. Each generally outlines your background and interests. Whichever letter you write, customization is important to impacting a hiring manager.
About the Author
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.
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Updated on February 14, 2018
As a job seeker, both a cover letter and a letter of interest are valuable tools at your disposal to find the job you want. What is the difference between these two types of letters, however? This article will help explain.
A cover letter is a letter attached to a job application that introduces the applicant and the applicant’s interest in the posting to which they are applying, briefly summarizes his or her qualifications and experience, and gives the employer a way to contact the applicant should they be selected for an interview. A cover letter accompanies a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) which further highlight the applicant’s qualifications. Cover letters are written specifically for postings in which an applicant is interested. Writing a cover letter is like saying, in a much more formal way of course, “Hello, here is an introduction of who I am, here’s the position I am applying for, here are some of the reasons I am a good candidate for this position, here is how I can be contacted, and here is my resume/CV for further information.” It is good practice to thank the recipient for reading the letter in its conclusion.
A letter of interest is a letter sent to a company or organization indicating a job seeker’s interest in working for that company. Letters of interest are not sent for particular positions, but to a company as a whole, expressing interest in working for that company, and inquiring as to whether or not there are positions available at said company. Letters of interest also highlight the qualifications and experience that the job seeker believes will indicate his suitability at a certain company. Writing a letter of interest is like saying, “Hello, here is an introduction of who I am; here is why I am interested in working for you. Here are some reasons why I believe I would make a good employee at your company, and I am wondering if there are any positions available that my skills would be suitable for. If so, here is how to contact me.” Letters of interest can be sent on their own and do not need to be accompanied by a resume or CV, though it is good practice to accompany a letter of interest with a resume or CV.
|Cover Letter||Letter of Interest|
|Expresses interest in a specific job posting.||Expresses interest in working for the company.|
|There is already a job available, and the cover letter is applying to this job.||Asks as to whether or not there are jobs available at this company.|
|Always needs a resume or CV.||Does not always need a resume or CV, but it is a good idea to attach a resume or CV.|
Cover Letter vs Letter of Interest
What are the differences between a cover letter and a letter of interest? The main differences are:
- The thing to which interest is being indicated
- Whether or not a resume or CV needs to be attached
Cover letters express interest in a specific job posting. A cover letter will indicate the specific job posting to which the job seeker is applying, the seeker’s interest therein, and the job seeker’s skills and qualifications relevant for this position. A letter of interest, however, does not apply to a specific job posting. It instead seeks interest in working for a specific company.
Cover letters always need a resume or CV attached, because they are introducing an application to a job. Letters of interest can have resumes or CVs attached, but they can also be sent alone. It is not necessary to attach a resume to a letter of interest, though it is more appropriate to do so.