The Difference Between Cover Letters and Resumes

With 2015 upon us, you may start looking for a new job. Whether you’re actively or casually looking, you need to have a solid resume and cover letter. While many job seekers don’t see the importance of cover letters, others don’t understand the difference between the two. Occasionally, you may notice that, when apply for a job, a cover letter is not required, but you should still provide one.

It can be confusing knowing what you are supposed to put on a cover letter versus what goes on your resume. However, it is important to know the difference. Here is some basic information on cover letters and resumes to help you get started:

Cover Letters

When it comes to your cover letter, it’s best to think of it as an introduction to who you are personally and professionally. This is the place where you can make a connection with the person reviewing your resume and explain why you would be such a great fit. Here are some things to include:

A Connection

Making a connection will allow a resume reviewer to get a better sense of who you are. Whether it’s mentioning a person of reference, something specific about the company you are applying to, or even the position you are apply for, a connection can go a long way. By making a connection through your cover letter, you will also show that you’ve research the company or position, which shows how much you are interested in the job.

A Pitch

Your cover letter is a great place to make a pitch of why you would make a great employee. Why are your skills so great for the position? How will you make the company better? What can you provide that other job candidates cannot? This is your opportunity to sell yourself to whomever may be reviewing your resume.

A Thank You

Before finishing your letter, you can make a great impression by thanking the person who is reviewing your resume and cover letter. Thank them for the time spent reviewing/reading and thank them for their consideration, even if you haven’t personally talked to them.


Resumes often get over-complicated with an overload of information. It is easy to confuse a resume reader with the information you put on your resume, which is why it is so important to know what information needs to be on your resume:

Your Contact Information

This one is pretty simple and should be fairly obvious. Place your contact information at the top of your resume. Include your name, phone number, email address, and physical address so that hiring managers have multiple ways to contact you.

Your Education

Always include your education. Don’t list every school you have ever been to though. Instead, list the most recent completed degree. For example, if you have a college degree, then you should list only that degree and not your high school. If high school is your highest education level, then list where you went, the year you graduated, and any special diplomas you have received.

Your Work History

This should be the bulk of your resume. By listing your work history, potential employers will see where you have worked, the positions you’ve held, and the skills you have developed. Do not just list the jobs you have held- describe the skills needed to complete your work and the tasks you did. Also, if you completed any specialized projects at a particular job, then list those too.

Do you have any questions about the difference between cover letters and resumes? Leave your questions in the comments section below and we will be sure to answer them!

Creating a Scannable Resume

Depending on the job you are applying for, a hiring manager or an HR representative may have dozens to hundreds of resumes and cover letters to read. One way to really make your resume stand out is to make it scannable. By ensuring your resume is easy to scan, the computer software being used will pick up on key elements much easier.

Because computer programs read resumes a little differently than a person does, it is important to write and format your resume in a way that a computer program will pick yours out of a stack of dozens. While these tips can’t ensure that will happen, it will certainly increase your chances. Here’s how to create a scannable resume:

Choosing a Font

When you choose a font for your resume, you need to keep in mind that while a computer  can read script-type fonts, it is certainly not as clear. It’s best to stick to fonts like Times New Roman or Helvetica because they are much easier to read. Furthermore, don’t choose a font that squeezes the letters close together. The more legible your words are, the easier your resume will be to scan.

Use Headlines

A great way to break up the content on your resume is by adding headlines. You can easily do this by taking advantage larger font sizes. Try to keep your font type consistent throughout the resume. Try out using larger-sized fonts to break the resume up into different sections like skills, work history, and awards.

Keep it Horizontal

While you might be tempted to have vertical lines to break up your content, you should avoid doing this because some programs will read these lines as if they were letters. Keep all of your sections and any minor design elements you add horizontal.

Single Column

In attempts to make your resume stand out and appear to have design to it, you might be tempted to use a double column style. However, this can cause computer programs to scan your resume improperly. Keep it simple with a single column style. This will also be easier for anyone in HR to read and scan.

Use Key Words

Because a computer program will be scanning your resume, it’s crucial to use key words. How do you know which words it will be looking for? Review the job posting and identify the most important words used. Think about the skills necessary for the job and make sure you mention them a few times throughout your resume.

Do you have any advice for creating a scannable resume? We’d love to hear about your tips so leave a comment below!

Writing Your Cover Letter

Filling out a job application isn’t as simple as just checking a few boxes on a form. In today’s job market, you need to set yourself above the competition. Stand out from other job applicants. One of the best ways to do that is by crafting an amazing cover letter. You can’t use the same generic cover letter for every application you submit. Rather, you need to be creating content that is specific to every job you are applying to.

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Resume Best Practices: Writing Your Objective for Resumes

When you begin applying for jobs, there is one crucial thing you need to be thinking about: your objective statement. In order to set yourself apart from other applicants, your objective needs to be detailed, tailored to your career goals, and tailored to the job you are applying for. If your overall career goals don’t align with the company or position you are applying for, then you need to rethink applying. Crafting the perfect objective for resumes can be difficult, but with a few questions in mind, you have a great statement sure to capture and engage your future employer.

Writing an objective for your resume is actually more important than just putting a sentence at the top of your resume. It’s a process that needs time and consideration. Ultimately, this statement needs to reflect who you are and what your career goals are. Here are a few questions to help you get started:

What type of work environment do you thrive in?

While it may not be the most important question, you still need to know what type of work environment and culture you want to work in and be a part of. When you know these things, you can seek out companies that offer these settings. Accepting a position at a job in which you don’t fit with the environment can lead to unhappiness and eventually leaving the job. Be upfront with potential employers about the type of environment you work best in.

What skills do you hope to cultivate and develop?

Your job isn’t just about getting work done. It’s about advancing your role and your career. By telling a potential employer about the skills you want to develop and the skills you want to utilize, they get a better understanding of who you are as an employee. As an employee, you should always be looking for ways to be better at your job, gain valuable skills that transfer from company to company and increase your knowledge in special areas.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Looking to the future can be intimidating sometimes, but having some sort of career plan can help land you your dream job. By having a career plan, you set goals for yourself. Potential employers want to see that you’re motivated and dedicated when it comes to your professional life because that more than likely means you are motivated and dedicated to doing a fantastic job.

What type of work are you seeking out?
Your objective statement needs to have one overall theme: what type of work do you do better than anyone else? By answering that question you are establishing your personal differentiator. You’re telling potential employers what you do and why you do it so well. Maybe it’s your analytical mind or your own creative process. Whatever it is, be sure you explain what type of work you do well and the type of work you want to be doing.

Do you have any recommendations for writing objectives for resumes? Leave your tips and suggestions in the comments section below!

Resume Best Practices: Things to Avoid on Your Resume Template

Writing your resume can be tricky. From things to avoid to things you have to include, there are several things to keep in mind. The ultimate goal of your resume is to convey to an employer you’re the best candidate. You want that phone call for an interview. You want that dream job. But you won’t get your foot in the door without a solid resume template.

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10 Common Resume Mistakes

Writing the perfect resume is nearly impossible, but if you spend the time and put in the effort, you can craft a great resume. The real trick is avoiding common resume mistakes that will cause someone to just dismiss you as a serious candidate. When a recruiter or hiring manager sees a resume with mistakes all over it, they will more than likely throw it away and move on to the next candidate. Simply applying for a job and sending in a resume isn’t enough to get you the job.

Even the best laid out resume with all the bells and whistles can be pushed aside if there are simple mistakes on it. Before you start sending your resume out, you should look it over and make sure you aren’t a victim of these 10 common resume mistakes:

1. Typos and Poor Grammar

One of the biggest mistakes your resume can have is typos or poor grammar. When the person reviewing a resume sees these mistakes, your resume is dismissed right away. In order to avoid these mistakes, you need to use a spellcheck tool, read, reread, and reread your resume. You also need to consider having someone review your resume for these simple mistakes that are often over looked.

2. Duties Rather Than Accomplishments

It’s easy to simply list the duties of your current job and any past jobs you’ve had. However, not only is this lazy, it doesn’t really tell a future employer anything. Instead, you need to list accomplishments, projects, and tasks that you undertook in those positions. By doing this, you show what you have done, what you are capable of, and the results of those actions.

3. Lack of Dates

You may think that dates just aren’t that important, but if someone reviewing your resume sees a lack of dates or an inaccurate account of dates, then a red flag will go off. Don’t try to hide career gaps. If there are gaps in your resume, then you need explain them in your cover letter. Remember, career gaps can be a positive thing on your resume and in your career.

4. Missing Contact Information

As you are reviewing your resume, double check your phone number, address, and email address. It might seem like a stupid mistake, but if you do happen to put in the wrong number or street name, then how is someone supposed to contact you? Be sure this information is accurate at all times.

5. Bad Formatting

You might think formatting isn’t an important part of your resume, but if you submit a resume that lacks flow in the format, then the person reading it might just end up tossing it aside. While adding boxes and using certain types of fonts can make your resume look great on screen, you need to keep in mind that you will be sending your resume in an email (more than likely) and someone will probably be printing it out. Keep it as simple as possible because in most cases, an employer just wants the information and nothing else.

6. Non-Functional

In attempts to hide resume gaps and make your resume stylish, you may end up turning out a non-functional resume. Instead, you should be creating a resume that is chronological and focuses on your accomplishments rather than anything else.

7. Long Form Resumes

For some, when creating a resume, they want to cram everything they have ever done or accomplished onto the sheet. However, when your resume spreads beyond one or two pages, you lose the interest of those reading it. If you are already working with a long resume, consider trimming it down. You have limited time to get to the point, so get there early.

8. Paragraphs

Your resume should tell a story, but it should tell it in short sentences, highlights, and bullet points. Paragraphs should be used on cover letters and career objectives, but your job summaries and skills sections should utilize short sentences and bullet points. By setting your resume up this way, you can get your main points across and answer initial questions. You will also have a better chance at intriguing someone and get that much anticipated call for an interview.

9. No Real Qualifications

It’s tempting to go after our dream jobs and we should always be working towards them, but you can’t apply for them unless you are ready. Your resume needs to reflect the proper qualifications when applying for a job, so make sure you have real qualifications that match the job you are applying for.

10. Unrelated Personal Information

You may want to include personal information to your resume to help someone learn more about you, but no matter how fascinating it is, unless it pertains to the job, you should leave it off. Some are tempted to include hobbies, interests, and age on their resume, but it’s just not needed and often not welcomed.

As you review your resume, make sure the information is accurate, readable, and relevant to the job to which you are applying. Avoid common resume mistakes by double and triple checking what you’ve included and having someone else review it.

What resume questions do you have? Leave your questions and suggestions in the comments section below!
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