If there is one question I get asked often, it is what is the difference between a Curriculum Vitae and a Cover Letter, and all too often one is neglected in favour of the other. It is important that you treat both with the same level of attention if you are going to make an impact.
When drafting the two, remember these two rules:
- The CV is a summary of your career, qualifications, and skills.
- The Cover Letter is your introduction to the Employer and should outline why they should choose you.
The Curriculum Vitae
The Curriculum Vitae (meaning “course of life” in Latin) will include key information about your career history.
Your headings under your CV are crucial. They don’t only make it easier for the Employer to navigate but as important for ATS software. These can include:
- where you worked
- what your role was
- how long you were there
- your qualifications
A personal profile or summary are added to demonstrate why you excelled in these roles. Don’t write an objective on your CV. This can be included in your Cover Letter and address why you want to work for the Employer.
The Cover Letter
The Cover Letter is a brief introduction to the Employer of who you are, why you feel you are the ideal candidate for the position, and what makes you stand out from the crowd. It is important that you keep this concise and to the point. In some cases, if your Cover Letter fails to impress, the employer won’t even bother looking at your CV.
Number one rule… One page is enough.
Try to not to repeat what you have written in your CV – with the exception of one or two accomplishments that directly respond to the job. You can always pop a couple in your Cover Letter as bullet points and make them stand out, but don’t make the mistake of copying them all.
I always believe that the font and format of your CV and Cover Letter should work in harmony. If you have a border around your CV, have a border on your Cover Letter. Consistency is key.
Both documents are equally as important in the world of recruitment, especially while competition remains high. Remember that these documents are a tempter. They are there to entice the Employer to get you in for an interview – not tell your life story.
What have you found to be successful in writing your Cover Letters? What advice would you offer?