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Letter of Interest vs Cover Letter: What’s the Difference?

Letter of Interest vs Cover Letter: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest? When should you use each one? Each business letter has a specific use, format, and guidelines to follow.

Is a letter of interest the same as a cover letter? When should you use each one? Get it wrong, and you’ll be fudging it. Like using the wrong bait on the fishing trip, you might get a few nibbles, but your competitors will land the massive lunkers. So—don’t get it wrong.

 

The short answer? A letter of interest is like a cold call. It’s for jobs that don’t exist. A cover letter goes with a job application. It’s for jobs a company is aggressively trying to fill. But be careful to follow the key steps for each letter type.

 

This guide will show you:

  • A sample cover letter and/or letter of interest you can adjust to fit your job search.
  • How to write a letter of interest or cover letter for a job that lifts you above the fray.
  • The three main parts that make a letter of interest and cover letter work.
  • Some key letter of interest and cover letter tips that make your job search work.

 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

 

sample resume and cover letter set

Sample Cover Letter for a Resume—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

 

Are you looking for a specific job search letter? Need more cover letter and letter of interest templates? See these guides:

 

Letter of Interest vs Cover Letter

 

A cover letter goes with your resume in a job application, but a letter of interest is for jobs that aren’t advertised. A letter of interest is more exploratory, and must pay special attention to the company and its needs. That almost always means doing deeper research and even informational interviews.

 

To write a working letter of interest, find out what the company needs and how you fit. Cover letters are similar, but they can mention the job ad and the interview process more overtly.

 

The good news? You can learn to write the perfect LOI or cover letter in a few minutes.

 

Let’s leave the other applicants in the dust with template letters you can use. We’ve highlighted the differences between each letter type in green below. You’ll notice that the cover letter has an optional paragraph in yellow. Cover letters can be longer, with more achievements.

 

Letter of Interest Template

 

Haley Keuren

Copywriter

East Poultney, VT

802-399-0453

haley@keuren.io

linkedin.com/in/haleykeuren

 

8/13/20

 

Kathy StClair

Human Resources 

Silver Dragon Content

3431 Fraggle Drive

New York, NY 10045

 

Dear Ms. StClair,

 

As a B2B healthcare copywriter with seven years of experience writing for brands like Fitbit, WebMD, and UnderArmor, I was excited to come across your agency in a recent Advertising Age article. Your approach to building remote teams is unique, and it made me want to reach out to offer my copywriting services.

 

I write over 600,000 words a year of both blog posts and website copy for clients like AARP, RetailMeNot, and Care.com. I work extensively with Blue Content Lizard Agency and Ruffled Hippo to deliver high-quality copy for over 50 high-profile clients. I received Ruffled Hipp’s internal “Platinum Pen Award” three times, and was asked to train 15 copywriters in two training sessions last month.

 

I’d value the opportunity to speak with you about how my writing and interpersonal skills would make me a valued member of your team. Would it be possible to set up a time next week to chat?

 

Best regards,

 

Haley Keuren

Copywriter

802-399-0453

haley@keuren.io

 

 

Cover Letter Template

 

Haley Keuren

Copywriter

East Poultney, VT

802-399-0453

haley@keuren.io

linkedin.com/in/haleykeuren

 

8/13/20

 

Kathy StClair

Human Resources

Silver Dragon Content

3431 Fraggle Drive

New York, NY 10045

 

Dear Ms. StClair,

 

As a B2B healthcare copywriter with seven years of experience writing for brands like Fitbit, WebMD, and UnderArmor, I was excited to see your job posting for a remote copywriter on LinkedIn. I came across Silver Dragon Content in a recent Advertising Age article and I like your approach to building remote teams. I know you’re looking for a writer in the healthcare space who can write both blogs and landing pages as well as train new hires. I think you’ll like my resume based on a few highlights below.

 

I write over 600,000 words a year of both blog posts and website copy for clients like AARP, RetailMeNot, and Care.com. I work extensively with Blue Content Lizard Agency and Ruffled Hippo to deliver high-quality copy for over 50 high-profile clients. I also received Ruffled Hipp’s internal “Platinum Pen Award” three times, and was asked to train 15 copywriters in two training sessions last month.

 

I also came up with 20+ ideas to update our branding and style guidelines, with 80% of them implemented by management. The result was 30% less time spent on rework by editors. I’ve also streamlined the editor/copywriter communication process to ensure 50% less handholding than other copywriters in surveys of the agencies I work for.

 

I’d value the opportunity to speak with you about how my writing and interpersonal skills would make me a valued member of your team. Would it be possible to set up a time next week to chat?

 

Best regards,

 

Haley Keuren

Copywriter

802-399-0453

haley@keuren.io

 

What makes that letter of interest and cover letter different? Let’s get into that below.

 

Difference Between a Cover Letter and a Letter of Interest

 

The differences between a cover letter and a letter of interest are few, but they’re important. Since a letter of interest or LOI is for jobs that aren’t advertised, it can’t refer to a job offer. A letter of interest also relies more on what you like about the company, especially in the first paragraph.

 

Here are the main differences between a letter of interest and a cover letter:

 

1. A letter of interest is for jobs not advertised

 

When you need a job, but you can’t find one in the job search sites, that’s when you need an LOI. A letter of interest is a proactive way to ask if a company is hiring. But it can’t just ask. That’s needy. It has to offer something—like eye-popping achievements in key skill areas.

 

2. A cover letter mentions the job offer in paragraph #1

 

The biggest technical difference between a cover letter and an LOI is in paragraph #1. Let’s compare:

 

Letter of Interest vs Cover Letter [1st Paragraph Examples]

 

Letter of Interest Paragraph #1

 

As a B2B healthcare copywriter with seven years of experience writing for brands like Fitbit, WebMD, and UnderArmor, I was excited to come across your agency in a recent Advertising Age article. Your approach to building remote teams is unique, and it made me want to reach out to offer my copywriting services.

 

Cover Letter Paragraph #1

 

As a B2B healthcare copywriter with seven years of experience writing for brands like Fitbit, WebMD, and UnderArmor, I was excited to see your job posting for a remote copywriter on LinkedIn. I came across Silver Dragon Content in a recent Advertising Age article and I like your approach to building remote teams. I know you’re looking for a writer in the healthcare space who can write both blogs and landing pages as well as train new hires. I think you’ll like my resume based on a few highlights below.

 

Notice how the cover letter has a longer first paragraph. It mentions the job ad. Then it describes the perfect employee to show you know your stuff.

 

An LOI can’t start with the job offer and it can’t mention details from it. It should start with a unique fact about the company that makes you like them. Why? Because detailed praise is a great way to get the manager feeling good about you.

 

3. Letters of interest are shorter and punchier

 

LOIs are shorter than cover letters because there’s no hiring context. With a cover letter, the manager knows she posted a job ad. With a letter of interest, she thinks, “What’s this?” If your letter is too long, she’ll think, “Ugh. I don’t know what this is and I don’t have time for it.”

 

A cover letter can be 3 to 5 paragraphs long. An LOI is 3 short, zippy paragraphs. Make it easy for the manager to understand its purpose at a glance.

 

4. LOIs need more research

 

LOIs rely even more than cover letters on tailoring your achievements to the job. If you do your research well, you can describe the perfect employee in your LOI. But that comes down to how much you want the job and how much time you’re willing to spend on research.

 

If you really want the job, reach out to a few employees at the company on LinkedIn. Talk to a few employees in the job you want about what they do all day. How do you approach them? By saying, “Hey, I saw that you’re an XYZ specialist at ABC Company. Your job seems really cool. Can I ask a couple questions about it?”

 

Once you know their challenges and duties, you know which of your achievements to mention in your LOI.

 

You can also learn about the perfect employee by:

 

  1. Talking to managers at the organization.
  2. Looking at old archived job offers there.
  3. Reading through the company’s website.
  4. Skimming threads written by employees there on Reddit.

Pro Tip: About 70% of jobs aren’t advertised. You’ll maximize your chance of getting hired by writing both cover letters and letters of interest.

How to Write a Cover Letter

 

Writing a cover letter is both easy and necessary. But—like anything else, if you’ve never done it before, you can botch it badly without a plan. To write a great cover letter, look at some tried and tested samples. Then write your own letter according to the right steps, with a focus on achievement.

 

To write your cover letter:

 

  1. Select a professional cover letter format.
  2. Research the company to know what they want.
  3. Scan your past achievements to find ways you fit.
  4. Write a strong cover letter opening with a magnetic hook.
  5. Add 1–2 middle paragraphs with 3–5 resume accomplishments.
  6. Finish with a call-to-action in your cover letter ending.

Wan the full lowdown? See this guide: How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job

How to Write a Letter of Interest

 

To write a letter of interest, just modify your cover letter. Trim it to three paragraphs and snip out anything about the job ad. Then add a little bit about what moved you to write to them. Usually that’s something you really love about the company. If you don’t have a cover letter, start from scratch.

Need the nitty-gritty on how to write an LOI? See our guide: Letter of Interest for a Job: Sample & Guide

Letter of Intent vs Letter of Interest

 

Some people confuse “letter of intent” and “letter of interest.” A letter of intent is just a cover letter by another name. If you’ve been asked to write a letter of intent, submit your standard cover letter. So we’re right back to the same old “letter of intent vs cover letter” question.

Read more: What is a Letter of Intent? Examples

Key Takeaway

 

Cover letter vs letter of interest:

  • A cover letter is for advertised jobs. A letter of interest is for jobs that don’t exist or haven’t been advertised.
  • An LOI is shorter, with a brief three paragraphs.
  • Cover letters mention the job ad and requirements in paragraph #1. Letters of interest focus instead on good things about the business.
  • Letters of interest require more research than cover letters to uncover the traits of the company’s perfect employee.

 

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

 

Questions? Concerns? We’re here for you. If you’re still fuzzy on the difference between a cover letter and letter of interest, drop me a line in the comments. 

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Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Tom Gerencer, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), is a career expert who has published over 200 in-depth articles on Zety. Since 2016, he has been sharing advice on all things recruitment from writing winning resumes and cover letters to getting a promotion.
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