According to Zety, a service that creates professional communication templates, you use a cover letter to accompany your resume when you’re applying to a specific job, and use a letter of interest to put yourself forward for a job that isn’t advertised. Essentially, you’re pitching yourself to a company of interest, telling them your qualifications, and hoping they’ll identify a spot for you instead of waiting around for them to post an opening that aligns with your skills and experience.
Letters of interest are also helpful when someone has tipped you off to an opening that hasn’t yet been made public, according to Indeed. The goal is to introduce yourself to hiring managers and get your talents on their radar, even if it means they only keep you in mind for future opportunities.
A cover letter is reserved for when a specific job is available, so it might get you more immediate results. A letter of interest, on the other hand, could take months for results — but will help those in charge of hiring find a job that’s just right for you, should one become available.
What to include in a letter of interest
Your letter of interest should be full of background information highlighting why you’d be a great fit for the company. Unlike with cover letters, you won’t have a clear job posting or description of what the company wants right now, so you should first research the organisation and identify what they do well, what they could use help with, and how your specific talents fit in somewhere. During your research, be sure to identify the most likely hiring manager, recruiter, or the manager of the team you want to be on, and address the letter to them.
Introduce yourself briefly by sharing your name and a one- or two-sentence description of your background. Then explain why you’re writing to that specific company. Share specific things about the organisation that appeal to you, and then explain how you fit into what you described, sharing your experience, skills, training, and interests. If your research turned up anything about the company culture, describe how you’ll fit in and what benefits you’ll add. Finally, end your letter with a request for an informal interview. Having a chat with the hiring managers or recruiters will help them get to know you and better ensure you stick in their memory in case a job opens up in the future.
Like a cover letter, it shouldn’t exceed one page and should include your contact details. Also like a cover letter, you should try to make it as specific to the company as possible and not use a boilerplate template. In fact, in this instance, you should be even more specific about your interest in the company. Make sure you point out the details about the organisation that interest and excite you, so they know you did your research.