A resume is a formal document that lists a job applicant’s work experience, education and skills. A resume is designed to provide a detailed summary of an applicant’s qualifications for a particular job – it is not usually meant to provide a complete picture. A good resume gives the potential employer enough information to believe the applicant is worth interviewing.
A cover letter is a written document submitted with a job application explaining the applicant’s credentials and interest in the open position. Since a cover letter is often one of only two documents sent to a potential employer, it is often extremely important in determining whether the applicant will obtain an interview for the position. A good cover letter complements a resume by expanding on resume items relevant to the job, and in essence, makes a sales pitch for why the applicant is the best person for the job. Career experts advise job seekers to spend time customizing each cover letter for the job being applied for, rather than using a generic letter. Although this requires extra effort, it can be very helpful in allowing an applicant to stand out above the competition.