Difference Between Resume and Cover Letter

Resume and Cover letter are two documents that you come across every time you apply for a job. These documents summarize your qualifications, and skills and present them in front of recruiters before you meet them personally. And in this article I will discuss the Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter.

Despite being two completely separate documents, they share the common objectives i.e to present you the best possible way and to demonstrate all your qualities while helping you get a position within the company. Moreover, they are supposed to complement each other. But, in spite of their similar nature, it is important to highlight that there are significant differences between them that you must understand before writing a cover letter or resume.

In this article, you will get a detailed answer to the question; “What is the difference between a resume and a cover letter?” You will also take stock of what resume and cover letter should contain, highlighting their main differences.

What is a Resume?

A resume is a formal document that contains all essential information about a person seeking a job opportunity in a specific organization. It incorporates detailed information about applicant’s industrial experience, academic qualifications, and personal interests, such as hobbies.

In a sense, it is true a summary of your career and academic journey.

You should draft your resume in a way such that while reading it, the recruiter can quickly access all relevant information and skills which prove that you are an ideal candidate for the position.

Optionally add your passion if they are an asset to the position. In a quick reading, a human resource manager must know who you are and what you have done.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is another official document used by applicants to answer one question; Why he/she is a perfect fit for the job. It is usually the first document a human resource manager read. The purpose of a well-drafted cover letter is to convince the employer to evaluate the resume.

You need to understand that a cover letter does not use elements of a resume and write them differently. It is not a paraphrasing. Instead, a cover letter highlights new elements of your life and completes the resume. The main purpose of this document is to introduce you, but above all to explain why you are interested in a position and for a company.

Your cover letter must be written professionally putting aside the skill listings, but using concrete examples of your professional background that support them.

Remember to use a readable font. Also, remain as standard as possible, both in the layout and in the choice of fonts.

Your cover letter must complement your resume. One does not go without the other.

Similarities Between Resume and Cover Letter

A resume and a cover letter share some similarities. We talked about it a little earlier in this article; the first resemblance is in their common goal to show us in our best light. But that’s not all…

Length of the two documents: With a few exceptions, must be written in one A4 size paper. Exceptions that confirm the rule include the doctoral resume and cover letter, longer than the traditional professional one which can exceed a page according to your focus.

Format of documents: Indeed, the cover letter and the resume must be sent in PDF format and not in Word format. However, if you are sending an email application, your cover letter should be the body of your email.

Difference Between Resume and Cover Letter

Here are some main differences between a cover letter and a resume.

Details, Resume vs. Cover Letter: One of the main differences is the amount of detail that each document contains. A cover letter is usually less detailed than the resume. Every information present resume is completely elaborated with respect to the details and achievements.

It is worth noting that the cover letters contain only greeting, introduction, body, and conclusion, while at the same time they refer the reader to obtain detailed information on the resume.

Length, Resume vs. Cover Letter: Due to the variable amount of details contained in these two documents, their lengths vary. A cover letter contains a small amount of information that is less detailed. Therefore, human resources experts recommend that cover letters should not exceed one page. This is not the case for resumes, which contain detailed information about an individual.

The average length of the resume should be between two and three pages. It is important to highlight that an extensive resume probably discourages the potential employer to read, while a short resume indicates poor education and work history, which again represents a negative outlook. So, make sure you draft it correctly.

Content, Resume vs. Cover Letter: It is worth noting that the cover letters and resumes contain different information that is transmitted to the employer for considerations. Cover letters generally contain information about a person, the work experience, the job profile, and professional goals.

A resume contains several different information that includes contact information, academic training, elaborated work experience, skills, interests, publishing, and hobbies, etc. that can position or represent an individual as the most appropriate for an opportunity of specific employment as compared to other people who have employed for the same job.

Purpose, Resume vs. Cover Letter: The purpose is one of the most vital differences between cover letter and resume. Purpose clearly states that both the documents cannot replace each other, but complement each other. The main purpose of the cover letter is to present the applicant and explain his interest and his aptitude for the position. It is a better instrument to convey subjective information like why the organization appeals to you, why did you show your interest for the position, how can you uplift the quality of the company etc.

The resume is used to provide information about an applicant to the employer. However, students use a resume when applying for academic admissions, jobs, and educational opportunities and scientific or research positions.

Format, Resume vs. Cover Letter: Both cover letters and resumes have a different format. A cover letter has a professional and established format, which includes indicating the recipient’s address, address, greeting, subject, body, and conclusion of the letter. Check our visual guide to cover letter

download Visual Cover Letter for quick reference

Whereas, resumes are tailored and can follow the format in which an individual wants their resumes to look like. You can include info graphics, colors, non-conventional fonts, etc. but the original resume stays serious and professional while being creative. In the fields of marketing and communication, creative resume is particularly appreciated.

A resume may contain a photo of you, but not in the cover letter. Remember however that the photo on the resume is not mandatory and it is up to you whether it is useful and relevant.

Despite the different methods and ways of writing a resume, all necessary information should appear, including educational background, work history, contact information, hobbies, and interests.

Categories/Types, Resume vs. Cover Letter: Finally, cover letters and resumes vary in types or categories. There are three types of cover letters, while there is only one type of resume.

Categories of the cover letters are:

  1. Letter of application, which responds to a job opening.
  2. The prospecting letter, which investigates possible vacancies in any organization.
  3. The network letters, which are designed by individuals to request help in the job search.

Whereas, there are no such categories of resumes.

So, these were some of the similarities and differences in the cover letter and resume. I hope you find this blog useful. You can comment below if you have any further queries.