Cover Letter VS. Resume – Are They The Same?

Cover Letter vs. Resume

No. Although the cover letter and resume have the same purpose of showing that you have the right skills and qualifications for a job they do have distinct differences. First, the structure of the resume and cover letter differs, as the two documents look different from each other. Second, the intent of the two documents are different as well. Finally, the tone of the two documents is different too.

It is important that the cover letter and resume complement each other, but they should have different information. A hiring manager will notice if your resume is just bullet points that are copied from the cover letter. Some jobs do not require a cover letter, but this could be a costly mistake. Submitting a cover letter with your resume gives you another chance to prove yourself to potential employers.


The structure or format of the resume is the most obvious difference between the cover letter and resume. A resume should be easy to navigate, the hiring manager should be able to scan the document quickly for all the important information. To set your resume apart from the competition, it should have a bold header on all pages that includes your name and contact information.

The resume is divided into sections with bold headings to highlight educational, work and volunteer experiences. In most cases, bullet points and statistics are used to emphasize different skills and job duties that relate to the position you are applying for.


On the other hand, the cover letter is formatted using a business letter style, including both the applicant’s and employer’s contact information, greeting, introduction, body, and concluding paragraph. The cover letter is usually a few paragraphs, no more than a page in length, focusing on how you will be an asset to the company. The cover letter is formal and uses persuasive arguments to help you land an interview. In some cases, depending on the position, the cover letter could have more impact than your resume. Especially, if the job that you have applied for involves day-to-day communication.


The intent of a resume is to communicate facts to the hiring manager, while cover letters can express more subjective information. For example, when writing a resume, it can be difficult to communicate all the job duties and achievements using bullet points. In fact, it can be hard to elaborate on your accomplishments and skills when your limited to a resume that is one or two pages. That is why a cover letter is so important, you can go into detail regarding your education and work history, explain why you’re applying for this job, and how your experience makes you an ideal candidate. However, you should keep your cover letter as short as possible and make sure all the important information is in the beginning of your letter.


Another big difference between a cover letter and resume is the tone, or how personalized or professional it appears. Both cover letters and resumes should be professional, however, cover letters can be tailored to the position you’re applying for and include the hiring manager's name and contact information. The salutation of the cover letter should be addressed to a specific individual by name, rather than “Dear Hiring Manager.” If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, look on the company’s web page, search on LinkedIn, or call the office directly and ask.

Both the resume and cover letter are important documents when it comes to the job hunt. Either can make a positive or negative impression with the hiring manager depending on the format, tone, writing style, and information communicated. However, it is important to not copy and paste any information from your resume in the cover letter, always reword if you want to elaborate. Remember to check both documents for spelling and grammar errors and to use a positive tone. Most importantly be honest about your education, work and other relevant experiences.


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