Job seekers send a letter of interest to a business to see if any job openings are available. Unlike applying for a specific position, this type of job search gives you the opportunity to select specific organizations and express interest in working for them in any capacity. In this article, we discuss the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest, why you should create one and what to include along with tips and examples.
What is the difference between a letter of interest and a cover letter?
A cover letter is an introduction and summary to accompany your resume when applying for a job posting. It is specific to the position and highlights how your skills and experience make you the perfect candidate.
A letter of interest is used to introduce yourself to targeted companies that are not actively hiring. Although a letter of interest contains many of the same elements as a cover letter, it is a more generalized introduction of your qualities and skills. You aim to convince the reader that you'd make an excellent addition to their team.
Why would you send a letter of interest?
A letter of interest helps you get noticed by hiring managers and recruiters. It also allows you to build a relationship with an ideal employer. A letter of interest can help you secure an informational interview to learn more about the company and the desired qualities they look for when hiring.
Many companies welcome hearing from strong candidates who express interest in the organization. Due to a little healthy employment competition, large organizations usually maintain a pool of qualified applicants. When a job position opens up, they can pull from this list quickly and effectively.
One of the primary objectives of a letter of interest is that when a relevant opportunity opens up, they will think of you. And for a highly qualified and skilled job seeker, a company may even create a job position, especially if you have crafted your letter of interest to convince the organization that they need your unique skills.
What should you include in a letter of interest?
As with any professional letter, include all necessary contact information and proper formatting. Include these four important elements for an impactful letter of interest:
1. A strong introduction
Whenever possible, start your letter off with a strong introduction by including the reader's name. This creates a feeling of rapport while sparking curiosity to continue reading. Introduce yourself and why you are contacting them. If you have a mutual acquaintance, this is a great time to mention the connection. Let your personality shine by expressing what excites or intrigues you about their organization, mission and company culture.
2. Recently acquired skills
Next, include an overview of skills you have recently acquired in your most current position. Be sure to include both soft and hard skills. Soft skills are interpersonal qualities and character traits that define how you interact with others. For example, soft skills include communication, leadership, problem-solving and organizational skills. Hard skills are learned abilities and practical knowledge. For example, computer programming, marketing skills or additional certifications. Soft and hard skills complement each other to provide an employee with a well-balanced work ethic.
3. A brief overview of your experience
Now is your opportunity to highlight specific achievements from your previous experience. Be sure to emphasize how your past accomplishments would benefit the organization. Include a brief story about a project or achievement that was successful and include quantifying details. For example, writing that you increased territory sales by 15% over the past six months is much more impactful than simply stating you increased revenue for your current employer.
4. Explanation of what you can offer to the organization
Summarize your letter of interest by tying together how your skills and experience can benefit the organization and bring them closer to their goals. Use this opportunity to express your enthusiasm about their company and what they're achieving. Now is the time to include any actions you wish to take, such as following up with the recipient. Be sure to finish with a professional sign-off, including your full name and signature.
Tips for writing an effective letter of interest
Here are three tips you can employ to ensure your letter of interest captures the attention of your intended recipient.
Research the company
Understanding what the company does, who they serve and what they stand for can create a more impactful letter of interest. Do your homework and research as much about the organization as possible. Almost every organization has an online presence, so be sure to check out their website, social media presence and employee reviews to get a strong foundational understanding of the company. You can also reach out to contacts that work there to get a first-person account of what it is like to work for the business.
Having a background of the organization allows you to tailor your letter of interest specifically to their needs, customers they serve and reputation.
Get the name of the hiring manager or recruiter
If you don't already have the hiring manager or recruiter's full name, make it your mission to find out. Using the person's name shows attention to detail and creates an instant rapport. There several ways you can find this information. Check on the organization's website for a directory or Human Resources Department listing. You can also look for job postings the company has shared to see if it includes any contact information. Searching online for the company's name followed by "hiring manager" or "human resources" is likely to provide results.
Keep it professional
Be sure to keep the formatting of your letter of interest clean by using easy-to-read fonts, sizes and colours. Using a standard black font like Arial, Georgia or Times New Roman between 10 and 12 point size will ensure your letter's readability. Express your creativity in what you say, not in the letter's formatting.
Before you send your letter of interest, be sure to take a few extra minutes to proofread it. Check for punctuation, spelling and grammar, as little mistakes can take away from the positive impression you're trying to give. It's a good idea to read the letter out loud. You are more likely to catch errors that you missed on a computer screen, and reading out loud ensures that the letter flows properly.
Example of a letter of interest
Here is an example of a strong letter of interest. This can serve as inspiration when creating your customized letter of interest.
Sofia Flores *Apt. 123, 67 Street
Winnipeg, MN A1A 1A1
May 1, 2021
999 Greenback Road
Winnipeg, MN A1A 1A1
Dear Patricia Moore,
My name is Sofia Flores, and I am reaching out as a regular patron of Cloud Coffee. I love the inviting atmosphere and warm smiles I receive when arriving and can tell the team enjoys what they do. As an experienced barista, I wanted to introduce myself and explore any opportunities available for me to join your staff. I am not just another young adult looking for a job at a coffee shop. I live and breathe coffee, and I absolutely adore Cloud Coffee.
In my last position as barista for the coffee shop at Retail Ocean, I perfected our signature coffee swirl in a record two weeks. In 14 days, I learned not only to make the lattes themselves but also to craft a perfect ocean wave atop the steaming cup, and I know that I could quickly learn to prepare any foam creation for this new position. Beyond that, I would love to branch out from my coffee interests to pastries, teas and the other menu items offered at Cloud Coffee.
I am outgoing, extroverted and would easily blend with the already vibrant staff employed with Cloud Coffee. I work exceptionally well under pressure, and I can smile on cue and maintain a positive attitude during the morning and evening rushes that require a lot of multitasking. In addition to these skills, I also have a fantastic memory and have been known to memorize drink orders to faces, therefore speeding up long lines and making customers feel valued. Along with these behind-the-counter talents, I am also dedicated to tasks that aren't coffee-related. Stocking can be fun, and I would love to join the team to be the Barista you need when you need it!
Thank you so much for your consideration, and I will be following up with you next week. In the meantime, I can be reached at either email@example.com or (123) 456-7891.