Cover Letter vs. Resume: What Are The Main Differences

September 07, 2023

cover letter vs resume
cover letter vs resume

Before your job search,

Two documents often take center stage: the cover letter and the resume.

These dynamic duos of the professional world play distinct but equally crucial roles in landing your dream job. But what sets them apart? 

Learn the main differences between the cover letter and resume and craft an application that leaves a lasting impression.

What is a Cover Letter?

Ah, the elusive cover letter! 

You’ve heard about it, but you might need a clearer idea of what it is.

A cover letter introduces potential employers, highlighting your qualifications, skills, and enthusiasm for the position. 

A well-crafted cover letter can make a significant difference in getting noticed and securing that coveted interview especially in Singapore.

Cover Letter Sample

Here’s a full Product Manager Cover Letter sample, which we wrote for a client recently.

Email:   |   Mobile: +65 12 9876 2345
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

Application for the Position of Product Manager

It is with great enthusiasm that I submit my application for the position of Product Manager at XYZ Co. Through my 5 year career, I’ve come to specialise in leading the end-to-end product development lifecycle for a wide range of financial and technology products for multiple industries. My deep know-how in the full product development process comes from extensive experience leading cross-functional teams in business case development, client collaboration and outlining product implementation roadmaps. By leveraging my expertise, I’ve closed 10 machine learning projects within 9 months for clients including 123 Co., 67 Group and MON Co.

  • Presently, I am a Senior Associate Director/ Head of Products with ABC Tech, where I oversee a team of 25 product managers and engineers to conduct market research, identify prospective clients, build winning business cases and collaborate with clients to develop and launch profitable products. I also steer the development and implementation of our short and long term corporate business strategy and spearhead the setting up of companies to bring products to market. Among my achievements, I am most proud of launching 2 widely accepted machine learning products with another 4 products currently in the production pipeline.

With my engineering background and practical experience in developing product solutions, business development and client management, I’m positive that I’ll be able to contribute effectively to XYZ Co’s continued growth and performance, particularly in leading teams to identify potential market entry points and developing products that exceed client expectations.

I am thrilled at the possibility of being part of such a renowned firm, and would love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the value that I can bring to XYZ Co. I appreciate your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me at any time via mobile at +65 12 9876 2345 or by email at

Yours sincerely,
John Doe


Check out more cover letter samples.

What A Cover Letter Includes

When writing a cover letter, it’s essential to include specific elements to make it effective and engaging.

Here are 6 essential components that a cover letter should have:

1. Application Title: Given that all cover letters these days are transmitted digitally, there’s no need to include things like address, date etc. 

Instead, add a clear title, like:

“Application for role of Regional Sales Director at Raffles Software”

2. Salutation: Begin your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager. It’s the virtual handshake of your cover letter. If you don’t have a name, use a generic greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager.” 

3. Introduction: Start strong with a captivating sentence. Mention the specific job you are applying for and explain how you learned about the position. Briefly express your enthusiasm for the role and the company.

4. Body Paragraphs: Highlight your relevant skills, experience, and accomplishments. Focus on what you can bring to the organization. Show, don’t just tell, how you can contribute to the company’s success.

5. Closing Paragraph: Finish strong by reiterating your enthusiasm for the position and expressing your desire for an interview. Be confident but not pushy. 

6. Signature: Sign off with a courteous farewell and follow it up with your name. (Sincerely, Best Regards, etc.) Leave space for your handwritten signature if you are submitting a hard copy.

What is a Resume?

Resumes and CVs are essentially the same thing: a document you write about your skills and experience that you send out when looking for a job in a company.

how to write a resume

Along with your schooling and credentials, your resume must also include a thorough summary of your previous employers and the tasks you performed for them. 

Crafting an effective resume is a crucial step in the job application process, as it provides a snapshot of your professional history and capabilities.

Resume Sample

Here’s a full Finance Manager resume sample, which we wrote for a client recently. It contains all of the professional experience that the candidate has, as well as all of the key information relevant to the role.



Senior Finance Manager | Financial Accounting Expert | Compliance Specialist
Email:   |   Mobile:+65 12 XXXX XXXX   |   Nationality: Singaporean   |
  • Senior Finance Manager with 12 years of experience leading financial operations at renowned global INCs, including Facebook & Twitter. Led end-to-end compliance for Twitter’s IPO in 2013 (NASDAQ: TWTR).
  • Wide-reaching domain experience across multiple Finance-related fields, specializing particularly in FP&A and risk modelling. Known for producing detailed financial planning & risk models as part of advisory duties to C-level management, providing insights into business health to support strategic and growth planning operations.
  • Extensive theoretical and practical knowledge of major global accounting and regulatory standards, including IAS, US GAAP, SEC, and IFRS, as well as compliance and reporting procedures for NASDAQ entities.
Financial Planning   |   Financial Budgeting   |   Internal Controls   |   Forecasting   |   Accounts Management   |   Accounts Payable   |   Accounts Receivable   |   Financial Reporting   |   Change Management   |   Financial Modelling  
Jan 2016 – Present
  • Lead team of 16 staff to oversee full spectrum of finance functions with APAC revenues in excess of 1 billion USD, collaborating directly with Group CFO on full spectrum of financial matters relating to business strategy, performance management, budgeting, forecasting, cash management and sales analysis.
  • Coordinate with internal teams such as Sales & Accounts, HR. Facilities and Legal to accurately model past and future financial performance.
  • Drive process improvements in automation of financial reporting through close collaboration with up-stream process owners.
  • Build and present detailed financial models to drive investment decisions for senior management.
Significant Achievements
  • Played key role in improving accounting process during monthly dosing; streamlined process enabled quicker processing of accounts and improved productivity resulting in reduction in monthly closing from 3 days to 1 day.
  • Presided over due diligence on key acquisition target; audited financial statements and performed deep analysis into customer base, geographies, acquisition, and retention rates. CFO utilized findings as part of M&A business plan for board of directors and shareholders, resulting in successful M&A deal valued at >USD20M.
  • Single-handedly identified fundamental accounting structural flaw resulting in cost avoidance of USD 10M; led change in Excel toolkits and Hyperion mapping resulting in stronger controls and improved accounting practices.
Feb 2014 – Oct 2015

Check out more resume samples.

What A Resume Includes

When writing a resume, you should include these specific elements:

  1. Contact Information: Your resume should begin with your name, phone number, email address and LinkedIn URL. Including your address or current city is optional. 
  1. Objective or Summary Statement: A brief overview of your career goals and what you can bring. Think of this as the movie trailer for your career. Summarize your professional life in a few lines.
  1. Education: This section includes details about your academic background, such as the names of institutions attended, degrees earned, majors or fields of study, graduation dates, and academic achievements.
  1. Work Experience: List your previous job positions in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Make sure to Include:
  • The names of employers
  • Job titles
  • Dates of employment
  • Concise description of your responsibilities
  • Accomplishments in each role
  1. Skills: Highlight technical and soft skills relevant to the job you’re applying for. These could range from programming languages and software proficiency to communication and leadership skills.
  1. Achievements and Awards: If you’ve received any honors, awards, or recognitions in your academic or professional life, this is the place to showcase them. Include details such as the award’s name, the organisation or institution presenting it, and the date.
  1. Certifications and Training: Mention any relevant certificates, licenses, or specialised training that demonstrate your qualifications for the job.
  1. Languages: If you are proficient in languages other than your native tongue, especially if it’s relevant to the job, list them here, along with your level of proficiency.
  1. References: While it is only sometimes necessary to include on the resume, you can indicate that references are available upon request.

Cover Letter vs Resume Differences

Navigating the job hunt can feel like exploring uncharted territory. And two essential tools in this adventure are your resume and cover letter. 

We’ll walk you through the distinct purposes, formats, and when to use each so you can confidently set sail in your job search journey. 

Let’s dive in!

Different Purposes

Employers use resumes to swiftly assess your talents and determine whether you are qualified for a position. 

You can present a complete picture of who you are as a person and a candidate in your cover letter. 

To understand the difference between a cover letter and a resume, consider their functions:

  • A resume summarises your work history and qualifications, giving the hiring manager a factual overview of your professional background.
  • A cover letter on the other hand, lends a voice to your application. It’s a personal statement that allows you to make a case for your candidacy, such as why you want to work for this company and how you can contribute.


Correctly formatting a cover letter is crucial. 

It’s more than just a list; it’s a formal letter to a potential employer and typically fits on one page.

In contrast, a resume has a narrower format. 

It concisely summarises your background and qualifications, containing only essential information. 

Its presentation and visual appeal are vital. A resume is typically one to two pages long.

Resumes and cover letters adhere to distinct structures and formatting guidelines:

  • A resume is a structured document comprising segmented sections, presenting data through concise bullet points. 
  • A cover letter typically has three or four paragraphs. Optionally, you can include a “PS” line beneath your signature.


Cover letters have a personalised approach that helps employers better understand you and your abilities before an in-person meeting. It addresses your future employer directly.

Imagine it as a preview of your job interview: be friendly and confident while maintaining professionalism.

  • Resumes generally adopt a more formal tone, often written in the third person, for added objectivity. 
  • A cover letter is your professional narrative, and it’s expected to be written in the first person, using “I.”

Most companies use an initial screening process: Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

They are used to scan resumes before they reach human recruiters, making resumes better suited for a machine’s understanding. 

A resume is straightforward, with you listing off your background and qualifications.

On the other hand, cover letters are explicitly crafted for human readers, offering a personal touch that sets you apart.

Resumes use a professional tone, while cover letters are more conversational.


A resume gives a thorough picture of your educational and professional background. 

List most or all relevant skills and work experiences that apply to your current job search. 

A cover letter should focus specifically on the job you’re applying to. It should also focus more on present and future objectives.

Your cover letter allows you to introduce yourself, share your passions, and demonstrate how you can contribute to the company, making your job application more personal and engaging.

Although some details may be found in both papers, a cover letter often focuses more on present and future goals, while a resume lists previous employment and achievements.

A Cover Letter Complements Your Resume

A well-crafted resume can suffice for job applications, but enhancing it with a cover letter demonstrates your commitment and superiority for the role. 

A cover letter expands on the most important information provided in your resume and strengthens it. 

The differences across resumes are more subtle. However, cover letters draw greater attention. Good ones stand out. 

It can improve your overall application and help the recruiters make their hiring decision.

More importantly, many recruiters prioritise candidates who submit cover letters. 

Hiring managers say cover letters make them more likely to pay attention to an application.

The extra effort needed to submit a cover letter hints to the recruiter that this candidate is serious about the role.

When it comes to cover letter vs resume, always have a cover letter to complement your resume.

Now you’re ready to send out your job application! Be prepared for your job interviews and learn the secrets hiring managers won’t tell you about getting a job in Singapore.

Diane Wong