Cover Letter or Letter of Interest – What’s the Difference?

Career Blog Jill-Klees

Here is a question I received from a student:

I am graduating this term and am applying for library jobs in all sorts of different libraries. I have noticed that most academic library jobs request a letter of interest not a cover letter. I have done some research and come across conflicting information about a letter of interest. Can you summarize what you think a letter of interest is and how it differs from a cover letter?

This is a great question. The term Letter of Interest is confusing for many students. In my opinion, it is much like a cover letter but it allows you to write in more detail. You want to express specifically WHY you are interested in this particular position and identify WHY you are the best candidate i.e.: how your skills and qualifications are a perfect match for the position.

Here is a web site I found that gives some basic tips about writing a Letter of Interest that you might find helpful: http://www.letterwritingguide.com/interest.htm

Here are some additional tips I pulled from another web site:

  • The letter of interest introduces you and your background of professional skills to the prospective employer.
  • The letter of interest is the first thing an employer is going to read, so it needs to be clear, concise, to the point, and eye catching.

The letter of interest has several purposes:

  • to convince the employer that you have the best skills, qualifications, and job experience to be the perfect candidate for the position;
  • to convince the employer to read your resume; and
  • to convince the employer that it would be very worthwhile to invite you for interview.

So before you begin writing your Letter of Interest, find out as much as possible about the company to which you are writing your letter, identify their mission and goals, and become familiar with the products or services they offer. Then, weave your knowledge of that information into your letter.

I would like to read your comments on writing a Letter of Interest.