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Letter of interest vs cover letter: the ultimate guide

Letter of interest vs cover letter: the ultimate guide

  • What is a letter of interest vs a cover letter?
  • How to write a letter of interest
  • 1. Research the company
  • 2. Start with an opening hook
  • 3. Demonstrate your value
  • 4. Prompt the hiring manager to contact you
  • Example letter of interest
  • How to write a cover letter
  • 1. Start by introducing yourself
  • 2. Summarize your skills and experience relevant to the job opening
  • 3. Showcase your achievements
  • 4. Include a final call to action
  • Example cover letter
  • Key takeaways

Setting yourself apart in a sea of job seekers is critical. One way to achieve this is by creating a persuasive introductory letter to the hiring manager. In our ultimate guide, we review the letter of interest vs. the cover letter and how you can use each to your advantage.

When you’re trying to find the best strategy to land a new job, you’ll be wondering what approach is going to set you apart from other applicants and get you ahead of the game. One thing that can help you get noticed is having a persuasive letter that sparks the hiring manager’s attention so they want to learn more about you.

You’ll probably be well aware of cover letters, but you may not be as familiar with their not too distant relative, the letter of interest. In this article, we’ll explore the letter of interest versus the cover letter, with examples, so you know when to use these letters and how to write them. 

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • What is a letter of interest vs. a cover letter?

  • How to write a letter of interest

  • Example letter of interest

  • How to write a cover letter

  • Example cover letter

Statistical Insight

Cover letters do still matter it seems. According to a recent Forbes article, the majority (56 percent) of employers prefer a cover letter and 45 percent or recruiters advised that not having a cover letter could result in an application being rejected.

What is a letter of interest vs a cover letter?

Knowing what is the difference between a cover letter and an LOI (letter of interest) will help you decide which one is more appropriate for you.

A letter of interest is a speculative letter that you send to a company that you would really love to work for to see if they have any existing or upcoming job opportunities. Perhaps you read in the news about a forward-thinking company in your chosen field, or someone in your network mentioned an upcoming job opening. Whatever the reason, sending a letter of interest can be a unique way to get noticed and tap into the hidden job market.

A cover letter is a brief (usually one page) letter that you write to a hiring manager that is sent with your resume for a specific job opening. This letter should outline your skills, experience, and achievements relevant to the job you’re applying for as well as showcase a little of your personality. Essentially, it should present you as the best fit for the job and company.

  • Share some of your personality in letters to employers. Show your passion and motivation and match to company culture to achieve this goal.
  • Only replicate content from your resume in your letters. A letter or interest or cover letter should reflect your voice and serve as an introduction to your resume.

How to write a letter of interest

A letter of interest is a golden opportunity to let a target company know that you want to work for them. Hiring managers are likely to be impressed by your initiative as well as your passion for their organization. 

Here’s four steps to get started:

1. Research the company

Conducting background research will help you target your letter of interest in the right direction. Review the company website, news, press releases, and social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram) to learn more about the company and its recent activities. 

Extend your research to finding the right contact at the company so you can send your letter directly to them. Sources such as LinkedIn and the company website are a great starting point, or you may secure a referral from a current employee. Failing that, you can always call the company to get the information to ensure your letter lands in the right person's inbox.

2. Start with an opening hook

Whether you’re creating a story, a social media post, or a letter of interest, one single writing principle is universal: grab the reader’s attention with a good opening line or “hook.” In your opening paragraph, introduce yourself, tell a story, or make a reference to attract attention and demonstrate how impressed you are with the company.

This is where your research will become extremely useful. Referencing any exciting news, new product launches, or mission, vision, and values that really resonate with you are all great ways to communicate your passion for the company. 

3. Demonstrate your value

Next, you’ll want to provide a short bio on your skills, experience, and accomplishments relevant to your target role and the company. Showcasing the value you can bring will pique the hiring manager’s attention and tell them that you do really want to work there.  

4. Prompt the hiring manager to contact you

Wrap up your letter of interest by thanking your contact for their time and request a meeting or informational interview. This is typically a conversation focused on your career development, but it’s a great networking tool and can get you a foot in the door.  

Expert Tip

Hiring managers are typically time-pressed, so keeping your letters short and sweet is the best approach. Try to view this through the lens of a recruiter and ask yourself, “If I was reading this, would I be interested in learning more about this person or maybe hiring them?” Stick to four short paragraphs, 250 to 400 words, and a one page letter.

Example letter of interest

Here’s an example of a compelling letter of interest that you can easily adapt to align with your unique job search:

Letter of interest example

Dear Mr. Connolly,

My name is [Your Name], and I’m writing to inquire about potential marketing opportunities. As someone who has admired your brand for years, I was particularly impressed by your recent award-winning Starlight campaign. Your mission to be fearless and creative not only sets trends but also inspires marketers like myself to exceed client expectations.

I’ve been working as a marketing associate in an agency environment for the past three years, securing top-flight skills in the areas of creative storytelling, digital campaign management, and client relations. In my last campaign for FreshStart, I increased social media engagement by 60% and boosted online sales by 40% within six months. I firmly believe that a little creativity and a touch of humor can make any campaign unforgettable.

Thank you for taking the time to review my letter. I would love the opportunity to meet for an informational interview to explore how my expertise and enthusiasm can bring value to [Company’s Name]. I look forward to the possibility of contributing to your team and helping drive your future success.


[Your Name]

How to write a cover letter

Your cover letter should follow the same format as a standard business letter and encourage the hiring manager to review your resume. 

Follow these four steps to ensure your cover letter is creative and professional:

1. Start by introducing yourself

Explain who you are and why you’re interested in the job and company. The most common problem with opening paragraphs is that they can be very generic, so once a hiring manager has read one or two, they can become instantly forgettable. Expressing your strong interest in the specific role and demonstrating that you have researched the company are two ways you can make a great first impression. 

2. Summarize your skills and experience relevant to the job opening

Outline your background relevant to the job opportunity, with particular focus on transferable skills and expertise. The job description will serve as a guide to the role’s priorities, so align your career synopsis as much as possible with the essential requirements.

3. Showcase your achievements

Your achievements are the proof that you can deliver, so including facts and figures will back up the skills and expertise you are putting forward. Focus on recent and relevant accomplishments and use bullet points to make this information stand out.

4. Include a final call to action

Your cover letter should end with a professional sign-off that inspires the reader to review your resume and get in touch. This conclusion doesn’t need to be a long paragraph. Mention that you appreciate their time and are looking forward to hearing about next steps.

Example cover letter

Here’s a sample cover letter to give you some inspiration: 

Cover letter example

Dear Ms. Rodriguez,

My name is [Your Name] and I’m excited to apply for the role of Sales Manager at ShopNow. I understand the company is launching a brand new product line, and I believe my skills in storytelling and product orientation will provide a major advantage at product launch. 

As Territory Sales Manager at Harper Smith, I was a key sales leader and successfully drove vast improvements in B2B and B2C sales as well as motivated the 50-member sales team. Prior to this, I steered direct sales, business development, and key account management for a business start-up in the FMCG sector. Some contributions include:

  • Consistently achieved 60% above average sales target in current role and recognized as top ranking converter in the last 12 months.

  • Delivered engaging and informative product training and education sessions to customers, thereby attracting clients and growing the client base by 15%.

  • Established strong client relationships, adopting a consultative approach that leads to long-lasting relationships based on trust, honesty, and integrity.

Thank you for taking the time to review my application. I look forward to learning more about the role and [Company Name]. I am focused on delivering an optimal customer experience and excited about the possibility of joining the market-leading team at ShopNow. 


[Your Name]

If you’re looking for some support in your job hunt, check out our Job Search Strategy that will help you take charge of the process from resume-writing to salary negotiation.

Key takeaways

  1. A letter of interest and cover letter give you the opportunity to introduce yourself to a hiring manager, but they have a different purpose and are used in different situations.

  2. Letters of interest are sent speculatively to a company you would love to work for. In this letter, you can highlight relevant skills, expertise, and accomplishments, as well as what inspired you to contact the organization. 

  3. Cover letters are targeted toward a specific job posting. In this letter, you need to align your skills, experience, and accomplishments with the job opening to show that you’re the perfect fit.

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