Resumes vs. Cover Letters

When both the Cover Letter and the Resume solve the common purpose of illustrating whether a candidate has the right skillset to excel at the job that he or she is applying to or not, then what is the difference between the two?

However similar purpose these two documents may solve, they have significant distinctions. Though they may be complementary to each other yet they have to be unique. A resume may contain the skillset of the candidate in the form of bullet points but a cover letter has to contain paragraphs.

A resume is usually submitted with a job application. Although submitting a cover letter with a resume for a job may increase the chances of a candidate being shortlisted for the interview yet it is not mandatory.

What are the differences between a Cover Letter and a Resume ?

A resume usually is meant to illustrate a general summary of your work experience whereas a cover letter, along with giving a summary of your past work experiences also relates all that to the current job, mentioning how you as a candidate are fit for that position.

A resume is a document that summarizes all our skills, achievements and work experience onto a piece of paper.

It includes all the work experience, educational qualifications, certifications, contact information, achievements and skills acquired.All this information is significant to the employer as it helps him or her to understand about your work experience and background and to analyze you as a prospective candidate. This also provides the employer with a background of the prospective employee.

A resume is typically written in the third person and uses as few words as possible to summarize the entire information. The resume format basically includes your personal information, description of the post that you were handling, job titles, dates of employment, educational qualifications, contact details and any other appropriate information about you that you feel is relevant.

You can also add some numbers and some bullet points that help the employer to understand your resume properly and make a good impression on the employer. In Fact it is a good idea to illustrate your achievements or job roles handled through numbers.

For example: Listing your job role as headed a team of 15 direct reports adds value to your candidature instead of stating that you headed a small team because adding this number here is giving the exact idea to your employer even before your interview as to what you did in your past job.

If you are writing a cover letter you should highlight some points like the qualification and skills that you have and are best suited to the job that you are applying to. Many times a cover letter helps you to show that your qualifications match the type of job for which you are applying.

Through Cover Letter you as a candidate get an additional opportunity to show off your skills and qualification in the best possible way and also you can mention as to how you can be an asset to the organization.

A cover letter follows a format similar to that of a formal letter and unlike the resume it is written in the forms of paragraphs which also includes a salutation, an opening paragraph, the main body and then the closing. Although a cover letter is written in the first person, writing “I” too many times should be avoided.

How to make a Resume?

An employer spends not more than a minute on an average on each resume so it is important to mention all the important points in the most concise way. A resume should provide all the necessary information in detail about your experiences in work and education.

The type of skills that you have earned during each job has to be mentioned in the resume and some specific roles that can give enough details about you to the employer and also illustrate that you have added value to the roles assigned to you in the past. This can form a positive image of you as a candidate in front of the employer.

Commonly, a resume should be presented in bullet forms; this will make your document expressive, impressive and easy to understand and will also help the employer go through your entire resume quickly.

The major difference between the cover letter and the resume is that a resume should be more scannable and easy to navigate. Use the various editing options available like bold, italics and underline to demonstrate the important points.

A resume should always stand as a professional document contrary to the cover letter where a does of personalization can be added. Though one can do away with a cover letter while applying for a job application, a resume is mandatory and you won’t stand a chance at bagging the job without it.

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How to make a Cover Letter?

A cover letter, just like a formal letter, contains three to four paragraphs. When you are writing a cover letter you should include a short introduction of yourself, encourage the reader to read your resume and specially mention what type of job you are applying for. The employer will usually consult your resume to match with your cover letter to ensure that the details mentioned are correct.

If you are writing a cover letter for a job, look at the requirements that they are asking for and then express yourself through your cover letter that you are perfect for the post. A cover letter helps to explain your background as mentioned in a resume and helps the employer to understand why you are the perfect person for the job.

A cover letter should usually follow a friendly and a conversational tone. Though you may mention some of your skills on your cover letter too, make sure that your cover letter is not a copy of your resume. Avoid being repetitive as it might create a bad image of you in front of the employer.

Although a cover letter is as long as 3-4 paragraphs but make sure that these paragraphs don’t keep on telling stories and are short and crisp as reading them will consume some time of the employer.

A cover letter is basically your first point of contact and hence must leave a lasting impression to at least bag you the interview.

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Subjective Information can be Conveyed by Cover Letter

Basically Subjective Information refers to the objective information along with the attention on internal and personal information. A cover letter is a better option to convey the subjective information like your personal opinion, interpretations, points of view and judgement.You can mention certain things that you couldn’t mention in a resume. You can attract employers with the help of a cover letter that helps you to sell your qualification whereas a resume provides all the details that are already mentioned in your cover letter.

A resume is an answer to the 4 W’s: What, When, Why and Who something that includes the facts. Whereas, on the other hand a cover letter gives you a separate platform to express yourself in a more horizontal and subjective manner.

This document adds a special type of attraction to the employer and might increase your chances of getting selected for the position that you have applied for.A cover letter has to be short, focussed and clear on what you can offer the employer. You should not share any wrong information or anything else that doesn’t connect you with the job. You can also drop your name in the cover letter.

The things that you should not include in a cover letter are the wrong company name, long paragraphs, negative comments about your current or past employer, anything that is not true, information that is not related to your job and your salary requirements.

You can also use a template to make your cover letter more attractive. A template may also act as a toner. The things that an employer looks at in a cover letter are the achievements related to the role, the genuine experience.

On an average about 250 resumes are sent for a single job posting, and to be the one to bag that job, you have to be unique and have to stand out. And understanding the core difference between a resume and a cover letter and preparing them with the best of your efforts are the first stepping stones to that job.

Visit our series "The HR Talk” where we help you know everything about your job interview from the recruiters. Try CV Owl as we help you furnish a fully-formatted in a chronological order resume or cover letter.

You can also try our CV Review service, through which you get a CV writing expert reviewing the insight of your CV and advising you, so that you can make your CV stand out .

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