The difference between cover letter, motivation letter and letter of interest
The difference between cover letter, motivation letter and letter of interest

The difference between cover letter, motivation letter and letter of interest

Have you ever thought about the different types of formal letter that exist in the world of… letters? Do you consider better understanding of the content, format, length and relevance of your next writing for a future job or university application? If the answers are yes, then prepare to learn more about the differences between three of the most confusing and problematic letters relevant to the educational and professional environments.

What is a cover letter?

In the majority of cases, the cover letter is generally mistaken for being a synonym of a motivation letter. However, it contrasts notably upon a more detailed breakdown. And to start it off, did you know that one of the most distinguishing features of the cover letter is the often mandatory requirement for one? This is because cover letters are mainly used for job applications – where there is a need of a more convincing and personal document attached to the CV.

Furthermore, a cover letter can also be seen as an advertisement of your experiences, skills and possibilities, which is the reason why it also plays a decisive role in many professional outcomes. It allows more freedom for describing the motives behind your choice of a specific job position and ultimately, rewards with the opportunity of stepping out of the crowd with proof that you are the perfect candidate.

Finally, a strong cover letter is no longer than half a page containing personal details (address, name, e-mail, etc.) in the beginning and a strong statement with an expectation of a positive outcome as a conclusion. As for the middle, this is the space left for your most important accomplishments regarding relevant areas that you might want to point out – career experience, education, research or personal skills. To top it off, make sure to provide strong facts whenever possible, while keeping it clean and short. “Times New Roman” is a font you might want to consider set at  size 12 with a line spacing of 1.5 and justified text setting.

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What is a motivation letter?

Up next, there is the motivation letter, that can show us some of the first actual differences as a strong example. Unlike the cover letter, here it is not possible to talk about any mandatory requirements as there is rather an optional pattern. To put it simply, a motivation letter is vastly used for university admission, which does not always include a compulsory preparation of such a writing.

Additionally, the main idea behind this type of letter is to provide with more insights and reasons behind a given study application, which is more or less the same story as in the cover letter. But then again, the length, styling and structure of content are entirely different, as the motivation letter focuses more on past study achievements and experiences that have led to inspiration for future new ones.

And with that being said, you would be nicely surprised to know that the MASTER and MORE editing team has previously prepared a dedicated article on how to write an outstanding motivation letter for your Masters! It can provide a helping hand and a full explanation of the more complex nature of motivation letters, including excellent examples of how to implement study accomplishments, interests and ideas for the best impression in the eyes of the academic committees.

What is a letter of interest?

Lastly, we reach the waters of the final formal letter that we will be looking at today – the letter of interest. Unlike the other two, here we have no specific job position or study programme that the writing will be trying to revolve around. Instead, for a brief moment, imagine that there is a business company that you have always wanted to be a part of – either because of the field, income, professional development, or whatever other reason.

Well then, it would be quite disappointing to find out that there are currently no open job positions, right? No worries, that is exactly when the idea behind the letter of interest steps in; it allows an actual introduction to a prospective employer, that can lead to future employment given that your experience, talents and skills are some that are sought after.

Within the length of one page, a standard letter of interest illustrates contact information on the top, a brief story about your personal awareness and knowledge of the company, followed by a few self-marketing paragraphs and finally, a hopeful ending imposing a probability of receiving a phone call or being invited for an interview. Overall, there are many similarities reminding of the cover letter with the important clarification that letters of interest usually remain in a digital form since they get sent by e-mail or set visible on platforms such as LinkedIn.


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