Having a well-written cover letter is essential to your job search, but how does a cover letter differ from a letter of interest (also known as a letter of intent)? Cover letters are tailored to specific jobs, and letters of interest are essentially “prospecting” letters. There are more similarities than differences, but make sure to choose the correct document when submitting your resume to prospective employers.
Similarities: Cover letters and letters of intent/interest both highlight your relevant skill-set, often including specific achievements or experiences from your career. Both documents introduce your resume and grab the attention of potential employers while complying with common formatting standards.
Differences: Cover letters, unlike letters of intent/interest, are tailored to specific (often advertised) open employment positions. For instance, if you find a job listed on an online job site, you would use a cover letter to apply for the job. Letters of interest, however, are used when you are inquiring about employment possibilities, regardless of any current job openings. A letter of interest focuses on your interest in a particular company, highlights your skill-set, and then states that you are interested in employment with the company with the hope that they contact you with a job offer.
When browsing job postings online, some companies will (incorrectly) ask you to submit a “letter of interest/intent” which simply means to submit a cover letter. If they have jobs posted online, you do not need to “ask” them if they have openings, so submit a cover letter tailored to the job posting.
By Drew Roark