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Advice / Job Search / Cover Letters

What’s a Letter of Interest and How’s It Different From a Cover Letter?

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As if the job search needed more confusing terms and jargon, it turns out there are multiple kinds of letters you might need to write. There are cover letters and letters of interest?

Yes, yes there are. They’re both letters you’d send to companies you’re interested in working for, but otherwise there are some key differences.

Read on to learn what those differences are and how to write each kind—with examples.

Letter of interest vs. cover letter

So what’s the difference between a letter of interest and the probably-more-familiar cover letter?

Basically, a cover letter targets a specific job opening and a letter of interest (sometimes called a letter of intent) expresses a desire to work for a specific company even though you haven’t seen a job posting that would be right for you.

A cover letter:

  • Is written to apply to a known open position
  • Expresses enthusiasm for the open job
  • Focuses on what you’d bring to a specific role
  • Talks about how your skills and experience line up with the job
  • Usually accompanies a resume and/or other application materials

A letter of interest:

  • Is not in response to a specific job posting or opening
  • Expresses a desire to work for the company more broadly
  • Focuses how you can contribute to the organization
  • Talks about your skills and experiences and how you might be able to help the company
  • Does not always include your resume

So if there’s a company you’d love to work for and you think your skills would be valuable to them, you don’t necessarily need to wait around for the perfect job opening. You can send a letter of interest. But if said company has posted a job that lines up with your qualifications, a cover letter is the way to go.

How to write a cover letter

If you’ve decided to go with a cover letter, here are a few basic steps:

  1. Write a strong, relevant-to-the-job, cover letter opening that will hook your reader and tell them why you’re applying for this position and/or are interested in this organization.
  2. Identify three to five key qualifications. Read over the job description and look for skills, experiences, or other qualifications that you possess. Choose the ones that most show that you’d be great at this job to highlight in your cover letter.
  3. Write about these qualifications. Demonstrate your abilities and knowledge with brief examples from your career. Don’t forget to include the results of your work and as many numbers as possible to show the reader what you can do for their company.
  4. Wrap up with a strong conclusion that reiterates your excitement for the role and key qualifications.

Read More: Your Complete Guide to Writing a Cover Letter (Plus Bonus Tips and Examples)

Cover letter example

Here’s a sample of what your cover letter might look like.

Hello Connie,

When I saw the posting for the Program Manager position at Vaxx America, I was immediately drawn to your mission of increasing vaccination rates and public health knowledge. Vaxx America’s two-pronged approach of combatting disinformation while creating easy opportunities to get vaccinated is exactly what our society needs right now. As someone from a small town with dismal COVID vaccination rates, I’ve seen many old friends and family members buy into disinformation and end up seriously ill. I’d love to bring my experience as an event coordinator for health-focused nonprofits and passion for this cause to your company.

For the past two years, I’ve worked as an event coordinator for SexEdU, where I booked spaces for events on over 100 college campuses; coordinated communications between the organization and different schools; and planned, managed, and coordinated all logistics for education, health screening, vaccination, and other events offered through the organization. I worked on a total of 130 events in two years that provided services for over 100,000 attendees.

Recently, I filled in for a program manager who oversees the org’s free on-campus health screening program while they were out for surgery, and successfully ran the marketing campaigns for their upcoming event and drew in over 200 students for free STD testing—and booked a follow-up event on the spot. Through these experiences, I worked closely with the program managers and saw what goes into their jobs day-to-day and I’d love to take the next step in my career at your organization.

We need Vaxx America right now, and I’d love to be part of the organization’s invaluable efforts. I’d be honored to bring my event coordination and program management experience to your team.


Allan Peng

How to write a letter of interest

  1. Address your letter to the likely hiring manager for the department you’d most want to join.
  2. Open strong. Start with what stands out most to you about the company and why you’d like to work with them. Show that you’ve done your research by bringing in specific details about their story, their products, their strategies, or anything they’ve been in the news or on social media for.
  3. Briefly introduce yourself as a professional. Highlight the skills and experiences that would be most valuable to the company.
  4. Write about a few ways you can help the organization. Connect your skills to things that the company is working on or struggling with.
  5. Close with an invitation to talk more about what you can bring to their company.
  6. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile and/or a personal website or portfolio so they can learn more about you.

Read More: Ever Heard of a Letter of Interest? It Could Score You a Job at Your Dream Company

Letter of interest example

Dear Connie,

As an experienced nonprofit event coordinator and someone from a severely under-vaccinated hometown, I’ve been following Vaxx America from its beginnings. (I was even your Twitter account’s 200th follower!) Your founder’s heartbreaking story about losing a parent to COVID-19 when the vaccine was readily available hit close to home. I unfortunately lost several childhood and family friends the same way. What you all are doing to combat disinformation and make vaccination easy is exactly what the country needs right now—and I’d love to be part of it.

I’m Allan Peng, a versatile event planner for a public-health nonprofit who would love to make the transition into program management. I’ve coordinated more than a hundred health-related events, including some that offered on-site healthcare screenings and HPV vaccinations. I’ve also successfully marketed these events.

I know the ins and outs of pitching, coordinating, and running events on college campuses—which I saw was a key area of interest at Vaxx America. I have contacts in the student health, athletics, and other departments at over 100 schools from my previous work, and I can help you through the process of bringing healthcare providers to a college campus.

I’m also interested in contributing to your content and marketing team. I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with loved ones and acquaintances about vaccine hesitancy and I’m familiar with the underlying reasons and the sources of disinformation they turn to. I think my insight would be valuable as you create informational materials for this group of people—particularly those in religious communities.

I’d love to have an opportunity to learn more about your organization, as well as your short- and long-term goals and challenges. I can also share some more specifics on how I can help you branch out onto college campuses.

Thank you for your time, and please let me know if there’s any additional information I can provide for you.


Allan Peng