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What’s The Difference Between A Resume And Cover Letter

What A Resume Includes

RESUME VS. COVER LETTER | Know the difference between a cover letter and a resume | Job search 2021

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.

What Is A Resume What Does A Resume Include

In short, a resume summarizes your work experience and educational background.

Its a detailed account of the jobs youve had, the schools youve attended and the degrees you got, any awards and certifications you might have, your skills, etc.

Most commonly, a resume is formatted as a list with bullet points. This makes the document easily scannable and eliminates fluff, which is perfect for a busy hiring manager.

Usually, you should write your resume in the third-person and be as clear and concise as possible, using few words and not going into too much unnecessary detail.

So, heres a list of what your resume should include:

  • Contact information
  • Additional information, such as certificates, spoken languages, etc.

But what about cover letters?

What Do Resume And A Cover Letter Have In Common

You may see now that the difference between a cover letter and resume is significant. Keep these distinctions in mind while writing these documents.

Despite these peculiarities, there are some common requirements for a cover letter and a resume. Both documents should contain keywords, have proper grammar and spelling.

The best way to find keywords for a cover letter and resume is to analyze the job description given by the hiring manager.

Determine the key phrases and requirements and then include them in your resume and a cover letter.


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When To Use An Application Letter

Before we explore all the reasons why a resume + cover letter combo is usually better for job seekers than a single application letter, an examination of online recruitment wisdom does highlight a few occasions when a job application letter might prove a valid choice. So what are the three types of application letter?

Recruiters Note

We must stress that in 99% of cases, this advice and the following application letter sample is definitely not the norm, but if you have tried everything else in your job search toolbox, it might just be worth a try.

Keep It Short And Sweet

Cover letter and resume difference

You wouldnt want the recruiter to fall asleep halfway through your cover letter, would you?

So, keep it short, clear, and straight to the point. Leave all the unnecessary details out, talk about relevant experiences only, and most importantly, make it captivating.

As for the specific length, aim for three or four paragraphs and try not to fill more than 3/4 of a page.

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Tips For Structuring Your Resumes:

The following tips can be helpful in organizing your resumes,

  • Before writing your resume, it is best to review some resume samples to get an idea about the styles and format.
  • Choose the best format that suits your skills, experience, and educational background.
  • The font of your resume should be easy to read, clear, and formal.
  • Keep your resume brief, avoid using extra words and write in active language.
  • Employers do not spend much time reading your resume thoroughly, so keep it concise and include all the relevant and important details.
  • Proofread your resume and make necessary edits before sending it to the employer to make a good impression.

You can get a free resume review for getting feedback on your resume from professionals before sending it to employers.

Cover Letter Vs Resume: Whats The Difference

So, how are a resume and a cover letter different?

While the purpose of both is to prove to the hiring manager that you have what it takes to get the job, they do so in two very different ways.

Basically, you can consider your resume to be a summary of your work and education experience, while your cover letter focuses on how this experience relates to this specific job.

Have you heard that saying in the beauty community that says your eyebrows should be sisters, not twins?

You can apply that same logic to your cover letter and resume.

These two documents should complement each other, not copy each other exactly.

One big difference we can name right off the bat is that pretty much every employer requires a resume for a job application, but not a cover letter.

However, including one always boosts your chances of success .

Now then, to really understand what the difference between a cover letter and a resume is, we will take a quick look at what each of them is at its core.


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What Is A Resume

A resume is a document providing a concise, neatly formatted overview of your professional qualifications. This includes your relevant work experience, education history, skills, and notable accomplishments.

All jobs require candidates to submit a resume. A resume paired with a cover letter makes up a complete job application.

On a basic level, a resume is made up of six parts:

  • Contact details

Your contact details are included in your resume header.

At a minimum, your contact details should include your:

  • First and last name
  • Email address
  • Phone number

Additionally, add your LinkedIn profile if its up to date, and your mailing address if you want to prove you live within commuting distance of the company youre applying to.

The Format Of A Resume And Cover Letter

Difference Between A Resume and A Cover Letter

Weâve established that the formats of both applications are different.

That doesnât mean they should be completely separate from each other – it still needs to be somewhat consistent.

For example, you should still be using the same font style and font size.

Also, for cover letters, you should always aim for a one-page cover letter and no further than that. One-page resumes are just as effective, and two-page resumes work when you have a lot of experience to talk about.

When sending over your application electronically, the file type for both your resume and cover letter should be sent as a PDF file with an appropriate file name.

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Difference Between A Resume And An Application Letter

Your job application package consists of a cover letter and a resume. Each document serves a specific purpose and has a particular format. Whenever you apply for a position, send both documents unless the employer has asked for a resume only. Use the appropriate delivery method — email, fax or postal mail — and remember to sign the cover letter. Make sure that both documents use the same header, font and paper.

Usage Around The World:

A resume is the preferred application document in the US and Canada. Americans and Canadians would only use a CV when applying for a job abroad or if searching for an academic or research-oriented position.

In the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand, a CV is used in all contexts and resumes arent used at all. The CV prevails in mainland Europe and there is even a European Union CV format available for download.

In Germany, the CV is more commonly known as a Lebenslauf and is only one of many application documents poor German job seekers must produce to get an interview.

In Australia, India, and South Africa, the terms resume and CV are used interchangeably. The term resume is used more for jobs in the private sector and CV is more commonplace when applying for public service positions.

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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.

In the end, both documents will give you a chance to deliver your elevator pitch and help you score a job interview.

Definition Of Curriculum Vitae


A written snapshot of a persons educational qualification, work experience, and some personal details is known as a Curriculum Vitae . It is mainly used by the prospective employers to draw the career sketch of the job seekers and shortlist the deserving candidates before calling them for an interview. It contains the qualifications, skills, hobbies, experience, achievements, projects, awards, publications, extracurricular activities.

The term Curriculum Vitae is derived from a Latin word, which simply means course of life. It is used while applying for specific purposes like fellowships, advanced research, grants and so on.

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Use A Subjective Tone

A cover letter allows you to talk about things you wouldnt mention on a resume.

No resume contains a section about how you found the position, how passionate you are about it, or how each skill youve mentioned relates to the job.

Yet, these are all important aspects to a hiring manager.

So, you can afford to use more subjective information when writing a cover letter.

Let them know why you are certain youd make a good fit. After all, youre the one that knows what you can bring to the table, right?

And there you go youre now ready to craft that perfect resume and throw on a stellar cover letter for good measure.

Formatting Of Cover Letter And Resume

Different formats are applied when writing both cover letters and resumes. A cover letter follows a formal and laid down format, which includes indicating the address of the recipient, your address, salutation, subject, body, and conclusion of the letter. This means that individuals should familiarize themselves with how to write a standard cover letter, which can be accepted in different parts of the world. On the other hand, resumes are tailor-made and may follow the format with which an individual would like their resumes to resemble. However, despite the different methods and forms of writing a resume, all the necessary information, which includes educational background, employment background, contact information, hobbies, and interests, should appear.

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Make Sentences Shorter And Minimize Descriptive Language

Two pages might seem a lot for an application letter, but when you consider that it has to be written in full sentences and with acceptable English, suddenly the simplicity and brevity of skills lists on a resume seem very appealing.

Keep your sentences as short and impactful as possible. Otherwise you might find yourself not having enough space for some of your achievements and experiences.

Use Cover Letters To Demonstrate Subjective Personable Details

Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter âï¸?

A CV is used to state the facts and gives a succinct overview of your relevant experience and achievements. A cover letter, on the other hand, provides the opportunity to elaborate on your selling points and explain your qualities and potential in more detail.

But it doesn’t stop there. Your cover letter offers the chance for recruiters to get to know you. Subjective details such as your writing style, tone of voice, your interest in the position, and your own values and motivations add colour to your application and help recruiters warm to the real you.

Cover letters aren’t always listed as an essential requirement on a job application. However, with a CV that proves your talent and ability and a cover letter that supports and sells your story, you increase your chances of impressing your prospective employer.

TopCV knows its way around both CVs and cover letters. Learn more about working with an expert writer to find more success with your job-search documents.

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Differences Between The Cover Letter And Resume

usually 1-2 pages usually 1/2 page

Type of document: When youre applying for a job, youre normally asked to provide a resume. Thats 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 resumeshould 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 youre passionate about your industry or why youd make a good fit. Its a place where you can show a bit of your personality.

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.

Christys word of advice

Emphasize Your Interest In The Company Through Research

Although this is a common cover letter writing tip, its even more important for creating your letter of interest. Since the company isnt actively looking for employees, youll need to show how the companys goals tie in to your passions.

To do this, make it clear youve researched the company and understand its products, culture, and future ambitions to show the hiring manager you genuinely want to work there.

Also address your letter of interest directly to the hiring manager, preferably by their name. You can look for their name on LinkedIn or the companys website. Otherwise, you can try calling the company to ask for the name of the hiring manager.

If you still cant find their name, use their title . Generic openers like To Whom It May Concern, and Dear Sir/Madam, show you havent taken the time to research who youre writing to.

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Letter Of Interest Vs Cover Letter: How Are They Different

September 23, 2020 | By Arseny Kaluzhinsky| Reviewed by

Letters of interest and cover letters are two types of business letters you send to companies you want to work for. Although similar, you should be aware of the key differences between a letter of interest and a cover letter before sending your application out.

Letter Of Interest Vs Cover Letter

Whats A Resume Cover Letter Database

A letter of interest is a document that conveys your desire to work for a company that hasnt posted a job opening. This letter lets the hiring manager know that youre interested in seeking a position with the business. It explains why you would be a good fit for that company, what your qualifications are and where you see yourself working. A letter of interest will often include background information that details why youve chosen to reach out.

A cover letter is a document that accompanies your resume and briefly explains your interest in a particular job posting. The elements of a cover letter are similar to those of a letter of interest. However, a cover letter refers to a specific job that the company has advertised. Your cover letter helps your resume stand out and should make the reader more interested in reviewing your full resume and contacting you for an interview.

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Application Letter When There Is No Job Opening

When the job market is tight, potential hiring managers and recruiters will have even less time to consider job applications, especially if there is no job posting.

If job applicants have a genuinely compelling story to tell, some candidates might decide to send over their sales pitch in application letter form , because they know that someone wont spend the time digging through their formal resume for the relevant details. Our application letter sample at the end of this chapter offers a flavor of how it might be worded.

Another type of letter sent when no open position is advertised is called a letter of interest, letter of intent or statement of interest. A letter of interest is very similar to a cover letter, but its written when no open position is advertised. The usual advice for a letter of interest is to hold it to one page and include a resume. This is different from the so-called application letter, which is generally supposed to be two pages and is sent without a resume.

For example, if you teach English as a second language and you live in Spain, you may become aware of a school that teaches ESL. Even though its not advertising any jobs for new teachers, you want the school to know that you would be interested in working there and you have the skills to do so. In such a case, you might send a letter of interest and a resume. For more info, see our blog on Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter.

What Is Cover Letter

A Cover letter is usually a single-page letter containing three-four paragraphs written to a recruiter, who may be a manager or the HR Department, or to the organization or company offering job vacancies. Good cover letters encourage the person reading it to go ahead and read your resume.

Cover letters are usually formatted like business letters but have a more friendly tone. They explain a persons interest in a specific job and that he has the qualifications required to fill that post.

Usually, people send a cover letter as a part of their resume by default, but cover letters are an optional part of the job application process or could even be required as a part of the job application depending on the recruiter.

Cover letters often give a chance to the applicant to demonstrate his personality through his words before showcasing his talents and skillsets through the resume. Hence, cover letters act as a start point before the employer reads the resume.

Cover Letters usually contain bits of the information that are included in the resume. Hence, sending a cover letter alongside your resume could project the eagerness that a person has in getting the specified job.

Cover letters help the employers form an attitude or impression about the candidate, which may or may not, lead him to decide whether to open the resume. Always, a good study needs to be made about the requirements of the position you are applying for, and the cover letter needs to be drafted accordingly.

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