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What Is a Letter of Interest When Applying for a Job?

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A letter of interest is actually a prospecting letter that you send to inquire about potential positions rather than to apply for a specific one. It is sometimes confused with a cover letter, which is a letter that you send along with a resume to apply for a specific job posting.


The main purpose of a letter of interest is to inquire about job opportunities with potential employers who may or may not have posted any job openings. Sending this type of letter is a good way to show initiative to a prospective employer -- and gain initial footing in a fresh or pending job search. In smaller companies, a letter of interest may get the attention of a company president or hiring manager who might decide to meet you just to talk and see what you have to offer.


The target of a letter of interest is ideally the hiring manager who leads a company or department in which you have a special interest. It only makes sense to use this prospecting tool if you have a strong desire to work for the recipient or find out about opportunities with the company or within a specific department. Otherwise, you might as well network and review job postings to pursue career opportunities that are already posted and available.


A letter of interest appears somewhat similar to a cover letter at first glance. In fact, colleges and employers sometimes use these terms synonymously. However, a letter of interest usually includes more information about you as the candidate, whereas a cover letter centers more on the job and your qualifications for that job. In a letter of interest, you typically would include your motive for sending the letter, express your interest in the company, note your current education or employment status and request a meeting or interview to discuss opportunities with the company. A professional format, proper header and signature lines, accurate spelling and grammar are all essential if you want serious consideration.

Company versus Job

A key difference with the letter of interest versus a cover letter is its emphasis on a potential employer, not a specific position. While you may convey your qualities and career interests, you write the letter based on a desire to work for a particular employer. It is more of an exploration of opportunities based on your familiarity, comfort and appreciation for what a company does, its culture and other factors you admire.


About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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