Letter of Intent vs. Cover Letter

A cover letter and a letter of intent might appear to be the same, but here are the important differences between a cover letter and letter of intent in a job application.


letter of interest vs cover letter
letter of interest vs cover letter
letter of interest vs cover letter

Letter of intent and cover letter differences

When you are looking to break the ice with hiring managers and begin a new job search, a great letter of intent or cover letter can be a wonderful way to make connections and open doors. But it’s important to know when each kind of letter is appropriate. Understanding the difference between a letter of intent and a cover letter is fundamental. This article will clearly explain the differences and similarities.


What is a letter of intent?

A letter of intent (LOI) is a professional document that declares interest or a preliminary commitment of one party to do business with another. This is a broad definition, of course, because letters of intent can be used in several situations. A letter of intent is useful:

  • Before formally agreeing to work with a potential business partner
  • When stating your interest in working for a potential employer
  • While interviewing for law or medical school positions

You may also receive a letter of intent from an academic institution, bank, or business before they finalise their decision to do business with you. When a potential employer sends you a letter of intent, it may be because they are interested in hiring you, but have several roles open and are unsure of where they wish to place you.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a professional, supplementary document that is provided in tandem with a CV as a part of a job application. Created using the same basic letter format as most business letters, this document should address the hiring manager or recruiter directly and expand on key points from a CV. The goal is to provide the hiring manager with enough information to decide whether a job seeker is right for the specific role they have applied for. Using matching CV and cover letter templates can make a job application far more professional and effective, so don’t overlook the importance of

3 main differences between a letter of intent and a cover letter

At first glance, cover letters and letters of intent may look the same, and they are both intended to make a great first impression. But there are several fundamental differences in their content and purpose. Here are the key differences between a cover letter and a letter of intent: 
Cover letters relate more to open job postings
A cover letter should be written to secure a particular job title. As such, these are more direct documents that should fill in any gaps that may be present in a CV and directly state which job title is being applied for. By contrast, a letter of intent should express general interest in working for the company, regardless of which or any specific job postings are open at that time.
Letters of intent focus on company culture
A letter of interest should showcase your knowledge of the company you are expressing interest in and state your intent to work with them if the opportunity is presented. Unlike a cover letter, which focuses on the work experience and skills of a job seeker, this type of letter should focus on your career goals. You could write a letter of intent for a specific job opening, but it is far more effective to submit a CV and cover letter with a strong call to action in this situation.

Letters of intent are broader

While cover letters are useful but narrow documents that are intended to shed light on your years of experience to gain a specific job, letters of intent are broad documents that make first contact to open a dialogue. Of course, both documents should ideally lead to follow-up discussions, but letters of intent are designed to seek a broader range of outcomes, whereas a cover letter has a singular goal.

FAQs: letter of intent vs. cover letter

Q: What are the advantages of sending a letter of intent?

A letter of intent (LOI) can help you to catch a hiring manager’s eye and build a relationship before there is a firm job posting available. Most available jobs are not publicly advertised on job sites, and many are filled as a result of professional and personal networks. A letter of intent could help you gain access to the opportunities that don’t make it to job sites.

Q: What do cover letters and letters of intent have in common?

There are many similarities between a letter of intent and a cover letter, but there is one key difference. A letter of intent can be sent when there is no specific job listing. This means it can be used in a unique way, as part of a proactive job search. By sending a letter of interest or intent along with a CV to a company you wish to work with, you stand a chance of being contacted when a space does open up. Writing a cover letter requires more discussion of your professional experience and achievements. In short, a letter of intent is about the future, while a cover letter showcases your past. Remember that both documents should include personalised salutations and address the hiring manager directly.

Q: Where can I find free cover letter templates?

If you want to create a unique and eye-catching cover letter, then you should not just consider looking at cover letter examples for inspiration. If you want to get started right away you can utilise the free cover letter templates available via the CVHelp cover letter builder.


Move your cover letter to the top of the yes pile!

Get Started

We personalize your experience.

We use cookies in our website to ensure we give you the best experience, get to know our users and deliver better marketing. For this purpose, we may share the information collected with third parties. By clicking “Allow cookies” you give us your consent to use all cookies. If you prefer to manage your cookies click on the “Manage cookies” link below.

Manage Cookies