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Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter! 

A resume and a cover letter are the two most important components of a job application. These records assist a prospective recruiter in reducing the pool of candidates based on each one’s qualifications and abilities. However, these documents are different from each other in terms of their objective, format and contents. It is a pre-requisite for any individual seeking to step into the job market to know how to distinguish between the two. This article shall guide you in differentiating between a cover letter and a resume in a simple yet effective manner! 

What is a cover letter? 

A cover letter or motivation letter is a document submitted during the recruitment process which provides a brief description of the applicant’s personal and professional information to the recruiter. It allows the applicant to appeal why he is fit for the role. It usually ranges from 200 to 450 words.  

A cover letter usually includes a personal statement written in paragraphs. It can consist of what piqued your interest to apply for the job, why you are fit for it, what skills descriptively support your suitability, etc.  

what is a resume?

A resume is a succinct summary of an individual’s talents, credentials, and capabilities for a particular position. It usually is 1 to 2 pages long and is accompanied by a cover letter. A fun fact about the history of resumes is that their origin was traced back to Leonardo Da Vinci in 1482!  It is rumoured that he posted a letter to Milan mentioning his skills and suitability for the job.  

A resume generally includes factual information. Data related to previous work experience, positions held, awards and recognition, education information, hard and soft skills etc. are to be included in a resume.  

Common purpose

Before discussing the differences, we must first know that these documents also share an important common purpose. The goal of both a cover letter and a resume is to demonstrate that you have the necessary abilities to succeed in the position you seek. 

What are the difference between resumes and cover letters?

Resumes and cover letters differ in several aspects, such as length, objective, content, etc. Some of them are briefly explained below: 


The contents of a cover letter are written to present your willingness to join the organisation and your suitability for the same elaborately. The content written is subjective in nature, with a personal description of the value that the applicant has contributed through his previous organisations. It usually mentions specific skills and not all of them.  An employer can mention the motivation behind applying for a particular job, his qualifications, and how he plans to contribute if given an opportunity. Thus, a cover letter is of a descriptive nature.  

On the other hand, a resume is a neutral document that aims to showcase your merit, skills and experience. It included factual information that was presented objectively. It is an overview of the applicant’s educational background and professional experience. The applicant mentions all of his hard and soft skills and professional knowledge, along with the roles held and a list of his educational qualifications. It basically backs your statement provided in the cover letter.  


Since a cover letter provides the applicant with a chance to explain his interests, the cover letter is written in the form of 2-3 short paragraphs. A cover letter includes an opening paragraph, a middle graph, and a closing paragraph. It also contains essential elements of a letter, such as salutation and contact information of the recruiter and applicant.  

Meanwhile, a resume is a structured list. In a resume, information is presented in an organised manner with the help of bullet points, necessary headings and sub-headings. It also includes sectional heads.  


The objective of a cover letter is to help the applicant explain his interest in the job and his suitability for it. 

The objective of a resume is to provide details such as educational background, work experience and skills to substantiate the applicant’s qualifications for the job.  


A cover letter is an optional document. It is usually when specifically asked for.  

A resume is a crucial document in the recruitment process. A candidate must always carry a copy of his resume with him. It is required by most organisations and is considered a legitimate record of your qualifications.  


A cover letter is usually of 2-3 paragraphs ranging from 200- 450 words.  

A resume is usually 1-2 pages long.  


A cover letter uses a descriptive tone which is professional and enthusiastic. It is used to market yourself and provide positive reasons for the recruiter to proceed with your application process. This sets a conversational tone for the information provided. The use of “I”  is expected in a cover letter.  

A resume, on the other hand, use a professional tone. They are more formal in nature than cover letters. There is no scope for presenting a story. You can only include impersonal lists that mention all your experience and skills.  

These were the differences between a Resume and a Cover Letter; we hope it helped you clear your confusion.