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What Is the Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter?
- Resume vs. Cover Letter
What a Resume Includes
What a cover letter includes.
- Use a Cover Letter to be Subjective
Prostock-Studio / iStock / Getty Images Plus
What's the difference between a resume and a cover letter? Both a cover letter and a resume share the common purpose of proving that you have the right skills to excel at the job for which you are applying.
However, there are clear distinctions between the structure and intent of the two documents. Job seekers should view their cover letter and resume as a complementary but unique pair of documents. That is, your cover letter should be more than just bullet points regurgitated from the resume.
Many employers require that a resume is submitted with a job application.
A cover letter may not be required. But, including one when you apply for a job can help your chances of getting selected for an interview.
The Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter
You can think of your resume as a general summary of your work experience and your cover letter as a summary of your work experience as it relates to the job at hand.
A resume is a document that itemizes your employment history. It summarizes the jobs you have held, the education you have attained, certifications, skills, and other quantifiable information about your background and work experience.
The most common resume format is a list with your contact information, and experience section that includes job titles, position descriptions, dates of employment, an education section, and other relevant information.
Typically, a resume is written in the third person and uses as few words as possible to summarize the experience. So, instead of writing "I supervised the large buying team at XYZ company" a resume would have a bullet point that says, "Supervised 19-person buying team."
Whenever possible, you'll want to use numbers on your resume, such as the number of people you supervised, percent sales increased, the number of customers helped, etc.
A cover letter is written to highlight the qualifications you have for the job for which you are applying. It is used to provide the employer with additional information as to why you are a good candidate for the job. The main function of your cover letter is to show off how your qualification makes you a match for the job.
A cover letter is written in a letter format including a salutation, several paragraphs, and a closing. Unlike a resume, you should use the first-person to write your cover letter . (That said, avoid using "I" too much.)
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.
A cover letter is a short three or four paragraph document. It should be written with the assumption that employers will consult your resume to match it to the statement you are making in the letter about your qualifications.
A cover letter will help employers to interpret your background as represented on the resume and will help prove how your previous experiences qualify you for a job.
When you are writing a cover letter for a job, first review the job requirements that are detailed in the job posting. Use your cover letter to explain how you meet those criteria.
Use a Cover Letter to Convey Subjective Information
A resume states the facts – who, what, when, and how. In contrast, a cover letter provides an opportunity to explain why you are qualified for the job. This document adds a bit of color and personality and is intended to persuade employers that you're a good fit for the position at hand.
A cover letter is a better vehicle than a resume to convey more subjective information like the basis of your interest in a position, how your values motivate you to pursue a job, or why the culture of a company appeals to you.
Your cover letters will help you sell your qualifications to prospective employers while your resume provides the details to back up the information included in your letters.
How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 + Examples
After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!
You’ve perfected your resume.
You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.
You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.
But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.
Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.
- What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
- How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
- How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
- What excellent cover letter examples look like
New to cover letter writing? Give our resumes 101 video a watch before diving into the article!
So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .
A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header - Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!
As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In certain cases, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Full Address
- Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.
Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..
- Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.
See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
So now, let’s make our previous example shine:
My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.
See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
So, let’s get started...
Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.
Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:
- Google Search
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.
After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary .
Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
- What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?
So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.
Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.
Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.
You’d write something like:
I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device.
I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):
I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.
See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.
Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.
So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.
Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.
In the final paragraph, you want to:
- Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
- Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.
And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:
So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.
Step #8 - Use the right formal closing
Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:
- Best Regards,
- Kind Regards,
And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.
Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Professional email
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
- Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Did you identify the core requirements?
- Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?
Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
- Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?
Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).
College Student Cover Letter Example
Middle Management Cover Letter Example
Career Change Cover Letter Example
Management Cover Letter Example
Senior Executive Cover Letter Example
Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .
Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.
...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.
If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.
Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:
- A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
- A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
- Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
- There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
- Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations
At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…
- How to Write a Motivational Letter
- How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
- Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
Cover Letter vs. Resume: What’s the Difference?
There are many steps to getting the perfect job — and creating a compelling job application is one of them. Having a well-written resume and an eye-catching cover letter can take a lot of stress and uncertainty out of the job-hunting process.
Today, we are looking into the differences between a resume and cover letter and exploring some of the key practices for making these documents the best they can be.
Table of Contents
Cover letter vs. resume: what’s the difference?
A resume and cover letter typically come hand in hand. You need both these documents to successfully apply for a job. So, what is the difference between a cover letter and a resume and what information should you include in each one?
A resume is a document that summarizes your professional experience as a job candidate. The word “resume” actually comes from the French “résumé” and means “summary”. It focuses on your qualifications (work experience, skills, accomplishments, etc.) and helps showcase your abilities to convince the hiring manager that you are the right person for the job.
A typical resume includes five main parts
- Contact details : this is where you list the best ways to get in touch with you. This section generally includes your full name and professional credentials, email and phone number and, possibly, a link to your professional social media or portfolio.
- Summary : here, you can focus on your knowledge and experience and include your most valued skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Professional experience : in this section, you will need to list your previously held positions: starting with your latest job.
- Educational background : this part of your resume explains your academic qualifications: degrees, professional certificates, awards, etc.
- Additional information : here, you can include any other relevant information that doesn’t fit into the sections above. A lot of HR professionals suggest using this section for references, professional achievements and awards.
Learn more about how to write a resume .
A cover letter is a document that you send together with your resume that aims to introduce you to the hiring manager and briefly summarize your most important skills and professional experience. A good cover letter will get the HR professional interested in the rest of your application and make you stand out among other applicants.
A typical cover letter is about one page long and includes the following sections
- Header : this is where you include your contact details including your full name and professional credentials, phone number and email and links to your professional special networks or portfolio (optional)
- Introduction : here, you should get the HR professional “hooked” and make them interested in you as a job candidate. Mention your most relevant qualifications and skills and explain (briefly) why you see yourself as the best candidate for the job.
- Main body : after a condensed introduction highlighting your key skills, you can get into a bit more detail about your expertise in the main body of the cover letter. Here, you can go on to mention that you are aware of all the responsibilities that come with the job and have the capacity to handle them excellently.
- Conclusion : a cover letter should generally end with a call to action. You can mention when you will be able to start the new job and say that you are waiting for feedback on your application. Don’t forget to thank the hiring manager for their time for reading your letter.
Cover letter example
Learn more about how to write a cover letter .
Is it OK to send a resume without a cover letter?
While a cover letter is often looked at as an optional addition to the resume, it’s not quite the case. In fact, most job ads these days require a cover letter — and a failure to include one will probably result in your application being rejected. Even if it’s not specifically stated in the job ad that a cover letter is needed, you should definitely include one with your application. Not having a cover letter is simply a missed opportunity as it gives you extra “space” to make your case that you are the best candidate for the job.
Do you put a resume or cover letter first?
Most employers will scan your resume first. They will do so to make sure you have the relevant skills and experience for the position you are applying for. This is especially true for fields that require a specific set of hard skills like IT and engineering. While they may look at your resume first, a cover letter can help them fill in the blanks and get a more comprehensive picture of who you are as a professional. It can also be what makes you stand out among other candidates and actually gets you the job.
Is the cover letter part of the resume?
As we’ve mentioned above, a cover letter is a one-page document that goes alongside your resume — not inside of it or instead of it. You shouldn’t insert your cover letter into your resume and it should always go as a separate document with its own title. A typical cover letter is 250 to 400 words long.
Do you still need a cover letter in 2023?
Yes, cover letters are still important. Even if the employer doesn’t open your cover letter, they will still appreciate it being attached to your application. A cover letter is a good way to highlight that you are really serious about the job you are applying for. And, as we’ve mentioned earlier, it gives you an extra opportunity for self-presentation.
Letter of interest vs. cover letter
Quite often, when you read about cover letters, you may also come across the term “letter of interest”. While these are sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually quite a few differences between the two.
A letter of interest is sent to a company and indicates that you are interested in working for them. It doesn’t have to be sent to an open job offer — in fact, there may actually be no open positions at the company at the time. A letter of interest, true to its name, expresses your interest in a company.
A cover letter, on the other hand, is typically sent out together with your resume in response to a specific job offer advertised by the company. It’s an essential part of your job application.
To learn more about cover letters and letters of interest, take a look at this article: Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter: Difference, Tips and Examples .
Tips for writing your resume and cover letter
Here are a few quick tips for writing a good cover letter and resume.
Tips for writing a resume
- Use the keywords from the job ad. These days, a lot of companies use resume-filtering software before going through the applications by hand. To make sure your resume doesn’t get blocked by such programs, use the same key phrases that are used in the job description if they are in line with your expertise and background.
- Highlight key points. Hiring managers are generally very busy people that have to look at tens or even hundreds of resumes every day. Make their job easier by formatting your resume in a way that highlights your most relevant skills and experience.
- Be strategic. Think what information to include in your resume and make sure it’s relevant to the position you are applying for. It’s best to keep your resume as concise as possible and list work experience that best matches the expertise required for the new job.
Tips for writing a cover letter
- Customize your cover letter for the job you are applying for. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is making a “one-size-fits-all” cover letter and sending it out to all the companies you are applying to. What is the purpose of a cover letter? The main purpose of a cover letter is to make a positive impression on the hiring manager — and the only way to do that is by writing a letter that is targeted for the position you are applying for.
- Don’t be vague. Your cover letter is a document that needs to impress your potential employer. This means that it’s best not to use general phrases and instead focus on specifics. Include examples, achievements from your previous jobs, numbers and more.
- Keep it brief. A cover letter should be a one-page document and acts as a concentrated introduction of your best professional qualities. Make sure to only include the most important and relevant information. Read over your cover letter before you send it out and remove any non-essential text.
Cover letter vs Resume. Summing things up
Both a resume and a cover letter are essential elements of a successful job application. A resume is a summary of your professional life, while a cover letter is an introduction of your skills and qualities that best match the position you are applying for.
Even if the job description doesn’t specifically mention that you need to include a cover letter with your application, it’s best to have one ready and send it out together with your resume. It will demonstrate to the employees the seriousness of your intent and give you the opportunity to explain why you are the best choice for this position.
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Cover Letter vs Resume: 7 Key Differences and the Art of Writing Them (+Examples)
- Nikoleta Kuhejda ,
- Updated November 10, 2023 7 min read
Here's an idea: the resume vs cover letter is a lot like salt vs pepper. Let me explain.
Your resume is like salt — it's a key ingredient required to prepare any dish. Or in this case, to score a job.
The cover letter, on the other hand, is like pepper — you use it to give your dish (your resume) a bit more flavor.
But in the end, salt and pepper work best when used together. Because of that, it might seem a bit silly to compare the two. Let's do it anyway!
Let’s start with an infographic that shows the key differences between the two.
What is a resume?
Resume is the most common career document that job seekers use. If you’re going to apply for a job, you'll be required to provide one.
In the simplest terms, the resume is a concise summary of your education, work history, skills, credentials and achievements . It gives hiring managers a rough idea about who you are as a professional, what’s your work history and your key achievements.
It’s usually one page long and written in chronological order.
But in general, you have three options to choose from — besides chronological, there’s also functional or hybrid resume format . It’s up to you to figure out which one works the best for you.
What should a resume include?
- Contact information: Your resume should begin with your contact details. Add your full name, title, address (optional), email address and phone number. In some countries, it's also common to include birthdate, nationality and photo.
- Professional summary or resume objective : Describe yourself in three sentences. Open with your job title and highlight your key skills and qualifications.
- Work experience: The most important part of your resume. List relevant work history in reverse chronological order. Add 3-5 bullet points under each entry to describe your key achievements.
- Education: If you’re a seasoned professional, it’s enough for you to mention your highest degree and school name. If you’re a student or a fresh graduate, feel free to include more details like relevant coursework, grants, or extracurricular activities.
- Skills: Pick relevant skills and divide them into several subsections like computer skills, soft skills, languages, and others.
- Additional sections: Certifications, courses, awards, strengths, publications, conferences, hobbies, social media, references, etc. All of these are voluntary.
If you're not sure what to write in specific sections of your resume, you can just check our step-by-step resume guide .
But if you prefer watching videos to reading, you might also like this 5-minute video guide to writing the perfect resume.
What is a cover letter?
Also something that you use to help you get a job… But!
Firstly, it's not always required.
Secondly, even if it is, it only provides additional information to your resume and should never repeat the same content.
I t allows you to explain other things that are impossible to express through the resume, such as :
- explanation why you’re applying for the position
- supporting evidence to why you’d make a good fit
- examples how you can be beneficial to the company
- details about employment gap or less work experience
- your personal story
- your motivation and ambitions
You normally attach it along with your resume and it serves as your introduction to a hiring manager. The ideal cover letter length is 3-4 paragraphs.
What should a cover letter include?
- Date and contact information: List your contact details such as full name, title, email, phone number, address (optional), and the date at the top of the page. Also, add company’s information such as name of the company, department and address.
- Headline: Use numbers, questions, or interesting adjectives. Something like "5 Ways I Can Help You Improve Your Company’s Marketing."
- Personalized greeting: Research the hiring manager's name online — LinkedIn is the perfect tool for this. If you fail to find it, use “ Dear Sir/Madam” .
- 1st Paragraph: Introduction: Use this space to introduce yourself in more detail and explain why this job is exciting to you.
- 2nd Paragraph: Why you’re a great fit: Write a short summary of your career and skills, and tailor it to fit the company's needs.
- 3rd Paragraph: Why the company is a great fit for you: Let them know why do they appeal to you. What excites you about working there? What do you want to learn?
- Closing paragraph: Finish strong and repeat why you’re a great fit (points 5 and 6). Also, explain how and when you’re going to contact them.
- Signature: Use a formal sign-off like " Yours faithfully" (US English) or " Yours sincerely" (British English) + your full name.
Take the readers on an exciting journey, don't tell them what they already know! Just try to answer the basic questions: Why you? Why this company? Why this role?
7 differences between the cover letter and resume
Type of document: When you’re applying for a job, you're normally asked to provide a resume. That’s 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 resume should 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 you’re passionate about your industry or why you’d make a good fit. It’s a place where you can show a bit of your personality.
Format: A resume is divided into multiple sections like Work history , Education , Skills , etc. and should use bullet points under each section. On the other hand, a cover letter is written in a letter format and consists of 3-4 full paragraphs. It includes heading, salutation, introduction, body content, conclusion, and your signature.
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.
Length: Your resume should be one page long. This of course, depends on where you are in your career. But your cover letter should never go past 3/4 of a page (no matter what your career level is).
Christy's word of advice
Even if the cover letter is not always read, it’s still considered a courtesy to include one, particular by smaller companies who are more likely to manually review each application. Some online applications only allow you to upload one document, so in that case you can either merge your cover letter and resume into one file, or just submit the resume (avoid merging both into one file otherwise, as they serve different purposes and are weighted differently by ATS). If the ad just asks for a resume, you can probably get away with no cover letter.
Christy Morgan, Resident HR Expert
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. (For instance, Kickresume allows you to do that.)
In the end, both documents will give you a chance to deliver your “elevator pitch” and help you score a job interview.
Cover letter and resume examples
Let’s now take a look at how it should be done in practice. Below you can find a resume and cover letter example written by a real job seeker who scored a real job in a real company (it's all very real, true story).
These examples can teach you a bit about content and style of your resume and cover letter. You can even use them as your first drafts to help you get started.
Marketing and Brand Manager at American Eagle Outfitters (Resume Example)
This resume sample was contributed by a real person who got hired with Kickresume’s help.
Marketing and Brand Manager at American Eagle Outfitters (Cover Letter Example)
This cover letter sample was provided by a real person who got hired with Kickresume’s help.
Still need some more inspiration? Visit our resume examples and cover letter examples libraries.
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A journalist by trade, a writer by fate. Nikoleta went from writing for media outlets to exploring the world of content creation with Kickresume and helping people get closer to the job of their dreams. Her insights and career guides have been published by The Female Lead, College Recruiter, and ISIC, among others. Nikoleta holds a Master's degree in Journalism from the Comenius University in Bratislava. When she’s not writing or (enthusiastically) pestering people with questions, you can find her traveling or sipping on a cup of coffee.
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Cover Letter VS. Resume –What's The Difference?
What is a cover letter?
- Cover letters vs. resumes - what's the difference?
Now that you know
In today’s ultra-competitive job market, one major way to get employers’ attention is by building an exemplary resume and cover letter. You must learn how to craft each document without any disqualifying errors.
In this article, you will learn the difference between a cover letter and a resume. These include the differences between the two in:
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A cover letter (also known as a letter of motivation) is a document sent alongside your resume. It provides additional information that you did not or could not include in your resume and gives you the opportunity to show more of your credentials to employers.
Cover letters vs. resumes - what's the difference?
A cover letter is an additional document, first and foremost. Unlike a resume, it is often optional, though some applications require an attached cover letter. It is a letter in which you provide detailed descriptions of your skills and previous work experience and explain why they make you the perfect fit for the position.
A resume is a primary document you will send to potential employers. It is a one to two-page list of your previous work experience, skills, accomplishments, education, etc.
It is advisable to customize your resume and cover letter to fit the requirements of each specific job description: in short, no form letters.
Cover letters have a different format
Formatting a cover letter correctly is vital. It is not just a list but a letter to a potential employer, with greetings, an introductory paragraph, one to two body paragraphs, a conclusion, and a signature. It is typically only one page.
A resume’s format is narrower. Resumes are a concise record of your background and qualifications, containing only essential information. Its presentation and visual appeal are especially important. It is typically one to two pages.
the tone of voice is different
A cover letter is you directly addressing your future employer. Unlike in your resume, in which you are clinically listing off your background and qualifications, you can feel free to inject more of your personality into a cover letter.
This helps the employer get to know you as well as your skills before you ever meet face to face. Imagine you are speaking to them at your job interview already: be friendly and confident, but remain professional as well.
Cover letters complement your resume.
If you have constructed it correctly, a finished resume can technically be all you need to apply to a job. However, you want to show potential employers that you will go the extra mile for them and ensure that they know just how better suited you are to the position than your competition.
A cover letter expands on the most important information provided in your resume and strengthens it. If your resume already has a strong layout , it is a good outline for your cover letter.
The most important information to keep in mind is the purpose of each document. A resume is an essential document that concisely lists your background and qualifications. A cover letter is an additional document that complements your resume by providing detailed explanations of the most relevant parts of your resume.
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Resumes or CVs and cover letters
Your resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) and cover letter are how you introduce yourself when applying for a job. Learn what to include and the best way to structure these documents.
Make a great first impression with an employer
Your resume or CV and cover letter are short, professional documents that you use to introduce yourself and outline your experience when applying for jobs.
Most job advertisements ask for both a resume or CV and cover letter.
What to include to stand out
Resumes or cvs.
These include a summary of your education, work experience, achievements, and other relevant experience.
These include an introduction to yourself, and a summary of how your experience matches the job description.
Don't know where to start?
Use our Resume templates and cover letter examples .
Talk to a specialist
For free and personalised career support, talk to a Careers NSW careers practitioner or an industry expert.
Career prep series: resume and cover letters.
Tailoring your resume and cover letter to a job description is a must. Doing so will convey to an employer that you have the knowledge, skills, and experience for that specific job.
See the Career Development Toolkit modules on resumes and cover letters .
How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job
I ’ve read thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of cover letters in my career. If you’re thinking that sounds like really boring reading, you’re right. What I can tell you from enduring that experience is that most cover letters are terrible — and not only that, but squandered opportunities. When a cover letter is done well, it can significantly increase your chances of getting an interview, but the vast majority fail that test.
So let’s talk about how to do cover letters right.
First, understand the point of a cover letter.
The whole idea of a cover letter is that it can help the employer see you as more than just your résumé. Managers generally aren’t hiring based solely on your work history; your experience is crucial, yes, but they’re also looking for someone who will be easy to work with, shows good judgment, communicates well, possesses strong critical thinking skills and a drive to get things done, complements their current team, and all the other things you yourself probably want from your co-workers. It’s tough to learn much about those things from job history alone, and that’s where your cover letter comes in.
Because of that …
Whatever you do, don’t just summarize your résumé.
The No. 1 mistake people make with cover letters is that they simply use them to summarize their résumé. This makes no sense — hiring managers don’t need a summary of your résumé! It’s on the very next page! They’re about to see it as soon as they scroll down. And if you think about it, your entire application is only a few pages (in most cases, a one- or two-page résumé and a one-page cover letter) — why would you squander one of those pages by repeating the content of the others? And yet, probably 95 percent of the cover letters I see don’t add anything new beyond the résumé itself (and that’s a conservative estimate).
Instead, your cover letter should go beyond your work history to talk about things that make you especially well-suited for the job. For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job. That’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.
Or maybe your last boss told you that you were the most accurate data processor she’d ever seen, or came to rely on you as her go-to person whenever a lightning-fast rewrite was needed. Maybe your co-workers called you “the client whisperer” because of your skill in calming upset clients. Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior staff to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos. Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.
If you’re still stumped, pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be great at the job. You probably wouldn’t do that by stiffly reciting your work history, right? You’d talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. That’s what you want here.
You don’t need a creative opening line.
If you think you need to open the letter with something creative or catchy, I am here to tell you that you don’t. Just be simple and straightforward:
• “I’m writing to apply for your X position.”
• “I’d love to be considered for your X position.”
• “I’m interested in your X position because …”
• “I’m excited to apply for your X position.”
That’s it! Straightforward is fine — better, even, if the alternative is sounding like an aggressive salesperson.
Show, don’t tell.
A lot of cover letters assert that the person who wrote it would excel at the job or announce that the applicant is a skillful engineer or a great communicator or all sorts of other subjective superlatives. That’s wasted space — the hiring manager has no reason to believe it, and so many candidates claim those things about themselves that most managers ignore that sort of self-assessment entirely. So instead of simply declaring that you’re great at X (whatever X is), your letter should demonstrate that. And the way you do that is by describing accomplishments and experiences that illustrate it.
Here’s a concrete example taken from one extraordinarily effective cover-letter makeover that I saw. The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right? (This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.)
In her revised version, she wrote this instead:
“In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.”
That second version is so much more compelling and interesting — and makes me believe that she really is great with details.
If there’s anything unusual or confusing about your candidacy, address it in the letter.
Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager. For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but have reason to think you could excel at the job, address that up front. Or if your background is in a different field but you’re actively working to move into this one, say so, talk about why, and explain how your experience will translate. Or if you’re applying for a job across the country from where you live because you’re hoping to relocate to be closer to your family, let them know that.
If you don’t provide that kind of context, it’s too easy for a hiring manager to decide you’re the wrong fit or applying to everything you see or don’t understand the job description and put you in the “no” pile. A cover letter gives you a chance to say, “No, wait — here’s why this could be a good match.”
Keep the tone warm and conversational.
While there are some industries that prize formal-sounding cover letters — like law — in most fields, yours will stand out if it’s warm and conversational. Aim for the tone you’d use if you were writing to a co-worker whom you liked a lot but didn’t know especially well. It’s okay to show some personality or even use humor; as long as you don’t go overboard, your letter will be stronger for it.
Don’t use a form letter.
You don’t need to write every cover letter completely from scratch, but if you’re not customizing it to each job, you’re doing it wrong. Form letters tend to read like form letters, and they waste the chance to speak to the specifics of what this employer is looking for and what it will take to thrive in this particular job.
If you’re applying for a lot of similar jobs, of course you’ll end up reusing language from one letter to the next. But you shouldn’t have a single cover letter that you wrote once and then use every time you apply; whatever you send should sound like you wrote it with the nuances of this one job in mind.
A good litmus test is this: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter? If so, that’s a sign that you haven’t made it individualized enough to you and are probably leaning too heavily on reciting your work history.
No, you don’t need to hunt down the hiring manager’s name.
If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care. If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine. Take the hour you just freed up and do something more enjoyable with it.
Keep it under one page.
If your cover letters are longer than a page, you’re writing too much, and you risk annoying hiring managers who are likely sifting through hundreds of applications and don’t have time to read lengthy tomes. On the other hand, if you only write one paragraph, it’s unlikely that you’re making a compelling case for yourself as a candidate — not impossible, but unlikely. For most people, something close to a page is about right.
Don’t agonize over the small details.
What matters most about your cover letter is its content. You should of course ensure that it’s well-written and thoroughly proofread, but many job seekers agonize over elements of the letter that really don’t matter. I get tons of questions from job seekers about whether they should attach their cover letter or put it in the body of the email (answer: No one cares, but attaching it makes it easier to share and will preserve your formatting), or what to name the file (again, no one really cares as long as it’s reasonably professional, but when people are dealing with hundreds of files named “resume,” it’s courteous to name it with your full name).
Approaching your cover letter like this can make a huge difference in your job search. It can be the thing that moves your application from the “maybe” pile (or even the “no” pile) to the “yes” pile. Of course, writing cover letters like this will take more time than sending out the same templated letter summarizing your résumé — but 10 personalized, compelling cover letters are likely to get you more interview invitations than 50 generic ones will.
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Career Services supports all Liberty students as they take the next vocational step, whether it’s résumé and cover letter guidance, interview preparation, or developing a digital brand !
Kickstart your career exploration journey by taking our career assessment, Career Explorer . Career Explorer is an interest-based career assessment so it will take into account what you like to do and tailor the results accordingly. The assessment report will outline your top three career traits that correlate with different jobs. Career Explorer will then match those traits for you to specific jobs . You can dig into each job and learn more about the day-to-day work that job entails, the job outlook, pay, and required degrees to pursue that job. Career Explorer is a great place to get started as you refine your career journey!
Attaching your Career Exploration results to your Handshake profile will allow you to meet with you r industry-specific Career Coach on Career Exploration and Career Strategy . Here are instructions on how to add a file to your Handshake profile! Follow these instructions for attaching your results to your Handshake profile.
Tailoring your résumé and cover letter for every internship or job to which you apply is important. Our Résumé 101 , Résumé 201 , and Cover Letter workshops provide step-by-step guidance that will empower you to present your best self to potential employers. Career Services has developed industry-specific résumé samples you can follow to streamline your résumé creation process. You can also download an editable résumé guide to help you get started with a well-formatted résumé that will pass Applicant Tracking Systems.
Watch our workshops today to create standout application materials that catch the eye of potential employers!
Watching Résumé 101 will allow you to meet one-on-one with your Career Coach about your next steps for your résumé as you navigate your career journey!
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
Application Tracking Systems (ATS) is software many employers use to streamline the recruitment process. ATS automate the initial stages of resume screening, making it more efficient for employers to manage a large volume of job applications. ATS scan resumes for specific keywords and qualifications relevant to the job description.
Therefore, tailoring your resume to include relevant keywords and using a clean, well-formatted layout can enhance your ability to move through the application process. You can download an editable resume guide to help you get started with a well-formatted resume that will pass ATS. While you will need to accommodate the specific ATS requirements you also want to maintain true and accurate information on your resume.
TIP : JobScan is just one of many tools that exists to help job seekers evaluate how their resume measures up with ATS. JobScan and similar tools have free versions you can utilize so start with those!
Handshake is your gateway to a world of career opportunities and professional connections specifically for our Liberty community. Employers wanting to hire Liberty students and alumni post available jobs on Handshake so check out the job postings for full-time and part-time positions, as well as internships! Claim your account on Handshake with your LU email address to access this incredible resource.
Hundreds of employers come to Liberty’s campus in Lynchburg, VA to recruit each fall and spring. Check out our Career Fair schedule and Handshake to see the employers coming. This will help you assess whether dedicating time and resources to networking at a career fair best fits your goals. If you can’t make it to Lynchburg, don’t worry! We have a Virtual Career Fair each spring and fall facilitated for free through Handshake.
Embarking on an internship or job search can be both exciting and challenging. To navigate this journey successfully, check out our Internship/ Job Search Workshop and tips below.
Watching our Internship/ Job Search Workshop will allow you to meet one-on-one with your Career Coach to discuss your job search stra tegy!
- Where do you want to be in 5-10 years. Is it a specific title, company, location, or industry?
- Career Research: Find people on LinkedIn who are doing what you want to do in 5-10 years and see what roles they have filled or the experience they have gained that makes them competitive.
- Explore Handshake and other reputable job platforms, like LinkedIn , for diverse job opportunities.
- Investigate potential employers to understand their values, culture, and recent achievements to help you tailor each of your applications.
- Tailor your documents for each job application.
- Before and throughout the application process, leverage your professional network to gain insight into the industry, obtain tips for the application process, and connect with recruiters.
- Investigate potential employers to understand their values, culture, and recent achievements.
- Internship/job searching can take time, so stay persistent and maintain a positive mindset throughout the process. Even when rejections may come, use those opportunities to identify if there are ways to strengthen your resume or more effectively network.
- Take advantage of online courses from Liberty’s Continuing Education , EdX , Udemy , Coursera and others to gain training or certifications to enhance your skills and make your profile more appealing to employers.
By incorporating these tips into your job search strategy, you’ll increase your chances of finding the right opportunity that aligns with your career goals.
Congratulations! You got through the application process and now you are prepping for an interview to help secure the job. Check out our Interview Preparation Workshop and the tips below for valuable preparation information.
Watching our Interview Preparation Workshop will allow you to meet one-on-one with your Career Coach to discuss your upcoming interviews and then schedule a mock-interview !
- Re-Research the Company
- Even if you researched the company during your application process, familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, values, and recent achievements.
- Understand the industry trends, news, latest advancements, and the organization’s position in the market.
- You can reference or ask questions about this content during the interview to help the interviewers see that you understand their company.
- Know Your Resume
- Be ready to discuss your experiences, skills, and achievements mentioned in your resume.
- Connect your past experiences to the job for which you’re interviewing.
- Understand the Job Description
- Analyze the job requirements and tailor your responses to highlight relevant skills.
- Be prepared to discuss through examples and stories how your background aligns with the role.
- Practice Common Interview Questions
- Rehearse answers to common questions to build confidence.
- Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or CAR (Challenge, Action, Result) for behavioral questions.
- TIP: Whenever you can use a short and direct story, do! Stories resonate and stick with an individual.
- Dress Appropriately
- Choose professional attire that aligns with the company culture.
- Not sure what the culture is? Check out the staff page photos, social media, or any press pictures!
- Bring Necessary Documents
- Carry multiple copies of your resume in a folder.
- Bring a list of references and any other relevant documents.
- Prepare Questions
- Have thoughtful questions for the interviewer to show your genuine interest.
- Inquire about company culture, team dynamics, future projects, and when you can expect to hear back.
- Practice Good Body Language
- Maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and sit up straight.
- Smile, and be mindful of your tone and pace when speaking.
- Follow-Up After the Interview
- Send a thank-you email expressing your appreciation for the opportunity on the day you interviewed.
- Reiterate your interest in the position and briefly mention key points from the interview.
By incorporating these tips into your interview preparation, you’ll increase your chances of leaving a lasting impression on your potential employer.
Learn the art of building and maintaining a professional network to boost your chances of securing a job or internship. Networking is a powerful tool for career growth and professional success. C heck out some tips below.
- Set Clear Goals
- Define your networking goals, whether it’s seeking career advice, mentorship, or job opportunities.
- Set clear and attainable goals for who you will contact and when. Don’t forget to follow-up and stay engaged!
- Identify Your Current Network
- Often people don’t realize how big their network is! Outline who you already know in specific industries you want to pursue or doing the work you want to do.
- Don’t forget family! Often our best network are those related to us.
- One of the biggest mistakes people make is they wait till they are applying to jobs to network. Start today to build those relationships.
- Build an Online Presence
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile with a professional photo and a compelling headline.
- Watch our LinkedIn Workshop .
- Engage in industry-related discussions and share relevant content.
- Attend Networking Events
- Attend industry conferences, workshops, and networking events to meet professionals in your field.
- Prepare and practice a brief elevator pitch introducing yourself and your goals.
- Join Professional Organizations
- Become a member of relevant professional organizations to expand your network.
- Attend their events and actively participate in discussions.
- Offer to volunteer at industry conferences or events related to your field to meet people and make a positive impression.
- Local volunteer opportunities can also expand your network while also showing future employers you give back to the community.
- Follow Up
- After meeting someone, follow up with a personalized email expressing your gratitude for the connection.
- Stay in touch periodically with updates on your career and achievements.
- Be Genuine and Authentic
- Be yourself and approach networking with authenticity.
- Building genuine connections is more effective than trying to impress with a façade.
- Develop Strong Communication Skills
- Hone your communication skills, including active listening and the ability to articulate your thoughts clearly.
Remember, networking is an ongoing process, and cultivating relationships takes time. Consistency and authenticity are key elements in building a robust professional network.
Embarking on a career journey within a specific industry can be a nuanced process, and industry-specific career coaching provides invaluable guidance tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities within that field. Our industry-specific Career Coaches are equipped individuals with the knowledge, skills, and insights needed to help you thrive in your chosen sector. Our Career Coaches are dedicated to helping students navigate their God-given passions, skills, and experiences while empowering them with the tools and strategies necessary for success. Below are steps to take in order to meet with your Career Coach!
- Follow these instructions for attaching your results to your Handshake profile.
- Watch the Resume 101 Workshop prior to scheduling a meeting with your Career Coach about your resume.
- Watch the Cover Letter Workshop prior to scheduling a meeting with your Career Coach about your cover letter.
- Watch the part 1 of the Branding Training through LinkedIn prior to scheduling a meeting with your Career Coach about your digital brand.
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