If you’re planning on applying for a new job, you’ll need to start thinking about your resume and cover letter before you begin. While both documents are important to a job search, many people struggle when it comes to understanding the differences between the two. So, how do you determine what content should go on your resume vs cover letter?
Step one involves understanding that these documents should be complementary, not repetitive of each other. Your resume, which paints a quick picture of your work experience, should objectively highlight your skills and qualifications. By being more tailored to the specific role, however, your cover letter can take this a step further. It should not only describe how your skills and experiences make you uniquely qualified for the position, but can also help you convey your interest in the position and better express your personality.
When you look at it this way, the differences between these two documents are simple. Now that you have a better understanding of this, here are the different factors to consider when deciding what you’d like to include on your resume vs cover letter:
Keeping in line with your resume being more objective, it’s the proper space for you to list your technical skills. This includes any familiarity you have with widely used programs like Microsoft Office and industry-specific programs that you would need to succeed in the role. However, be aware that an increasing amount of companies are using applicant tracking systems to search and identify qualified candidates. To get noticed by an ATS, tailoring your technical skills with what’s in the job listing can make a difference!
While you should use your resume to communicate your qualifications, your cover letter is where you should sell those qualifications. One way to do this is by writing about how your past experiences and overall career growth will help you succeed in the role you’re currently applying to. To do this, consult the job posting and see how your past experiences align with the role. By making a connection between the two in your cover letter, you may entice a hiring manager to reach out for an interview!
Due to the current skills shortage, many employers need to think outside of the box when it comes to top talent. One way employers do this is by identifying candidates who have the soft skills necessary to succeed in the role and thrive within the company. As a result, you should use your cover letter to convey your more intangible skills, such as communication and problem-solving, to show that you’re uniquely qualified for the position.
Your contact information is one of the most important a hiring manager needs when reviewing your application. In order to ensure that a hiring manager can’t miss this information, you may feel the need to include it in both. However, your contact information should only go on your resume and preferably at the top. As for your cover letter, it’s best to focus on trying to build a more personal connection with the employer. If they need to contact you, they’ll figure out how!
For many professionals, highlighting results from a project is key to proving your qualifications for the role. While you can list the success of a project on your resume, you can talk about your overarching achievements from these types of projects on your cover letter as well. You can accomplish this by first listing these results in bullet format on your resume. Then, you can use your cover letter to expand on these accomplishments and how they helped the company in the long run.
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