How to Balance Your Resume and Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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Your resume and cover letter serve very different purposes. Your resume is limited to providing basic information about your skills and previous employment history, but a cover letter allows you to infuse personality into your application and describe your experience to a greater extent. Balance your resume and cover letter to improve your application and make each document purposeful.

To balance your resume and cover letter, make your resume all about the numbers and use your cover letter to describe your achievements. Numbers attract the attention of employers and reflect your abilities better than generic statements. However, quantifying your experience does not tell the whole story. Balance your application by including brief statements in your cover letter that describe key assignments that show you are qualified for the position. Clearly provided examples also back up the claims you make and balance your resume and cover letter.

It is extremely important to use keywords from a job posting to customize your resume to each position. Although this helps your resume pass through applicant screening programs, this does not allow you to be creative. Balance your application by making your cover letter stand out, since most employers do not scan cover letters for keywords. Use action verbs and descriptive statements to turn your cover letter into a compelling story rather than a boring account of your work history. This technique strikes a great balance between efficiency and creativity.

According to Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of TheLadders, employers spend an average of six seconds scanning a resume. Consequently, your resume needs to be extremely easy to read and the most important information must stand out. Use bullet points, graphs or charts in your resume to convey a lot of information about your qualifications without using a block of text that a busy hiring professional is likely to overlook. Balance your resume by including several paragraphs in your cover letter. Additionally, if the application system allows it, you can make your cover letter more appealing, and even more effective, by adding hyperlinks to your previous work.

Another way to balance your resume and cover letter is to omit an objective statement from your resume. It is far more effective to state where you are now and where you want to go in your cover letter. Connect your objective to your qualifications. Mentioning an objective in both the cover letter and resume makes your information redundant.

In today's competitive job market, it is essential to balance your resume and cover letter. Focus on maximizing each document to get the attention of employers and avoid redundancy. Fill your resume with easy-to-read data and use a little creativity to provide more insight in your cover letter. By striking a better balance, you greatly improve your chances of getting an interview.


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