Why are resumes and cover letters important?

man reading resumeA lot of new graduates wonder why resumes and cover letters are important. There are several reasons it’s essential to curate both items when you’re job hunting.

Let’s take a look at why resumes and cover letters are important when you’re trying to get hired. 

Why is a resume important?

A resume is your chance to make a great first impression with a hiring manager. It is an easy-to-digest digest way to display your accomplishments, skills, and employment history. 

When an employer can see that you have the skills and qualifications they’re looking for; it’s your first step towards getting the role. Most first interviews are determined based on the resume combined with an excellent cover letter.

But don’t be fooled. Most employers will open the resume before reading the cover letter. Here’s why.

What does a resume tell employers?

Generally, you apply for a role that fits your background and experience. So, when an employer views your resume, they want to understand why you’re qualified for the position. 

What have you done in the past that’s prepared you for the role? What unique skill set do you have that will help you succeed? And how have you had success in similar roles in the past?

That’s why they want to see your previous experience, achievements, education, and strengths laid out in one document. 

It’s the first time you’ll be in front of the hiring manager before speaking to them over the phone or in person. So, a resume lets them know what you’re all about.

What can I do to make a good first impression?

To make a good impression on a hiring manager via your resume, there are a few things you want to focus on: 

  • Catching their attention by highlighting relevant experience
  • Ensuring your descriptions call out critical skills and responsibilities that match the job description
  • Highlighting your skills and past achievements
  • Showcasing what you’ll bring to the company in terms of quantifiable value
  • Writing a compelling cover letter.

This brings us to why a cover letter is important.

Why is a cover letter important?

While some might find a cover letter to be an antiquated form of introduction, it’s more than that. A cover letter is your chance to take your resume and specifically call out how your skills and experience fit the job.

Just as your resume is the first impression, your cover letter is the chance to expand on the impression by presenting both your personality and strengths.

How does writing a cover letter help?

For a hiring manager, reading a resume is like reading the back flap of a novel. It provides an overview of who you are but doesn’t dive into the gritty details. 

A cover letter lets them know who you are, why you’re the right fit, and what interests you most about the role and the company. This is your chance to show employers what you know about the company and how your experience fits the job description.

While cover letters should remain short and sweet (less than one page is ideal), you want to focus on making each one specific to the job and give them a hint of your personality.
Cover letters and resumes can open the door to your dream job. But you have to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Read more about how to craft a great resume and cover letter in our Career Advice section.