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What Is the Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter?
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
- Resume vs. Cover Letter
What a Resume Includes
What a cover letter includes.
- Use a Cover Letter to be Subjective
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What's the difference between a resume and a cover letter? Both a cover letter and a resume share the common purpose of proving that you have the right skills to excel at the job for which you are applying.
However, there are clear distinctions between the structure and intent of the two documents. Job seekers should view their cover letter and resume as a complementary but unique pair of documents. That is, your cover letter should be more than just bullet points regurgitated from the resume.
Many employers require that a resume is submitted with a job application.
A cover letter may not be required. But, including one when you apply for a job can help your chances of getting selected for an interview.
The Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter
You can think of your resume as a general summary of your work experience and your cover letter as a summary of your work experience as it relates to the job at hand.
A resume is a document that itemizes your employment history. It summarizes the jobs you have held, the education you have attained, certifications, skills, and other quantifiable information about your background and work experience.
The most common resume format is a list with your contact information, and experience section that includes job titles, position descriptions, dates of employment, an education section, and other relevant information.
Typically, a resume is written in the third person and uses as few words as possible to summarize the experience. So, instead of writing "I supervised the large buying team at XYZ company" a resume would have a bullet point that says, "Supervised 19-person buying team."
Whenever possible, you'll want to use numbers on your resume, such as the number of people you supervised, percent sales increased, the number of customers helped, etc.
A cover letter is written to highlight the qualifications you have for the job for which you are applying. It is used to provide the employer with additional information as to why you are a good candidate for the job. The main function of your cover letter is to show off how your qualification makes you a match for the job.
A cover letter is written in a letter format including a salutation, several paragraphs, and a closing. Unlike a resume, you should use the first-person to write your cover letter . (That said, avoid using "I" too much.)
Your resume should provide employers with a detailed list of your work experience and education. The skills and accomplishments associated with each job you have held should be described in enough detail to show employers how you have added value in those specific roles.
Often, resumes provide information in bulleted lists; this helps make the document concise and allows recruiters to scan through it quickly.
A cover letter is a short three or four paragraph document. It should be written with the assumption that employers will consult your resume to match it to the statement you are making in the letter about your qualifications.
A cover letter will help employers to interpret your background as represented on the resume and will help prove how your previous experiences qualify you for a job.
When you are writing a cover letter for a job, first review the job requirements that are detailed in the job posting. Use your cover letter to explain how you meet those criteria.
Use a Cover Letter to Convey Subjective Information
A resume states the facts – who, what, when, and how. In contrast, a cover letter provides an opportunity to explain why you are qualified for the job. This document adds a bit of color and personality and is intended to persuade employers that you're a good fit for the position at hand.
A cover letter is a better vehicle than a resume to convey more subjective information like the basis of your interest in a position, how your values motivate you to pursue a job, or why the culture of a company appeals to you.
Your cover letters will help you sell your qualifications to prospective employers while your resume provides the details to back up the information included in your letters.
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Cover Letter vs Resume: 7 Key Differences and the Art of Writing Them (+Examples)
- Nikoleta Kuhejda ,
- September 24, 2020 7 min read
Last edit September 24, 2020
Here's an idea: the resume vs cover letter is a lot like salt vs pepper. Let me explain.
Your resume is like salt — it's a key ingredient required to prepare any dish. Or in this case, to score a job.
The cover letter, on the other hand, is like pepper — you use it to give your dish (your resume) a bit more flavor.
But in the end, salt and pepper work best when used together. Because of that, it might seem a bit silly to compare the two. Let's do it anyway!
Let’s start with an infographic that shows the key differences between the two.
What is a resume?
Resume is the most common career document that job seekers use. If you’re going to apply for a job, you'll be required to provide one.
In the simplest terms, the resume is a concise summary of your education, work history, skills, credentials and achievements . It gives hiring managers a rough idea about who you are as a professional, what’s your work history and your key achievements.
It’s usually one page long and written in chronological order.
But in general, you have three options to choose from — besides chronological, there’s also functional or hybrid resume format . It’s up to you to figure out which one works the best for you.
What should a resume include?
- Contact information: Your resume should begin with your contact details. Add your full name, title, address (optional), email address and phone number. In some countries, it's also common to include birthdate, nationality and photo.
- Professional summary or resume objective : Describe yourself in three sentences. Open with your job title and highlight your key skills and qualifications.
- Work experience: The most important part of your resume. List relevant work history in reverse chronological order. Add 3-5 bullet points under each entry to describe your key achievements.
- Education: If you’re a seasoned professional, it’s enough for you to mention your highest degree and school name. If you’re a student or a fresh graduate, feel free to include more details like relevant coursework, grants, or extracurricular activities.
- Skills: Pick relevant skills and divide them into several subsections like computer skills, soft skills, languages, and others.
- Additional sections: Certifications, courses, awards, strengths, publications, conferences, hobbies, social media, references, etc. All of these are voluntary.
If you're not sure what to write in specific sections of your resume, you can just check our step-by-step resume guide .
But if you prefer watching videos to reading, you might also like this 5-minute video guide to writing the perfect resume.
What is a cover letter?
Also something that you use to help you get a job… But!
Firstly, it's not always required.
Secondly, even if it is, it only provides additional information to your resume and should never repeat the same content.
I t allows you to explain other things that are impossible to express through the resume, such as :
- explanation why you’re applying for the position
- supporting evidence to why you’d make a good fit
- examples how you can be beneficial to the company
- details about employment gap or less work experience
- your personal story
- your motivation and ambitions
You normally attach it along with your resume and it serves as your introduction to a hiring manager. The ideal cover letter length is 3-4 paragraphs.
What should a cover letter include?
- Date and contact information: List your contact details such as full name, title, email, phone number, address (optional), and the date at the top of the page. Also, add company’s information such as name of the company, department and address.
- Headline: Use numbers, questions, or interesting adjectives. Something like "5 Ways I Can Help You Improve Your Company’s Marketing."
- Personalized greeting: Research the hiring manager's name online — LinkedIn is the perfect tool for this. If you fail to find it, use “ Dear Sir/Madam” .
- 1st Paragraph: Introduction: Use this space to introduce yourself in more detail and explain why this job is exciting to you.
- 2nd Paragraph: Why you’re a great fit: Write a short summary of your career and skills, and tailor it to fit the company's needs.
- 3rd Paragraph: Why the company is a great fit for you: Let them know why do they appeal to you. What excites you about working there? What do you want to learn?
- Closing paragraph: Finish strong and repeat why you’re a great fit (points 5 and 6). Also, explain how and when you’re going to contact them.
- Signature: Use a formal sign-off like " Yours faithfully" (US English) or " Yours sincerely" (British English) + your full name.
Take the readers on an exciting journey, don't tell them what they already know! Just try to answer the basic questions: Why you? Why this company? Why this role?
7 differences between the cover letter and resume
Type of document: When you’re applying for a job, you're normally asked to provide a resume. That’s a basic document hiring managers use to filter job candidates. On the other hand, cover letters, while often required, are sometimes optional. This depends on the requirements for the specific job.
Purpose: The purpose of your resume is to summarize your work history and qualifications. Whereas the main purpose of your cover letter is to sell those qualifications. It should introduce yourself to the hiring manager and show how your experience and skills make you a great match for the job.
Content: Your resume should contain key information about your work history and professional background. A cover letter should help the hiring manager to interpret that information. For instance, you may have an employment gap on your resume and in your cover letter, you can explain why.
Information: Any resume is mostly about facts. In contrast, your cover letter should contain more subjective information, such as reasons for applying for that job, why you’re passionate about your industry or why you’d make a good fit. It’s a place where you can show a bit of your personality.
Format: A resume is divided into multiple sections like Work history , Education , Skills , etc. and should use bullet points under each section. On the other hand, a cover letter is written in a letter format and consists of 3-4 full paragraphs. It includes heading, salutation, introduction, body content, conclusion, and your signature.
Tone: Resumes have more professional and formal tone. In your cover letter, you can use a more conversational tone and give it a more personal touch. This goes hand in hand with the fact that resumes are rather objective and cover letters subjective.
Length: Your resume should be one page long. This of course, depends on where you are in your career. But your cover letter should never go past 3/4 of a page (no matter what your career level is).
Christy's word of advice
Even if the cover letter is not always read, it’s still considered a courtesy to include one, particular by smaller companies who are more likely to manually review each application. Some online applications only allow you to upload one document, so in that case you can either merge your cover letter and resume into one file, or just submit the resume (avoid merging both into one file otherwise, as they serve different purposes and are weighted differently by ATS). If the ad just asks for a resume, you can probably get away with no cover letter.
Christy Morgan, Resident HR Expert
How cover letter and resume complement each other
Although there are multiple differences between the two, they complement each other.
Simply put — think of your resume as an outline for your cover letter story.
Along the similar lines, you can also think of your cover letter as a handbook to your resume. It allows you to translate raw data from your resume into an easy-to-read letter demonstrating your key skills and abilities. Ultimately, the purpose of your cover letter is to get your resume read.
They should also complement each other in the terms of design. Make sure your cover letter template matches the resume template you chose. It makes you look more professional. (For instance, Kickresume allows you to do that.)
In the end, both documents will give you a chance to deliver your “elevator pitch” and help you score a job interview.
Cover letter and resume examples
Let’s now take a look at how it should be done in practice. Below you can find a resume and cover letter example written by a real job seeker who scored a real job in a real company (it's all very real, true story).
These examples can teach you a bit about content and style of your resume and cover letter. You can even use them as your first drafts to help you get started.
Marketing and Brand Manager at American Eagle Outfitters (Resume Example)
This resume sample was contributed by a real person who got hired with Kickresume’s help.
Marketing and Brand Manager at American Eagle Outfitters (Cover Letter Example)
This cover letter sample was provided by a real person who got hired with Kickresume’s help.
Still need some more inspiration? Visit our resume examples and cover letter examples libraries.
Resumes? Cover letters?
Our AI writer can do it all.
A journalist by trade, a writer by fate. Nikoleta went from writing for media outlets to exploring the world of content creation with Kickresume and helping people get closer to the job of their dreams. Her insights and career guides have been published by The Female Lead, College Recruiter, and ISIC, among others. Nikoleta holds a Master's degree in Journalism from the Comenius University in Bratislava. When she’s not writing or (enthusiastically) pestering people with questions, you can find her traveling or sipping on a cup of coffee.
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Cover Letter VS. Resume –What's The Difference?
What is a cover letter?
- Cover letters vs. resumes - what's the difference?
Now that you know
In today’s ultra-competitive job market, one major way to get employers’ attention is by building an exemplary resume and cover letter. You must learn how to craft each document without any disqualifying errors.
In this article, you will learn the difference between a cover letter and a resume. These include the differences between the two in:
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A cover letter (also known as a letter of motivation) is a document sent alongside your resume. It provides additional information that you did not or could not include in your resume and gives you the opportunity to show more of your credentials to employers.
Cover letters vs. resumes - what's the difference?
A cover letter is an additional document, first and foremost. Unlike a resume, it is often optional, though some applications require an attached cover letter. It is a letter in which you provide detailed descriptions of your skills and previous work experience and explain why they make you the perfect fit for the position.
A resume is a primary document you will send to potential employers. It is a one to two-page list of your previous work experience, skills, accomplishments, education, etc.
It is advisable to customize your resume and cover letter to fit the requirements of each specific job description: in short, no form letters.
Cover letters have a different format
Formatting a cover letter correctly is vital. It is not just a list but a letter to a potential employer, with greetings, an introductory paragraph, one to two body paragraphs, a conclusion, and a signature. It is typically only one page.
A resume’s format is narrower. Resumes are a concise record of your background and qualifications, containing only essential information. Its presentation and visual appeal are especially important. It is typically one to two pages.
the tone of voice is different
A cover letter is you directly addressing your future employer. Unlike in your resume, in which you are clinically listing off your background and qualifications, you can feel free to inject more of your personality into a cover letter.
This helps the employer get to know you as well as your skills before you ever meet face to face. Imagine you are speaking to them at your job interview already: be friendly and confident, but remain professional as well.
Cover letters complement your resume.
If you have constructed it correctly, a finished resume can technically be all you need to apply to a job. However, you want to show potential employers that you will go the extra mile for them and ensure that they know just how better suited you are to the position than your competition.
A cover letter expands on the most important information provided in your resume and strengthens it. If your resume already has a strong layout , it is a good outline for your cover letter.
The most important information to keep in mind is the purpose of each document. A resume is an essential document that concisely lists your background and qualifications. A cover letter is an additional document that complements your resume by providing detailed explanations of the most relevant parts of your resume.
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Cover Letter vs. Resume: What’s the Difference?
There are many steps to getting the perfect job — and creating a compelling job application is one of them. Having a well-written resume and an eye-catching cover letter can take a lot of stress and uncertainty out of the job-hunting process.
Today, we are looking into the differences between a resume and cover letter and exploring some of the key practices for making these documents the best they can be.
Table of Contents
Cover letter vs. resume: what’s the difference?
A resume and cover letter typically come hand in hand. You need both these documents to successfully apply for a job. So, what is the difference between a cover letter and a resume and what information should you include in each one?
A resume is a document that summarizes your professional experience as a job candidate. The word “resume” actually comes from the French “résumé” and means “summary”. It focuses on your qualifications (work experience, skills, accomplishments, etc.) and helps showcase your abilities to convince the hiring manager that you are the right person for the job.
A typical resume includes five main parts
- Contact details : this is where you list the best ways to get in touch with you. This section generally includes your full name and professional credentials, email and phone number and, possibly, a link to your professional social media or portfolio.
- Summary : here, you can focus on your knowledge and experience and include your most valued skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Professional experience : in this section, you will need to list your previously held positions: starting with your latest job.
- Educational background : this part of your resume explains your academic qualifications: degrees, professional certificates, awards, etc.
- Additional information : here, you can include any other relevant information that doesn’t fit into the sections above. A lot of HR professionals suggest using this section for references, professional achievements and awards.
Learn more about how to write a resume .
A cover letter is a document that you send together with your resume that aims to introduce you to the hiring manager and briefly summarize your most important skills and professional experience. A good cover letter will get the HR professional interested in the rest of your application and make you stand out among other applicants.
A typical cover letter is about one page long and includes the following sections
- Header : this is where you include your contact details including your full name and professional credentials, phone number and email and links to your professional special networks or portfolio (optional)
- Introduction : here, you should get the HR professional “hooked” and make them interested in you as a job candidate. Mention your most relevant qualifications and skills and explain (briefly) why you see yourself as the best candidate for the job.
- Main body : after a condensed introduction highlighting your key skills, you can get into a bit more detail about your expertise in the main body of the cover letter. Here, you can go on to mention that you are aware of all the responsibilities that come with the job and have the capacity to handle them excellently.
- Conclusion : a cover letter should generally end with a call to action. You can mention when you will be able to start the new job and say that you are waiting for feedback on your application. Don’t forget to thank the hiring manager for their time for reading your letter.
Cover letter example
Learn more about how to write a cover letter .
Is it OK to send a resume without a cover letter?
While a cover letter is often looked at as an optional addition to the resume, it’s not quite the case. In fact, most job ads these days require a cover letter — and a failure to include one will probably result in your application being rejected. Even if it’s not specifically stated in the job ad that a cover letter is needed, you should definitely include one with your application. Not having a cover letter is simply a missed opportunity as it gives you extra “space” to make your case that you are the best candidate for the job.
Do you put a resume or cover letter first?
Most employers will scan your resume first. They will do so to make sure you have the relevant skills and experience for the position you are applying for. This is especially true for fields that require a specific set of hard skills like IT and engineering. While they may look at your resume first, a cover letter can help them fill in the blanks and get a more comprehensive picture of who you are as a professional. It can also be what makes you stand out among other candidates and actually gets you the job.
Is the cover letter part of the resume?
As we’ve mentioned above, a cover letter is a one-page document that goes alongside your resume — not inside of it or instead of it. You shouldn’t insert your cover letter into your resume and it should always go as a separate document with its own title. A typical cover letter is 250 to 400 words long.
Do you still need a cover letter in 2023?
Yes, cover letters are still important. Even if the employer doesn’t open your cover letter, they will still appreciate it being attached to your application. A cover letter is a good way to highlight that you are really serious about the job you are applying for. And, as we’ve mentioned earlier, it gives you an extra opportunity for self-presentation.
Letter of interest vs. cover letter
Quite often, when you read about cover letters, you may also come across the term “letter of interest”. While these are sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually quite a few differences between the two.
A letter of interest is sent to a company and indicates that you are interested in working for them. It doesn’t have to be sent to an open job offer — in fact, there may actually be no open positions at the company at the time. A letter of interest, true to its name, expresses your interest in a company.
A cover letter, on the other hand, is typically sent out together with your resume in response to a specific job offer advertised by the company. It’s an essential part of your job application.
To learn more about cover letters and letters of interest, take a look at this article: Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter: Difference, Tips and Examples .
Tips for writing your resume and cover letter
Here are a few quick tips for writing a good cover letter and resume.
Tips for writing a resume
- Use the keywords from the job ad. These days, a lot of companies use resume-filtering software before going through the applications by hand. To make sure your resume doesn’t get blocked by such programs, use the same key phrases that are used in the job description if they are in line with your expertise and background.
- Highlight key points. Hiring managers are generally very busy people that have to look at tens or even hundreds of resumes every day. Make their job easier by formatting your resume in a way that highlights your most relevant skills and experience.
- Be strategic. Think what information to include in your resume and make sure it’s relevant to the position you are applying for. It’s best to keep your resume as concise as possible and list work experience that best matches the expertise required for the new job.
Tips for writing a cover letter
- Customize your cover letter for the job you are applying for. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is making a “one-size-fits-all” cover letter and sending it out to all the companies you are applying to. What is the purpose of a cover letter? The main purpose of a cover letter is to make a positive impression on the hiring manager — and the only way to do that is by writing a letter that is targeted for the position you are applying for.
- Don’t be vague. Your cover letter is a document that needs to impress your potential employer. This means that it’s best not to use general phrases and instead focus on specifics. Include examples, achievements from your previous jobs, numbers and more.
- Keep it brief. A cover letter should be a one-page document and acts as a concentrated introduction of your best professional qualities. Make sure to only include the most important and relevant information. Read over your cover letter before you send it out and remove any non-essential text.
Cover letter vs Resume. Summing things up
Both a resume and a cover letter are essential elements of a successful job application. A resume is a summary of your professional life, while a cover letter is an introduction of your skills and qualities that best match the position you are applying for.
Even if the job description doesn’t specifically mention that you need to include a cover letter with your application, it’s best to have one ready and send it out together with your resume. It will demonstrate to the employees the seriousness of your intent and give you the opportunity to explain why you are the best choice for this position.
Resume vs. Cover Letter - What you need to know
If you’re in the job market or applying to go to college or university, you’ll have heard about resumes and cover letters ; they’re key to the process. They go hand in hand because what you include in one is likely to be mirrored in the other, but they are very much different beasts and need to be treated as such.
You need to know what the key differences between the documents are so that you can get both of them on point.
Things can get baffling real quick when you enter the job market for the first time or are applying for work after a long career break. Don’t worry, we’re here to answer the burning questions, like:
- What is a resume vs a cover letter?
- Should a resume or a cover letter go first?
- What are the resume and cover letter differences?
- What are the resume and the cover letter purposes?
And finally, should you choose to use a resume, cover letter, or both?
Let’s get into this! We’ll start with a table that puts the basics together to keep things simple, read on the get to the full lowdown.
Want to get into specifics? Here we go…
Define a Resume
Resumes and CVs are quite the same things: a document that you write about yourself and your skills and experience that you send out when looking for a job in a company.
In your résumé, you need to include a detailed list of your past employers and what you did for them, as well as your education and qualifications. Point out the great stuff you achieved in your past roles, often this is the best tool to boast and show how you can add value in a role.
Pro-Tip Bulleted lists are a great way to keep your resume slick and concise, it also makes it more readable to potential employers - no sifting through long paragraphs. Feel like it’s going to take forever? In five minutes our resume builder will have you off to a flying start.
So Then, a Cover Letter is…?
Also, something that you use to help get a job, it’s a letter that you use to give your future employer more detailed information about yourself by way of an introduction. You normally attach it along with your resume, giving an overview of what’s in there that’s relevant to the role and giving them a reason to read the resume through.
It should only last three to four paragraphs, giving brief information so the employer can get to grips with your background and understand how you’d fit into the organization. Besides, you have to show your interest and motivation to work in this particular company.
Pro-Tip Make sure you pay attention to the job requirements for the role you’re applying for and tailor your cover letter to highlight your skills, qualifications, and experience that make you perfect for the job.
Resume and Cover Letter - Key Differences
Often, the easiest way to understand the difference between a resume and a cover letter is to get to grips with what you actually need them for:
A resume is a summary of your previous jobs, education, and training and shows the hiring manager reading it who you are as a professional. Think of it like the “product”.
A cover letter is the sales pitch for your resume, giving the recruiter reasons why what you’ve done in the past makes you a perfect hire for the role. Tell them why you want to work for them and how you’re going to help develop their business.
A resume is typically written in a formal style, using the third person and you should use as few words as you can to get your experience across, keep it short and simple. Most resumes you see will have: a list of contact deets; a collection of your past experience with your job title, your key responsibilities, and achievements, and the dates you worked in each role; a list of your education and professional qualifications; and any other relevant information like volunteering or professional association memberships.
Your cover letter is there to pull out exactly what is in your resume that will make you the perfect hire. You’re writing a letter rather than a factual list so format it properly, with an appropriate greeting - ideally with the name of the recruiter - using paragraphs and a polite sign-off. Your cover letter needs to be in the first person, but don’t overuse “I”, focus on the reader instead.
Pro-Tip When you’ve got facts to boast about, use them. Include details like how many people you supervised, how you raised the productivity levels, and how much you exceeded your targets; details give you credibility.
Are There Any Similarities Between Resumes and Cover Letters?
Absolutely! The main job of a resume and a cover letter is to help you get an interview invitation.
Reading this, you’re probably thinking whether a resume and cover letter need to be prepared and handled differently. As much as these documents have two very different functions, which are important to know about, there are things that are needed in both to get you ready to make it big in the role of your dreams.
Some of the main tips are: both of them need to be accurate, focus on the key activities and actions that you did, and of course, your spelling and grammar need to be on fleek.
Pro-Tip Both in your cover letter and your résumé, use definites when talking about you and your skills, rather than “I believe” and “I think” use assertive words like “I achieved”.
Look at your resume as an overall picture of your career until now and see your cover letter as a summary of why your experience is related to the job that you’re actually applying for. Here’s a rundown of the important bits you need to remember when looking at the differences between a cover letter and a resume:
- Your resume is a historical account of your work until now, using bullet points and broken down into sections.
- In your cover letter, you go into more detail, giving insight into your work history in a personalized letter.
- A resume is a list of qualifications and achievements - a cover letter describes them.
- Keep a resume formal and direct; make your cover letter personal to the reader.
- Cover letters are a complement to a resume and are standard practice to send out - hiring managers to expect them.
Hopefully, with the tips given above, we’ve helped you navigate your way through choosing the right document for the right purpose when you want to apply for a job and introduce yourself as a perfect candidate for the desired position. We’ve got classic resume templates for you to try out and make your curriculum vitae look professional, the perfect one is waiting for you!
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Not sure whether you need a CV or a resume? Wondering are resumes and CVs the same thing? We’ve got a detailed guide and useful tips ready for you!
Need ideas for what to include in a resume? Go through our full guide, packed with pro-tips and insider tricks to get you into that job you’ve been dreaming about!
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The Difference Between Cover Letter vs. Resume in 2023
When it comes to job search, writing a cover letter and resume are two crucial steps to landing interviews. A cover letter is a document that accompanies a resume and provides a brief overview of the candidate’s qualifications and interests, while a resume is a formal document which highlights an individual’s work experience, educational background, professional achievements, and relevant skills.
Why are they important?
Cover letters and resumes are important because they play a vital role in the hiring process. They are often the first impression a potential employer has of a job candidate, and serve as a means for employers to assess a candidate’s skills, experience, and compatibility with the role they are applying for. A well-written cover letter and resume can set a candidate apart from the competition and increase their chances of securing an interview.
Overview of differences
While cover letters and resumes serve different purposes, they are both important components of a successful job application. One key difference is that a resume focuses more on a candidate’s skills and work experience, while a cover letter provides an opportunity for the candidate to showcase their personality and explain why they are interested in the position. Additionally, a cover letter allows a candidate to address any gaps in their resume or explain aspects that may not be immediately apparent to a potential employer.
In essence, both cover letters and resumes are tools that job seekers can use to market themselves effectively to potential employers. Understanding the differences between the two and knowing how to craft them effectively can make all the difference in landing that dream job.
When it comes to job hunting, crafting a cover letter and a resume are essential to making a strong first impression. However, it’s important to understand the differences between the two so you can optimize the content and increase your chances of landing an interview.
What does a cover letter contain?
A cover letter is a brief document that typically accompanies a resume. It’s a way to introduce yourself to the employer and highlight your relevant skills and experience. The goal of a cover letter is to persuade the reader to consider your resume and invite you to an interview.
A well-written cover letter should contain the following elements:
- An introduction that includes the job you’re applying for and your reason for writing
- A summary of your skills and experience that are relevant to the job
- A section that highlights your achievements and accomplishments
- A strong closing statement that thanks the employer for considering your application and expresses your interest in the position.
What does a resume contain?
On the other hand, a resume is a more comprehensive document that provides a detailed overview of your professional experience, skills, and achievements. Its purpose is to showcase your qualifications and convince the employer to hire you.
Your resume should include the following information:
- Your contact information
- A professional summary that highlights your skills and experience
- Your work history, starting with the most recent position
- Your education, training, and certifications
- Your skills and personal qualities that are relevant to the job
Importance of tailoring content to the job
One of the most crucial aspects of creating a strong cover letter and resume is tailoring the content to the job you’re applying for. This means customizing your documents to match the skills, requirements, and culture of the company you’re interested in.
By tailoring your job application to the specific needs of the employer, you’re showing that you’re a good match for the role and the company. It also demonstrates that you’re invested in the company and took the time to research and learn about its needs.
To tailor your cover letter and resume effectively, you need to:
- Research the company and the job posting
- Analyze the job requirements and match them to your skills and experience
- Use relevant keywords and phrases from the job posting in your documents
- Highlight your achievements and accomplishments that are relevant to the job
Understanding the differences between a cover letter and a resume and tailoring them to the job you’re applying for can make a significant difference in your job search success. Spend time crafting these documents and make sure they reflect your most relevant skills and experience.
When it comes to creating a cover letter and a resume, there are distinct formatting differences that need to be considered. Here are a few key differences:
Differences in layout and structure
Unlike a resume which has a standardized structure including headings such as “Work Experience,” “Skills,” and “Education,” a cover letter is typically a bit more freeform. It should focus on telling a story about who you are, what you’ve accomplished and why you’re the best fit for the role.
Importance of visual appeal
Your resume and cover letter are a direct representation of you as a candidate. Therefore, it’s important to ensure they have visual appeal. This means using a font that is easy to read, adequate spacing between lines and paragraphs, bullets and numbering for lists, and most importantly, a consistent format.
Tips for formatting
To ensure your cover letter and resume standout in a sea of applicants, here are a few tips to follow:
- Use a standard font such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri.
- Use 1-inch margins and spacing of 1.15 or 1.5 between lines and paragraphs.
- Use bold and italics sparingly to emphasize key points.
- Use bullet points and numbered lists where appropriate.
- Ensure your formatting is consistent throughout your document.
By following these tips, your cover letter and resume will be well-formatted, visually appealing and stand out to potential employers.
When applying for a job, it’s important to know the differences between a cover letter and a resume, as they both serve different purposes in the job application process.
Purpose of a cover letter
A cover letter is a document that explains why you’re interested in the job and how your skills and experience make you a good fit for the position. It’s essentially a personalized introduction that highlights your qualifications, achievements and career goals. A cover letter is an opportunity to showcase your personality and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, as well as your ability to communicate effectively.
Purpose of a resume
On the other hand, a resume is a comprehensive summary of your work history, education, skills, abilities and other relevant information. Its primary purpose is to provide potential employers with an overview of your professional experience and qualifications. A resume is typically designed to be scanned quickly, so it’s important to make it easy to read and to highlight the most important information clearly.
How they work together
While a cover letter and a resume serve different purposes, they still work together to provide a complete picture of the job applicant. The cover letter supplements the resume by providing more context around your qualifications and experience, and by showcasing your personality and communication skills.
When writing your cover letter, you should refer specifically to the job posting and show how your skills and experience align with the requirements of the job. You can also use it to explain any gaps or inconsistencies in your work history or qualifications, which may not be immediately apparent from your resume alone.
Your resume, on the other hand, should be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for, highlighting the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position. While your cover letter can provide more context around your qualifications, your resume should be concise and to-the-point, focusing on the most important aspects of your work history and academic background.
The two documents work together to create a complete and compelling presentation of your qualifications and experience, helping you to stand out from other job applicants and get noticed by potential employers. By understanding the purpose of each document and crafting them carefully and thoughtfully, you can maximize your chances of landing your dream job.
Target Audience Differences
When applying for a job, it’s important to understand the differences in the audience that will be reading your cover letter and resume. Knowing who will be reading each document will help you tailor your message to meet their needs and expectations.
Who Reads Cover Letters?
Cover letters are typically read by the hiring manager or recruiter. These individuals are responsible for screening resumes and selecting candidates to move forward in the hiring process. Cover letters are your opportunity to introduce yourself and make a great first impression.
Who Reads Resumes?
Resumes are typically read by the hiring manager or recruiter, but they may also be reviewed by other members of the hiring team, such as HR or department heads. Resumes provide an overview of your work experience, skills, and qualifications.
What Each Audience is Looking For
Hiring managers and recruiters.
Hiring managers and recruiters are looking for candidates who can meet the requirements of the job and fit in with the company culture. When they read a cover letter, they want to see that you have taken the time to research the company and understand what they do. They also want to see that you have the skills and experience needed for the job.
When reading a resume, hiring managers and recruiters are looking for a clear summary of your work history and accomplishments. They want to see that you have relevant experience in the field and that you have achieved measurable results. They also want to see that you have the skills and qualifications necessary for the job.
HR and Department Heads
When HR and department heads review resumes, they are often looking for specific qualifications, such as degrees, certifications, or professional experience. They want to see that you have the credentials needed to be considered for the job.
Department heads may also be looking for candidates who have a strong background in the specific area of the company that they oversee. For example, a marketing manager might be looking for a candidate who has experience with social media marketing or email marketing campaigns.
One of the most common questions job seekers have is, “when should I use a cover letter versus a resume?” The answer largely depends on the purpose of the document and what information you want to convey. Let’s dive into the specifics:
When to Use a Cover Letter
A cover letter is an introduction to your resume and should be used when you want to provide a more personalized touch to your job application. You should use a cover letter when:
- You want to showcase your writing skills and ability to communicate effectively.
- You are applying for a job that specifically requires a cover letter. Always read the job posting and follow the application instructions provided.
- You want to explain certain things about your resume or qualifications that may not be immediately apparent, such as gaps in employment, relocation plans, or a career change.
- You want to express your enthusiasm for the company or job opportunity and make a memorable impression on the hiring manager.
A cover letter is your chance to highlight your personality, enthusiasm, and professional writing skills. It’s an opportunity to connect with the employer on a deeper level and stand out from other applicants.
When to Use a Resume
A resume is a comprehensive summary of your professional experience, skills, and education. It should be used when you want to provide a detailed account of your qualifications for a particular job. You should use a resume when:
- You want to demonstrate your achievements and accomplishments in previous roles.
- You want to provide a detailed overview of your skills, experience and education relevant to the position.
- You are applying for jobs that request a resume only or if the company does not specify that a cover letter is required.
A resume is a professional document designed to convey your work experience and accomplishments in a concise and formatted manner. It typically follows a standard format, highlighting core information that is relevant to the role you are applying to.
How to Determine Which to Use
In most cases, submitting both a cover letter and a resume is ideal, especially when applying for professional positions. However, there may be instances where submitting one or the other is sufficient.
Here are some tips to determine whether to use a cover letter or a resume:
- Always read the job posting carefully to see what documents are requested.
- If a cover letter is requested, submit one in addition to your resume.
- If there is no mention of a cover letter and you are unsure whether to include one, contact the company and ask. It’s better to verify than to assume.
- Consider the level of formality of the job you are applying to. For example, a cover letter may be more appropriate for a role in public relations, communications or advertising, where a strong writing ability is essential.
- If it’s unclear which to use and both are optional, assess whether your resume can stand alone or if additional explanations or enthusiasm should be highlighted.
The tone of your cover letter and resume is crucial in determining the impression you make on potential employers. Maintaining a professional tone is essential, and there are some key differences in tone between cover letters and resumes that you should be aware of. In this section, we will discuss how to maintain a professional tone in both documents, explore the differences in tone between cover letters and resumes, and provide tips for finding the right tone.
How to maintain a professional tone
To maintain a professional tone in your cover letter and resume, it is essential to use formal language, avoid slang or jargon, and avoid overly emotional or personal statements. Use a neutral tone and stick to the facts, focusing on your qualifications and experiences. Proofread your documents carefully to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and error-free.
Differences in tone between cover letters and resumes
While your resume is a more formal document, your cover letter is more of a personal introduction. The tone of your cover letter should be friendly and engaging while still maintaining a professional tone. Your resume should highlight your skills and experience in a straightforward way, while your cover letter can explore your personality, passion for the industry, and enthusiasm for the position you’re applying for.
Tips for finding the right tone
To find the right tone for your cover letter and resume, research the company and the position you’re applying for. Look at the company’s website and social media pages to get a sense of their values, culture, and tone. Pay attention to the language used in the job listing and use similar language in your documents. Tailor your writing to the specific company and position, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your cover letter.
Maintaining a professional tone is essential in both your cover letter and resume. While there are differences in tone between the two documents, both should highlight your skills, experience, and qualifications in a clear and concise way. By researching the company and position you’re applying for and tailoring your writing to their specific tone and culture, you can find the right tone for your documents and make a strong impression on potential employers.
When it comes to applying for a job, there are certain common mistakes that are made in cover letters and resumes. If done correctly, your cover letter and resume can make an excellent first impression on potential employers. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
Common Mistakes in Cover Letters
Generic and impersonal salutations: Avoid addressing your cover letter to “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam.” Always try to address your letter to a specific person in the company.
Talking too much about yourself: Highlight your strengths and experiences that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Avoid writing too much about yourself and your personal life.
Repeating information from your resume: Your cover letter and resume should complement each other, not repeat information. Highlight specific experiences and accomplishments that you didn’t include in your resume.
Failing to explain how you can contribute: Don’t simply write about why you want the job. Instead, explain how your skills will help the company meet their goals.
Spelling and grammar mistakes: Proofread your cover letter multiple times to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. This is the first impression potential employers will have of you, so make sure it’s a good one.
Common Mistakes in Resumes
Too much information: Keep your resume concise and to the point. Your resume should be a maximum of two pages.
Non-relevant work experience: Include work experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Employers don’t want to see every job you’ve ever had.
Listing job responsibilities instead of accomplishments: Highlight your accomplishments and how they’ve benefited previous employers. Don’t simply list your job responsibilities.
Formatting issues: Make sure your resume is visually pleasing and easy to read. Avoid using complicated fonts, and ensure there is plenty of white space.
Failing to tailor your resume to the job: Customize your resume to fit the job description. Highlight experiences and accomplishments that are relevant to the position.
How to Avoid Common Mistakes
Research the company: Before you write your cover letter and resume, research the company and understand their values and mission.
Tailor your application: Customize your cover letter and resume to fit the job description and the company’s values.
Proofread: Proofread your application multiple times to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes.
Focus on the important details: Highlight your accomplishments and how they’ve benefited previous employers. Don’t simply list job responsibilities.
Seek feedback: Have a trusted friend or colleague look over your application to provide feedback and catch any mistakes you may have missed.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can make an excellent first impression on your potential employer and stand out from other applicants.
Tips for Writing
Whether you are applying for a new job or looking to improve your professional writing skills, understanding the differences between cover letters and resumes can make all the difference in your success. Here are some tips for writing effective cover letters and resumes, as well as best practices for writing and editing in general.
Tips for Writing a Successful Cover Letter
- Tailor your cover letter to the specific job you are applying for. Use keywords and phrases from the job description to highlight your relevant skills and experience.
- Address the hiring manager by name, if possible. This shows that you have done your research and are invested in the company and position.
- Highlight your unique qualifications and why you are the best candidate for the job. Use specific examples to demonstrate your skills and accomplishments.
- Keep your cover letter concise and to the point, typically one page or less.
- Proofread your cover letter carefully to ensure that it is error-free and professional.
Tips for Writing a Successful Resume
- Use a clear and readable font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, and keep the formatting simple and consistent.
- Focus on your most relevant and recent work experience, using bullet points to highlight your accomplishments and skills.
- Quantify your achievements and responsibilities whenever possible, using numbers and percentages to demonstrate your impact.
- Include relevant keywords and phrases from the job description, as many companies use automated applicant tracking systems to screen resumes.
- Tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for, emphasizing the skills and experience most relevant to the position.
- Proofread your resume carefully for typos, grammatical errors, and formatting issues.
Best Practices for Writing and Editing
- Start with a clear and concise thesis or main idea, and organize your writing around this central point.
- Use active voice and strong verbs to make your writing more engaging and impactful.
- Keep your writing concise and to the point, avoiding unnecessary words and phrases.
- Use concrete examples and evidence to support your points, and avoid vague or unsubstantiated claims.
- Proofread your writing carefully, checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
- Consider seeking feedback from a trusted colleague or mentor to help improve your writing.
Understanding the differences between cover letters and resumes, and knowing how to write and edit effectively, can help you stand out in today’s competitive job market. By following these tips and best practices, you can create compelling and professional documents that showcase your skills and experience.
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Resume vs Cover Letter: What is the Difference?
- Updated on
- Sep 12, 2023
A lot of people confuse a resume with a cover letter. It is understandable because both documents share some similarities but serve different purposes. Some people fail to understand that difference and make the mistake of submitting the former when asked for the latter. This mistake might sound very petty but it has a huge impact on your job application. If you don’t want to make the same mistake then read this blog as we cover the difference between a resume and a cover letter, the format, importance, and samples.
This Blog Includes:
What is a resume , what is a cover letter, importance of resume and cover letter , format of a resume, format of a cover letter, sample resume, sample cover letter.
A resume is a brief, structured document that provides an overview of your professional background, skills, education, and relevant accomplishments. It displays your qualifications, typically spanning one to two pages. Resumes are created for specific job applications and are designed to quickly convey key information to potential employers.
A cover letter is a personalized letter addressed to the hiring manager or employer, accompanying your resume. Unlike the latter, which focuses on your qualifications, the former allows you to express your motivation for applying, highlight specific experiences or skills relevant to the position, and demonstrate your understanding of the company and its needs. It’s an opportunity to add a personal touch to your application and showcase your communication skills.
Also Read: How to Write a Cover Letter?
Difference Between a Resume and Cover Letter
The primary difference between a resume and a cover letter lies in its format, content, and purpose.
- The purpose of a resume is to showcase your qualifications and convince potential employers of your suitability for a specific role.
- The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself, demonstrate your interest in the position, and highlight how your experiences align with the company’s needs.
- A resume follows a structured format and typically includes sections such as Contact Information, Objective or Summary, Education, Work Experience, Skills, and Achievements.
- A cover letter is a more fluid document, following a standard letter format with your contact information, a greeting, body paragraphs, and a closing.
Are you a fresher looking for a job? Check out this blog and get the best resume samples for freshers: Resume Format for Freshers
- A resume provides a comprehensive overview of your professional history, skills, and achievements.
- A cover letter complements the resume by focusing on your motivation for applying, specific experiences, and how you can meet the needs of the employer.
Also Read: Difference Between CV, Statement of Purpose, and Profile
After analyzing the difference between a resume and a cover letter, let us understand their significance in a job interview . Both documents are your first impression of employers. A well-crafted resume and cover letter demonstrate your professionalism, attention to detail, and ability to communicate effectively. They also allow you to showcase your qualifications in a way that aligns with the specific requirements of the job.
A resume follows this format:
- Contact Information
- Objective or Summary Statement
- Work Experience
- Achievements or Accomplishments
A CV format typically includes the following information:
- Your Contact Information
- Date of Writing
- Employer’s Contact Information
- Body Paragraphs (Introduction, Body, Conclusion)
Here’s a sample resume for a UI/UX designer:
Must Read: Designer Cover Letter: Samples and Tips
Here’s a sample cover letter for those applying for a UI/UX designer job:
Must Read: How to Become a UI/UX Designer?
A resume is a concise, structured document that provides an overview of your professional background, skills, education, and relevant accomplishments.
A cover letter is a personalized letter addressed to the hiring manager or employer, accompanying your resume.
A resume showcases your qualifications and convinces potential employers of your suitability for a specific role. A cover letter is where you introduce yourself, demonstrate your interest in the position, and highlight how your experiences align with the company’s needs.
For more content on career counselling , keep following Leverage Edu. Thank you for reading!
Damanpreet Kaur Vohra
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Home » General » What is the Difference Between Resume and Cover Letter
What is the Difference Between Resume and Cover Letter
The main difference between resume and cover letter is that a resume is objective while a cover letter is subjective.
Job seekers usually send resumes and cover letters when they are applying for a particular job. A resume lists information about a job applicant’s education, qualifications , and experience, while a cover letter explains how the applicant can contribute to the company and why he is applying for a particular job opening.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Resume – Definition, Features 2. What is a Cover Letter – Definition, Features 3. Difference Between Resume and Cover Letter – Comparison of Key Differences
Cover Letter, Resume, CV
What is a Resume
A resume (also spelled as a résumé) is a document a job applicant uses to summarize his or her educational background, work experience, and special skills. Resumes are also known as CVs. Most modern resumes consist of only one or two pages.
Sections in a Resume
The information an applicant should include in a resume depends on the job they are applying. But generally, a resume has the following sections.
- Contact Details – This section should include the job applicant’s first and last name, email address, mailing address, and phone number. It can also include details like LinkedIn account and portfolio links.
- Introduction – This section should include a brief overview of the main qualifications and professional background of the applicant. Introduction can be in the form of a professional summary, resume objective, or resume summary.
- Education – This section includes the basic details about education – names of the colleges, degrees earned, etc.
- Experience – This section should include the title, the company, years worked, and a brief list of key responsibilities and notable achievements.
- Skills – This section should include skills and other qualifications the applicant possesses relevant to the job position.
What is a Cover Letter
A cover letter or a covering letter is a letter of introduction accompanying another document like a resume or a curriculum vitae. When a job seeker sends a cover letter along with a resume, the employer can learn more about the job seeker, his personality, what he wants from the job, and gain an insight into why he is applying. Generally, employers look for thoughtfully written and individualized cover letters as a method of screening out applicants. We can categorize cover letters into two main types according to their purpose: letters applying for a specific job opening and letters expressing an interest in a company when the applicant is uncertain whether there is a current opening.
A cover letter should typically include the job applicant’s personal details, including name, address, phone number, and email address. In addition, a cover letter typically also explains how the applicant found the vacancy, why he is suitable for the job, and what he can do for the company. At the end of the letter, the applicant should always thank the reader for their time and consideration. Furthermore, a good cover letter should be free of errors, up-to-date, and specific (specific to a particular job and company).
Difference Between Resume and Cover Letter
A resume is a document a job applicant uses to summarize his or her educational background, work experience, and special skills. A cover letter, on the other hand, is a letter of introduction accompanying a resume.
The main purpose of a resume is to summarize the educational background, work experience, and special skills, while the main purpose of a cover letter is to give details about the applicant and how he can contribute to the company.
Type of Information
A resume contains objective information, while a cover letter contains subjective information.
A resume has several specific sections, containing information in bullet form, while a cover letter consists of a few paragraphs of text, organized into an introduction, body, and conclusion.
A resume lists information about a job applicant’s education, qualifications, and experience, while a cover letter explains how the applicant can contribute to the company and why he is applying for a particular job opening. Therefore, a resume contains objective information while a cover letter contains subjective information. This is the main difference between resume and cover letter.
1. “ What Is a Cover Letter? ” Indeed Career Guide. 2. Benz, Conrad. “ What Is a Resume? Definition, Purpose, & Importance .” Resume Genius.
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Difference between Resume, CV and Cover Letter
Resumé, CV, and cover letter are essential papers in a job search because they will prove your level of understanding and qualities to a prospective employer. However, some people are taking CV for resumé and also cover letters to be the same thing, not knowing that they all have their distinctions.
To comprehend the disparity between a résumé, CV, and cover letter, you will need to stay on this page. This article will show you the distinctions that exist between the three documents. The next time you are looking for work, you will know the correct document to present.
However, before we get to the point, we will briefly look at the CV, a resume, and a cover letter. It will serve as a foundation and guide for our discussion. Have a great time with us.
What a Résumé is
A resume is a standard paper that provides a summary of the applicant’s proficient credentials concerning a position. This includes your aptitudes, applicable work experience, remarkable achievements, and academic attainment. To convince employers the more, you can pair your résumé with a cover letter to elaborate your special skills.
In addition, a good resume should contain the following elements and format: contact details, introduction, training, employment chronology, and applicable competencies. Before you go ahead, it will be crucial you know that there are four main types of resumes. They consist of chronological resume, functional resume, targeted resume, and join resume.
What a CV Is the
CV stands for “Curriculum Vitae”. It’s a paper that contains a precise explanation of the course of your academic and skilled attainments. To create a good CV, you must incorporate your private details, schooling certificates, job history, honors and awards, skills, publication and manifestations, membership of experienced bodies, and so on.
More so, a CV is usually lengthy and comprehensive than a Resume, because the employer needs to verify the applicant’s profile based on the aforementioned reservations. Most of them range from three pages or more. Some CVs can be up to 10 pages long.
A cover letter is a motivational paper that is either attached with a CV or résumé. Such a letter covers certain vital areas in your knowledge and skills as described in your CV or resume. The aim is to exhibit to your employers your strong desire for the post and the right nominee as well. As such, you may shed more light on how your skills will fit their requirements.
However, you must be aware that cover letters are not mandatory when submitting a CV or résumé. This is an indication that you are genuinely prying to work with the establishment as we said earlier. However, this kind of paper is very significant.
At least you have fully understood what a resume, CV, and cover letter are. We will immediately look at their respective contrasts to broaden your understanding.
Variation between Resume and CV
To comprehend the distinction between a resume and a CV, we will review them in terms of length, area of importance, and amendment.
- Length of Document
A resume is shorter than the CV, as it will only include your pertinent aptitudes and qualification for a specific position. At least a page or two is enough to prepare a good resume. But on the other hand, a CV is more extensive than a resume. This is because you will provide detailed data and a description of your course work, publications, expressions, and a lot more. As we said earlier, a CV can go from 3 to 10 pages or even more.
- Area of Importance
The time and place to use a CV vary considerably. Resumes are papers that you can use to apply for jobs in the industry, either in the private sector or in the public sector. While the CV is used to look for academic roles, grants, research, or teaching posts. Individuals with a CV are primarily applicants or graduates of master’s or Ph.D. programs, researchers, or professors at a university institution.
A CV does not change. So you can use that to apply to all sorts of jobs. But a resume is subject to modification relying on the type of job you are looking for.
Variation between a Cover Letter and Resume
The contrasts between a cover letter and resume fall into three categories: format, content, and subject matter.
Cover letters are structured into full paragraphs since they only obscure the key points of your credentials. However, a resume is structured into factions and bullets to describe specific actualities regarding your credentials. Take, for example, dates of employment.
Cover letters concentrate particularly on the position you are applying for. Therefore, this relates to your current and forthcoming goals. But a resume provides an overview of your academic achievements and your employment story. This means that you can identify your previous work and attainments in your résumé.
As we said earlier, a resume is brief facts about your knacks, although it conveys a wide range of details. It is up to the employer to promptly check if you are a suitable prospect. But a cover letter is a medium that will enable you to describe yourself as a person as well as a requester.
Variation between a CV and Cover Letter
As we said earlier, a CV is a piece of detailed facts regarding your capabilities. As it is generally long when it comes to the job you are seeking. But on the other hand, cover letters are possibilities to elaborate on your qualities. These are usually short, at least one or two pages is sufficient. But it will include your name, academic and skilled background, contact details, etc.
In addition, the CV has a different format than a cover letter. CV is usually written with bullet points because you are to list all your credentials and proficient background as mentioned earlier. But when it comes to cover letters, they just write paragraphs.
A resume, CV, and cover letter are all used to obtain employment. But each has its objective. However, for you to reach this point, it means that you have seen the contrasts between these three documents. The next time you want to search for work, you will know the correct document to present.
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Resumes, CVs, and Job Profiles: Differences and When to Use Each
Resumes, CVs, and profiles on professional sites like LinkedIn and Indeed are three very different ways for job seekers to represent themselves to their next employers. And yet, the intent of these three documents is the same: to get the applicant hired. In order for these documents to be effective, it is important to understand each of them, why they are needed, and the differences between them. That way, an informed job seeker can wow that dream employer with the exact information needed to help them stand out from the pack.
When you finish reading, don’t forget to pair your applications with a letter of recommendation:
This article will answer the following questions:
What is a resume, what is a cv.
- How is a Profile Different From a CV or Resume?
- How Can I Optimize These Documents?
Simply put, a resume is a summary of an applicant’s qualifications for the job in question 1 . Because of that, successful resumes are tailored for the position which the applicant is seeking. Recruiters recommend creating a “master” resume, and then tweaking that to reflect the specific position 2 . A great way for applicants to tweak a resume to a specific position is to look at the types of skills and qualifications that the employer is seeking, and then give those skills a higher priority in the resume 3 . Being a licensed SCUBA diver is a fine accomplishment and a great conversation starter, but you might not want to lead with that if you’re applying for an office job.
It might also be a timesaver for applicants to think of the top four or five positions to which they might apply, and then make some subtle tweaks to the master resume to create a template for those positions. For example, a job seeker with a marketing background could wind up applying for jobs in digital marketing, content creation, social media management, public relations, or sales. Having a template resume (and cover letter) for each of these avenues will ultimately save a lot of time, as the applicant would just need to make a few simple changes to freshen up the template for each company.
A CV (“curriculum vitae” or “course of life” in Latin 4 ) is far more than a bougie way to say resume. While a resume for anyone other than a former president or pope should never be more than 1-2 pages, the CV is a more complete summary and can be as long as necessary to provide an accurate accounting of an applicant’s professional and personal accomplishments. (Check out this terrific post from Indeed on the typical format for a CV ). CVs are commonly requested in academic circles, as well as in many European countries 5 .
In addition to length, the other major difference between a CV and a resume is that the CV is static. Applicants don’t need to worry about creating multiple CV templates for potential openings in different sectors — the CV stays the same. Instead, applicants are asked to write a cover letter that addresses their reasons for applying for the position and how their CV qualifies them 6 .
How are Professional Site Profiles Different from Resumes and CVs?
If you’re one of the 660 million users on LinkedIn 7 , you probably read that last paragraph and thought, “that sounds an awful lot like my LinkedIn profile!”
As it turns out, employers are increasingly thinking the same thing. Recruiters and career development consultants who were asked about LinkedIn versus resumes were split down the middle: half said they had completely replaced resumes with LinkedIn profiles — and the other half considered making the move 8 . The big difference seems to be LinkedIn’s dynamism. Applicants can share pictures and videos of their most successful projects. Instead of calling an applicant’s references or going through their letters of recommendation, recruiters can pull up their LinkedIn profiles and see which skills their former co-workers say they do well. (Although, even though they are ‘old school’, having a good letter of recommendation doesn’t hurt!)
Like the LinkedIn profile, job board sites like Indeed leverage big data, AI, and access to jobs to supercharge the traditional resume. Applicants can write in their top skills and the years experience they have in them, and the sites’ algorithms will tailor job recommendations that match their profiles.
The endgame of this is huge. In a 2018/2019 field experiment, ResumeGo reported that applicants with comprehensive LinkedIn profiles received a staggering 71% higher chance of getting called for interviews than applicants without LinkedIn profiles 9 .)
How to Improve Resumes, CVs, and Job Profiles
The short answer is to play the game.
Artificial intelligence has become THE way to do things in HR. 67% of hiring managers surveyed by LinkedIn said AI was saving them time on the hunt for new employees 10 .
That means no matter what the field, job applicants have to start treating their documents like digital ads. By focusing on things like search engine optimization and keyword placement , applicants can help their resume or CV stand out — not just to the hiring manager reading it, but to the AI that selects which resumes are even worth the hiring manager’s precious time 11 .
However, if all that sounds incredibly complicated, don’t despair! The same industry gurus who encourage applicants to gamify their CVs also say that the best way to get noticed 11 … is to reach out and call recruiters and hiring managers directly (and then, slide into their LinkedIn DMs).
You know what they say – the squeaky wheel gets the job.
- https://www.cio.com/article/2888303/is-linkedin-killing-the-traditional-resume.html#:~:text=Though%20LinkedIn%20hasn’t%20killed,on%20personalized%20recommendations%20and%20connections .