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Resume vs Cover Letter: Main Differences Between

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Resume vs Cover Letter

Do you know that a resume and a cover letter actually differ? Even though both of these documents are essential when applying for a job, it is critical that you know how to differentiate them in order to write them for the right purpose. Resume vs cover letter should be properly defined so that you understand what aim each of them has. When writing either a resume or a cover letter, you should demonstrate your skills and competencies in order to prove to the employer or HR manager that you are worth being considered for the position. Ideally, both a resume and a cover letter should pinpoint that you have skills that are relevant and corresponding to the job opening.

As you start working on the resume or a cover letter, be sure that you should come to realize the resume vs cover letter structure and mode or organization. Moreover, it is essential to adhere to the template and follow the general requirements as well as the resume cover letter format.

First of all, a resume and a cover letter are not the same and each of them has a different structure and purpose. Second, you need to make sure that you do not repeat the information from the resume in the cover letter. These should be complementary documents that focus on your different angles.

One of the biggest differences is that a cover letter is optional and is not always required from a job applicant. However, if you attach a cover letter, your chances of being invited for an interview may increase.

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The major difference between cover letter and resume is that the resume focuses on the main points concerning your educational background and work experience, soft and hard skills, talents and achievements, as well as your address, contact information, obtained academic degrees, etc. On the other hand, a cover letter provides a more detailed introduction of your persona to the employer. The core aim of writing a cover letter is to establish a connection with your target readers. You should as well focus on how the company will benefit from having you on their team. All in all, both of the documents are equally important in the job application process. At the same time, if they are poorly written and if the structure and requirements are not followed, they can also make a negative impression on the employer. Therefore, be sure that you adhere to the proper writing style, business etiquette, formatting, and other criteria.

Resume vs Cover Letter: Differences in Formatting


  • should be easy to read, comprehend, and navigate, s make sure it has clear sections, headings, and subheadings;
  • it should have a header with your contact information and full name;
  • it should be brief and logically structured;
  • different experiences should be outlined in the bullet points or list format;

Cover Letter:

  • should be written in coherent text, should be logical and split into logical paragraphs that unite a single idea;
  • should follow business letter formatting style;
  • should provide contact information of the job applicant and the job giver;
  • should have the standard structure: introduction, the main body, and conclusion;
  • should emphasize on specific aspects how you fit the needs of the job opening and how you will benefit the company;
  • should provide detailed information about you without repeating the facts that were already mentioned in the resume.

resume vs cover letter

Resume vs Cover Letter: Objective and Subjective Comparison

Resumes provide facts to the hiring managers and employers and are more objective in nature. On the contrary, cover letters provide more subjective information about the accomplishments, duties, and responsibilities. Cover letters provide more examples and illustrations on how you managed to achieve something, what experience you have, what qualifications you have, etc. At the same time, if you wonder whether you should write a cover letter or resume first, please consider that not all employers and hiring managers read cover letters. Therefore, place more attention to writing resumes first.

Resume vs Cover Letter: Style of Writing

Resumes and cover letter present information differently and they actually focus on different aspects of what you plan to demonstrate to your employers. When you are working on a cover letter, make sure that you present mere facts about yourself. As such, be clear and precise when writing about who you are, what you do, when you do/ did something, and how you do something. What can a cover letter explain that a resume cannot? It focuses more on your personality and provides a deeper picture of you as a personality. When you write a cover letter, you do not strive to be as concise and brief as possible. On the other hand, you properly focus on your motivation of applying, on the reasons of choosing a specific company, etc. Moreover, it is vital that you pinpoint why you fit for the position and what soft and hard skills you have. When writing a resume or a cover letter, think of what your employer expects of the job applicants and try to meet those expectations with your writing.

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Personalization of Information and Professional Attitude

Another aspect that differentiates a cover letter from a resume is the personalization and professionalism. It is an undeniable fact that both a resume and a cover letter should be written in a professional manner. However, cover letters are more adjusted to specific requirements of the job opening you are interested in. Apart from that, a cover letter should refer to specific positions and people you are contacting. As such, you need to indicate the name of your hiring manager when starting your cover letter. As such, you would rather begin with “Dear Mr. Williamson” rather than “To whom it may concern.” In case you are unaware of the full name of the hiring manager or if you are not aware of the precise formulation of the job position, you should carefully check the company’s website – you will surely find there relevant information about the position. As an option, you can search on such platforms as LinkedIn.

Make Sure You Provide Unique Information

Do not repeat the same facts both in your resume and a cover letter. Mention certain things only once. Just imagine that you are a hiring manager, a recruiter or a job giver. Imagine that you receive dozens of resumes and cover letters each day, where job candidates provide virtually the same information. Would you like to read these documents? I bet no. Therefore, be attentive when writing your cover letters and resumes.

Write a cover letter only in case if you have some additional information to say. As such, a cover letter should complement the information provided in the CV. The core function of a cover letter is to market you as a job candidate to the hiring manager and your potential employer. Moreover, a successfully written cover letter helps you to stand out of the crowd of numerous other job applicants. To make sure you have provided relevant information, carefully read the job description as well as the job requirements and expected skills. Ensure that you know what your employer is looking for and then adjust your cover letter to the needs. Make sure you use keywords from the job description in the resume and cover letter. The information you provide should well reflect your professional skills and abilities. If you want to better understand how to write a resume and a cover letter, feel free to search for some resume cover letter examples on the Internet.

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What Is Common between a Resume and a Cover Letter?

As you finish reading this article, you may see that the difference between a resume and a cover letter is actually huge. At first, these two documents may seem to you as very similar but in fact, they perform different functions and serve different purposes. Therefore, bear in mind all the peculiarities when working on them.

At the same time, you can trace some similarities that lead to the common requirements: you need to provide relevant and appropriate keywords as well as be impeccable in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. In order to be sure what keywords are appropriate, it is recommended to carefully read the job opening or a job description and highlight the keywords there.

In conclusion, despite the fact that a resume and a cover letter are different in terms of content, format, organization, and purposes, you should come to realize their equal importance in the process of applying for a job. Before submitting them to the recruiter or a hiring manager, make sure that you scan the documents for plagiarism as well as conduct spell-check. It is a must that both a resume and a cover letter are free from grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.

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