The two things needed to apply for a job in an organization are, a cover letter and a curriculum vitae popularly called a CV. As a job seeker, you must pay attention to what is contained in your cover letter and CV. It must be designed to suit the needs of the organization you want to apply to if you want to be considered.
As a job seeker, you need to know the difference between these two things. Some people think a CV is the same as a cover letter, but this assumption is not true. Also, some people believe that cover letter is not required as it’s just a duplication of content. Even this assumption is not true. There exist a lot of differences between a CV and a cover letter.
Now, let us define each of them one after the other before we go into the key differences that exist between them.
What Is A CV
A CV is a comprehensive document that contains the academic and professional details of an individual.
A CV usually contains information, like academic qualifications, skills, professional certificates, achievements, awards, and experience.
Some people usually include the date of birth, address, religion, and state of origin in their CV, but experts say such information is not needed in a modern CV.
Modern CVs are not as cumbersome as the old CVs used to be because experts have argued that you should only provide the information your employer wants to see.
An employer is not interested in the day you were born, hobbies or interests unrelated to the work, the religion you practice, and the state you are from. One of our other articles explains in the key points of a CV in further details.
What Is A Cover Letter
A cover letter is a letter of introduction that is attached to a CV.
A cover letter is not as detailed as a CV. A cover is just to serve as a way of introducing yourself to your prospective employer in best possible manner.
A cover letter also provides additional information about some of the things that could not be explained better in a CV.
Some of the information in a cover letter is personal information, date of application, some information about the organization you are sending your application to, relevant skills applicable to the role you are applying for, why do you think you should be employed, and why you think the organization is the best for your career progression.
Now moving to the next section of CV Vs Cover letter.
Key Differences Between A CV And A Cover Letter
From the definitions of CV and cover letter, you can see why employers place a lot of emphasis on it. They are the first things you will use to sell yourself to prospective employers.
No matter how competent you are, if your cover letter and your CV are not designed perfectly, you will not get the chance to meet your employer.
A CV and a cover letter have some major differences that distinguish them apart. If they are the same, employers would not ask for both from prospective employees. Here, we will look at four major differences between a CV and a cover letter.
1. Difference In Content
The major difference that exists between a CV and a cover letter is in their content.
While a CV has a lot of precise content about skills, work experience and education, the contents of a cover letter are not too many.
Here in nutshell is what a CV or a resume should contain
- Contact Information
- Key Objective
- Professional Experience (preferably in reverse chronological order)
- Academic details
- Achievements, awards and Honors
- Publications, Associations, memberships
- Certifications related to the job
On the other hand a Cover letter serves the simple purpose of proposing your candidature for the job.
A Cover letter should ideally contain.
- Details about you and salutation
- Short introductory paragraph displaying your interest and compatibility with the job on offer
- Middle paragraph summing up your key abilities (academic and professional) that make you the best fit for the job.
- Third Paragraph concluding the discussion, mentioning the attached CV and requesting for an interview.
The contents of a CV should involve specified information that you think the employer needs to see.
A CV cannot be complete without details like academic qualifications, skills, certifications, work experience, present and past organizations, achievements in the course of work, years of experience, and a whole lot of other specific information.
The content of a cover letter on the other hand is short and always straight to the point. A cover letter should carry the date you are applying for the job, your personal information, information of the organization, and the reasons why you think you are better than the other prospective employees.
2. Difference In Format
A CV usually has points that are listed in alphabetical order, roman numerals, or figures.
A CV usually contains bullets also.
A cover letter does not usually have list and bullet points. What a cover letter usually has is sentences that are arranged in paragraphs (normally 3 paragraphs). We have already written a lot about the format in our article on hospitality industry cover letter which is equally relevant for all other industries.
3. Difference In Length
The length of a CV is determined by many things.
Some of the things that determine the length of a CV are the number of qualifications, skills, and certifications a prospective employee has.
An average CV usually has one to three pages.
If the employee is a professional who has acquired a lot of skills, certification, and degrees, he or she can have up to a 5 to 6 page CV. This is true especially in jobs like that of research, medical practitioner, academicians etc.
A cover letter on the hand is usually a page irrespective of the employee’s status.
4. Difference in Purpose
The purpose they serve is one of the key differences between a CV and a cover letter.
A CV is used to apply for any type of job. It is the main piece of paper. CV has all the details of the candidate.
A Cover letter on the other hand is written to show the right intention of the candidate requesting for an interview. It is also called a cover letter as it cover the CV with basic information creating quick and further interest of the employer.
Cover letters are a polite way of requesting the employer to go through the CV. The purpose of the cover letter ends once the employer has gone through the CV. The CV however is needed during interview and even at the time of joining.
A Cover letter also has to be different for each job application while CV can more generic requiring only minor adjustments for each application.
We have made an effort here to define what a CV and a cover letter are, how important they are, and the major differences that exist between the two. We addressed the question of CV vs Cover letter while clarifying that using both appropriately is best for your next job application. They complement each other and a perfectly curated cover letter along with a crisp CV can do wonders to your job prospects.