What Comes First Cover Letter Or Resume

What is the Difference Between a Resume and a Cover Letter?

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 be 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, an 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 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 number of people you supervised, percent sales increased, number of customers helped, etc.

Here are 100+ resume examples to review. 

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 make 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 use the first-person to write your cover letter. (That said, avoid using "I" too much.)

Here are a 100+ free cover letter samples to review. 

What a Resume Includes

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 with 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. 

What a Cover Letter Includes

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. Here are cover letter writing tips to help you write a powerful, effective letter. 

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.

More About Resumes and Cover Letters: How to Write a Successful Cover Letter | How to Write a Perfect Resume

"You MUST have a Resume Cover Letter!" I'm sure you have heard this many times before.

Ever wonder what's so important about creating a Resume & Cover Letter??

The Resume is a selling tool that is used to do one thing and one thing only. Get you an INTERVIEW! The Resume outlines your skills and experiences allowing the employer to get an idea as to how you can contribute to the employer's workplace. Your Resume is one of the most important ways to market yourself.  Although you may have all of the requirements for a specific job, your resume will be a failure if the employer does not within 10-30 seconds decide "he/she has what it takes". 

Check out Resume Writingand Key Resume Action Verbs to get started on writing that perfect resume today! 



A Cover Letter allows a potential employer to be introduced to you and your resume. It is the first document an employer sees, therefore serving as your first impression and also allows the employer to get a more comprehensive look at who you are and why you are qualified for the job. This being your first impression you want to take advantage of the opportunity and prepare the reader for your application, state why you are you writing, why you are a good match for their organization/company, and when you intend to contact them.

Cover Letters do more that just introduce your resume, there are a number of things that a Cover Letter should include, your ability to:

A Cover Letter should explain your experiences in a story-like format that works with the information you've provided in your resume.

A Cover Letter should allow you to go in-depth about important experiences/skills and relate them to job experiences.

A Cover Letter should show the employer that you are tailoring the job application and making it your own.

A Cover Letter should display your written communication skills.


During job search process writing a Cover letter can be very challenging. You are challenged to create a document about yourself that is not selfish and self-centered. But DON'T WORRY,  we have all the tools necessary to aid you in this process. Follow these simple guidelines and you'll be on your way to creating an excellent Cover Letter.



  • Your Contact Information

  • Your name

  • Local Address

  • Phone Number

  • Email Address

  • Fax Number (if applies)


  • Include Date: month/day/year

  • Name of specific person

  • Title (if available)

  • Address of company

  • Leave space between heading (your contact info.) and name of specific person ("Dear Mr. Katzburg")

  • Use 1 inch margins all around the document

  • Single space your letter

  • Leave a space between each paragraph

  • Make sure letter is in the middle of the page

  • Leave three spaces between the closing ("sincerely") and your typed name

  • Include the individuals name

  • Make sure to let them know WHO you are and WHY you are writing them

  • Don't forget to include the position you are applying for

  • Briefly identify how your skills, values, and goals would fit well within the organization

  • Briefly state how you will contribute and help the organization

  • Be Positive

  • The body allows you to persuade those reading why you are the perfect candidate

  • Do NOT include irrelevant details about the past.

  • Remember your resume is a resource you are using to support your cover letter.

  • Include strong reasons why you should be hired

  • Do NOT explain the entire resume remember it's a source of data only

  • Display the most important and relevant skills that will help you get the job

  • Impression Tip: Use the companies verbiage (specific wording) used on the job advertisement, description, or company web site


  • Restates your main points and reasons why you are the right match

  • Restates your skills and experiences that will show your alignment with the organization

  • Make sure you have included your phone number and email

  • Let employers know when you plan on contacting them next

  • IMPORTANT: Thank the readers for taking your application into consideration

Before sending your Cover Letter

Need Samples?
Get a variety of Cover Letter Samples &
Resume Samples

For more help?
Contact career@andrews.edu  or success@andrews.edu


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