Resumes and cover letters are written and formatted in different ways, but the purpose is the same: to impress the hiring manager. The primary purpose of your cover letter is to support and enhance your resume.
Together they are the best combination to outstand your job application from others. Making your job search experience easier, the perfect resume and cover letter can help you land your dream job more quickly.
The Difference between Cover Letter and Resume
In comparison, a resume is longer as it describes your job role in detail. It explains each one of your work experiences in an explanatory and informative method. On the other hand, a cover letter gives a gist of why you are valuable to the company and gives insight into your personality.
Let’s go through the differences in detail and how they are different from each other.
A resume is meant to give a prospective employer a sense of your previous experience and abilities. It is ideal for this purpose because most employers look for consistent work history and upward trends. It appropriately highlights your qualifications by reflecting your professional background and experience.
On the other hand, a cover letter for job application is used for marketing oneself. Its main objective is to convey to the employer your interest in the position and the business, as well as your belief that you can offer valuable skills. A cover letter introduces you to an employer by outlining your qualifications and interest in the position. It gives the recruiter more details about your professional background and explains your desire for applying for the job. It essentially serves as a resume supplement.
Another factor that differentiates resumes and cover letters is how they are formatted and sectioned. A resume is divided into sections and mainly includes:
- Contact Information
- Professional Summary
- Work Experience
Each section of the resume should be identified with a professional heading and contain relevant information. The document essentially follows the guidelines for the chosen resume format, which may be a combination, functional, or chronological.
Apart from the professional summary/objective, the sentences are quite brief, and the job role description sentences are in bullet points with less than ten words in each.
In contrast, cover letters are written in a usual letter style. It includes:
- Addressee’s information
- Concluding paragraph
- And valediction
A second note line can be added after your signature at the bottom. The intro and body paragraphs have three to four maximum long sentences, mostly consisting of 15-30 words. A resume cover letter must also be single-spaced to give it a professional appearance. Only in the paragraph breaks should a cover letter use double spacing. You can simply add a blank line to the end of each paragraph.
The tone of the resume is quite formal and is written from a third person’s perspective. This is because the applicant tracking system (ATS) scans your resume before the recruiter even looks at it. And since it is a computerized system reading your document instead of a human, the selected tone must be more professional.
“Identified user issues, diagnosed problems, and delivered workable solutions. “
However, the cover letter is written in the first-person’s perspective, using the word ‘I’ wherever appropriate. Moreover, it is written in a conversational and convincing tone, for example:
“I am eager to fulfill my duties in this position at your organization with the same exceptional results I delivered during the previous seven years with IBF Technologies.”
A resume is typically one, two, or more pages long, whereas a cover letter hardly fills a single page.
Your resume’s length should be determined by your experience and the type of job you are looking for. There is no set standard for how many pages should be on a resume. The document must accurately depict the applicant’s achievements.
It is recommended that the cover letter should be slightly longer than half a page. Managers give shorter cover letters more attention; thus, never make a cover letter longer than two pages.
The purpose of the resume cover letter is to introduce yourself to the recruiter and pique their interest in you as a candidate. This is why it is brief, direct, and customized to a particular job opening rather than elaborative. It must balance the message’s importance with the length. The message should not appear as a long story in front of the recruiter’s eyes and should have relevant keywords that take up their attention. Typically, its word count should be around 200-400.
You might be wondering which one is more important if we put cover letter vs resume. The answer is they are both equally important. It’s just about how they both work together to land you an interview (in their ways).
Importance of Cover Letter
Now that you know the differences between a resume and cover letter, it is time to understand why you should include a cover letter in your job application. According to research, 56% employers prefer resumes that are accompanied by a cover letter, making it an essential component of your job-search strategy.
Let’s go through the reasons why a cover letter is essential:
Gives You Resume an Edge
Do you know why cover letters make you stand out from other applicants? It is because the employers are impressed seeing your dedication and enthusiasm to join the company. The mere fact that you put effort into writing one gives you an edge over others.
Catches Recruiter’s Attention
By highlighting your skills and qualities in an exemplary manner, a cover letter does a great job of marketing your skills to catch the hiring manager’s attention. Remember, an employer having a good first impression of you ultimately increases your chances of getting the job.
Gives Insight into Your Personality
Compared to a resume, a cover letter for job application allows you to elaborate on your personality traits. You can use it to describe your attractive and intriguing characteristics, including leadership, time management, and other qualities that will benefit the growth of the business. Also, by describing your soft skills, you can show employers how you can adapt to the company’s environment.
Builds a Relationship with the Recruiter
Since the cover letter for resume is in a formal conversational tone, it makes the recruiter feel like the applicant is talking to them. This way, the employer easily understands your personality, professional accomplishments, and motivation behind achieving them and eventually builds a positive relationship.
Satisfies Recruiter’s Concern
With a well-written cover letter, the recruiter gets all the answers to his raised concerns. All the content written in it answers first-hand interview questions such as:
- Why should we hire you?
- What makes you the best fit for this job?
- And, a very common one: what are your strengths?
So, in a short time, you will be able to answer all the hiring manager’s questions even before the interview takes place.
Shows Ability to Follow Instructions
An employer can judge a person’s ability to follow instructions by judging how the cover letter is tailored to their needs. A well-written, concise cover letter demonstrates to an employer that you can follow any given directions. They are excellent for demonstrating that you are aware of the job’s requirements and have the abilities to fulfill them
Why Should You Include A Cover Letter?
We cannot emphasize enough how a cover letter impacts your job application. If you are applying for a new generation company or an organization with traditional culture, a cover letter for resume is a must to include.
You must be thinking, why do I need a cover letter? Does my organization need one?
Well, 98% of the time, you should attach a cover letter with your resume. The recruiters might not read it but always expect the applicants to submit one. Your chances of hiring will be significantly improved as you will be able to stand out from other applicants with comparable qualifications and resumes. The only situation where you shouldn’t include one is when the job ad specifically mentions not to.
Your Cover Letter Does More!
Moreover, a cover letter is best if you have some critical information to share. It could be a career gap, the need for relocation, your decision to change careers, or anything else. It is also useful if you have any personal referrals or connections in the company. If you are going on a referral basis, it is essential to mention it at the start or end of the body part of the cover letter. In short, a cover letter is an extremely useful tool for mentioning all or any of the information that does not fit well with writing in a resume but must be mentioned.
So, don’t stop after you have created your resume. Make a cover letter to go with it. Make an extra effort to make your cover letter look professional and include skills and qualifications relevant to your resume. That doesn’t mean you have to repeat what’s already there; just make it unique and appealing!