Unravel FAQs: What to Include in Your Resume and Cover Letter

Attius Li- Author
Atticus Li
Resume & Cover Letters
July 30, 2023
Blog Post Feature Image

Navigating the world of job applications can feel like a maze, particularly when it comes to crafting effective resumes and cover letters. Studies show that recruiters spend an average of 7 seconds reviewing your application materials — making every word count is crucial! This blog post will demystify the process for you by answering ten frequently asked questions about resume and cover letter creation.

Ready to make a splash with your next job application? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • A well — crafted cover letter is an opportunity to showcase your qualifications and eagerness to work for a specific employer. Tailoring each cover letter is crucial to emphasize individual initiative and stand out from other applicants.
  • Despite the belief that cover letters are becoming obsolete, they still hold importance, especially for senior roles or positions requiring specific skills. Customization and balance between conciseness and comprehensive information are key.
  • Including a cover letter, even if it’s optional in the job application, can give you an advantage. Studies show that many employers prefer to see a cover letter as it provides additional insight into skills and fit for the role.
  • Resumes should ideally be one page long for most applicants but may extend up to two pages maximum, focusing on relevant experience within the past 10 years. Keeping resumes concise, focused on strong assets, using bullet points effectively, and customizing them can make them stand out.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cover Letters

Cover letters are an essential component of a job application, serving to introduce yourself and highlight your qualifications for the position.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

The purpose of a cover letter extends beyond simply submitting your resume. It’s a one-page document that provides an opportunity to showcase how eager you are to work for the specific employer you’re reaching out to.

man reading paper with cup of coffee on the table

Offering tailored, relevant, and positive information about your professional profile, it establishes context and persuades the prospective employer of your suitability for the role at hand.

The importance of carefully tailoring each cover letter cannot be overstated, as it emphasizes individual initiative and genuine interest in the position applied for. Contact details should always be included along with an introduction to your resume.

A well-crafted cover letter goes beyond improving interview chances; it initiates dialogue through strategic queries — if any, making sure you stand out in the pool of applicants!

What should a cover letter include?

A cover letter is a one-page document that communicates vital information to the prospective interviewer or hiring manager. It typically includes your contact details and an explicit mention of the role you are applying for, providing context about your qualifications for the job.

Career experts often advise applicants to customize their cover letters for each position they apply for, ensuring relevancy and demonstrating keen interest in the specific role.

Writing a solid cover letter involves addressing questions around your identity, reason behind writing it, and approach towards potential resume red flags. This additional touch adds weightage to your application as it’s designed to complement your resume by providing visual proof of employment history and skills that align with the job requirements.

Using a template can simplify this process while maintaining room for personalization based on individual experiences and attributes unique to each applicant.

Are cover letters becoming obsolete?

Despite a growing belief among some workers that cover letters are becoming obsolete, most job applications still mandate their submission. They serve as a unique platform for self-introduction and showcasing relevant qualifications beyond the confines of resumes.

However, there’s no denying the decline in importance of cover letters during recruitment processes; many see them as unnecessary and choose to omit them altogether. Yet, when applying for senior roles or positions demanding specific skills, recruiters often give consideration to well-crafted cover letters.

Balancing conciseness with comprehensive information is key to nailing this aspect of job applications — it’s almost an art form unto itself! As evidenced by the contrasting results from ChatGPT generated cover letters experiment: while some were spectacular others turned out generic sounding.

Customization toward particular job descriptions remains crucial too giving you a better shot at landing interviews.

How can I make my cover letter stand out?

To make your cover letter stand out, follow these tips:

  1. Customize it for each position: Avoid using the same cover letter for every application. Instead, tailor it to highlight your relevant skills and experiences for the specific job you’re applying to.
  2. Research the company: Take the time to research the company and understand its values, mission, and culture. Incorporate this knowledge into your cover letter to show that you’re genuinely interested in working there.
  3. Use specific examples and achievements: Instead of simply listing your qualifications, provide concrete examples of how your skills have benefitted previous employers or projects. Highlight any notable achievements that demonstrate your capabilities.
  4. Keep it concise: Employers receive numerous applications, so keep your cover letter brief and focused. Aim for a one-page document that is easy to read and gets straight to the point.
  5. Maintain a professional tone: Write in a professional tone throughout your cover letter. Use language that is clear, direct, and free from jargon or unnecessary fluff.
  6. Proofread diligently: Carefully proofread your cover letter before sending it out to ensure there are no grammatical errors or typos that could undermine your professionalism.
  7. Avoid common mistakes: Remember to omit irrelevant information, refrain from using generic language, and address the hiring manager by name if possible. By avoiding these mistakes, you can make a better impression on potential employers.
  8. Craft a strong opening statement: Grab the reader’s attention right from the start with an engaging opening statement that summarizes why you are an ideal candidate for the position.
  9. Include a compelling closing paragraph: Leave a lasting impression by summarizing why you’re excited about the opportunity and reinforcing how your skills align with what the company is seeking in an employee.
  10. Follow up with enthusiasm: After submitting your application, follow up with the employer to express continued interest in the position and provide any additional information or clarification if needed. This demonstrates enthusiasm and proactive engagement.

Should I include a cover letter if the application says “optional”?

Even if the job application states that a cover letter is optional, it is still highly recommended to include one. Experts suggest that including a cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants and showcase your enthusiasm and qualifications for the position.

In fact, studies have shown that many employers prefer to see a cover letter, even when it’s not required. According to surveys, around 50% to 60% of recruiters and hiring managers prefer candidates who submit a cover letter, as it provides additional insight into their skills and fit for the role.

So, even if you’re tempted to skip the cover letter because it’s optional, taking the time to write one can give you an advantage in the job application process.

Frequently Asked Questions About Resumes

How long should my resume be?

man writing his resume on his laptop

How long should my resume be?

Your resume should ideally be one page long for most applicants, especially for students and those with less than 10 years of relevant work experience. However, it can be up to two pages maximum to accommodate important qualifications and experiences.

Including information from the past 10 years allows you to highlight your most recent and relevant experience. Employers have expectations about what a resume should contain, including the length, content, and format.

Keeping your resume concise and focused on your strongest assets is key. Use keywords and relevant facts from our research to create an effective resume that catches employers’ attention without overwhelming them with unnecessary details.

Should I include all of my work history?

Including all of your work history on a resume is a common question that many job seekers have. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, it’s important to consider the relevance and significance of each position.

Career experts recommend including all relevant roles that align with the job you are applying for, focusing on the most recent and impactful experiences. This allows potential employers to see your skills and past accomplishments in the context of their needs.

However, if you have extensive work history or positions that are not relevant to your current career goals, it may be beneficial to selectively include only the most significant roles.

What format should I use for my resume?

showing hand using a pen to write in the resume

The most common and ATS-compatible format for a resume is the chronological resume, which lists work experience in reverse order. This format allows employers to easily see your most recent and relevant experience first.

A well-structured resume should include sections for contact information, educational background, work and volunteer experience, and skills. Make sure to include your name, email address, phone number, and LinkedIn URL for contact information.

Use bullet point statements to highlight your skills and make it easy for employers to quickly scan through your qualifications. Remember to keep the format of your resume clean and professional-looking so that it stands out to potential employers.

Can I use bullet points in my resume?

Yes, you can definitely use bullet points in your resume. In fact, using bullet points can be a great way to draw attention to your skills and qualifications that are relevant to the open role.

Instead of listing your experiences in paragraph form, bullet points allow you to present information in a more concise and organized manner. When using bullet points, it’s important to keep them concise — ideally one to two lines long.

Aim for around 4–6 bullet points per job role, highlighting your accomplishments and specific contributions. Using action words in your bullet points can also help effectively communicate your experiences and achievements.

How do I make my resume stand out?

To make your resume stand out and catch the attention of employers, consider implementing the following strategies:

employers discussing in a job interview
  • Highlight your key skills and qualifications: Focus on the skills and qualifications that are directly relevant to the job you are applying for. Use keywords from the job description to tailor your resume to each specific position.
  • Showcase your professional achievements: Instead of just listing your job responsibilities, emphasize your accomplishments. Mention specific projects you have worked on or any awards and recognition you have received.
  • Customize your resume: Avoid using a generic, one-size-fits-all resume. Tailor each application by carefully reviewing the job description and incorporating specific keywords and requirements into your resume.
  • Keep it concise: Stick to one or two pages maximum. Be selective in what information you include and prioritize the most relevant details.
  • Choose a format that suits you: Chronological resumes list work experience in reverse chronological order, while functional resumes focus more on skills and abilities. Determine which format best showcases your qualifications and choose accordingly.
  • Emphasize relevant work experience: Place more emphasis on recent positions or roles that align with the job you are applying for. If older experiences are less relevant, summarize them briefly.
  • Include an education section: List any degrees or certifications that are relevant to the position, as well as any notable coursework or academic achievements.
  • References and recommendations: Consider including references or recommendations from previous employers or mentors. This can help showcase your credibility and provide additional support for your qualifications.
  • Proofread carefully: Ensure there are no typos, grammatical errors, or inconsistencies in formatting. Double-check for accuracy and readability before submitting your resume.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cover Letters and Resumes

The section on Frequently Asked Questions About Cover Letters and Resumes answers queries about the differences between the two, whether a generic cover letter can be used for multiple job applications, how personal a cover letter should be, the role of a cover letter in career changes, and tips for proper formatting.

How is a cover letter different from a resume?

A cover letter and a resume serve different purposes in the job application process. While a resume provides a comprehensive overview of your qualifications, education, and experience, a cover letter serves as an introduction to your resume and is specific to each position you are applying for.

The primary goal of a cover letter is to demonstrate interest in a particular employer or job and offer insight into why you are the best candidate for the position. It allows you to showcase your personality, enthusiasm, and motivation for the job.

On the other hand, resumes act as fact sheets that provide prospective employers with information about your skills, achievements, and relevant work history.

While resumes focus on presenting your credentials concisely in bullet points or short sentences, cover letters give applicants an opportunity to convey their interest in more narrative form.

They allow you to highlight specific skills and experiences that align with the requirements of the job.

Should I use the same cover letter for all of the jobs I’m applying for?

It is not recommended to use the same cover letter for every job you apply for. Tailoring your cover letter to each specific position shows employers that you have taken the time and effort to understand their needs and how you can contribute to their organization.

By customizing your cover letter, you can highlight relevant skills, experiences, and qualifications that align with the job requirements, making a stronger case for why you are the ideal candidate.

Personalizing your cover letters also allows you to show enthusiasm and passion for each particular opportunity, increasing your chances of standing out among other applicants. Remember, a generic cover letter may come across as disinterested or lazy, so take the extra step to craft a unique one for every application.

How personal should my cover letter get?

A cover letter should strike a balance between personalization and professionalism. While it’s important to showcase your personality and unique qualifications, it is crucial to maintain a level of formality that aligns with the professional setting.

Personalize your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager by name and tailoring it to match the specific job requirements. Share relevant experiences and achievements that demonstrate your suitability for the role.

However, avoid getting too personal or sharing irrelevant information that may detract from your qualifications. Remember, a well-crafted cover letter provides insight into who you are as a professional while highlighting why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

How can a cover letter help with a career change?

man throwing in the air papers

A cover letter can be a career changer’s biggest asset when looking to make a transition into a new field. It provides an opportunity for candidates to explain how their transferable skills and experiences align with the requirements of the new job.

Instead of simply repeating what is already mentioned in the resume, the cover letter should draw conclusions from the resume and point out areas of unique fit. By personalizing the cover letter to highlight relevant skills, experiences, and aspirations, candidates can demonstrate their enthusiasm for the new role and make a compelling case for why they are a good fit.

A well-crafted cover letter can help bridge any gaps in experience or qualifications and show potential employers that you have done your research and are serious about making this career change.

How can I ensure my cover letter and resume are formatted correctly?

To ensure that your cover letter and resume are formatted correctly, follow these important guidelines:

  1. Use a professional font and format: Choose a clean, easy-to-read font such as Arial or Times New Roman. Stick to a standard size, such as 11 or 12 points, for the text. Use bold or italics sparingly for emphasis.
  2. Customize for each application: Tailor your cover letter and resume to each specific job you’re applying for. Highlight relevant skills and experiences that align with the requirements of the position.
  3. Maintain a professional appearance: Use consistent spacing throughout your documents and avoid overcrowding or excessive white space. Ensure that your margins are balanced and the overall layout is visually pleasing.
  4. Include clear contact details: Make sure your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile (if applicable) are prominently displayed on both your cover letter and resume header.
  5. Highlight qualifications with bullet points: Instead of lengthy paragraphs, use bullet points to concisely showcase your key qualifications and achievements. This makes it easier for hiring managers to quickly scan through your information.
  6. Use proper grammar and spelling: Double-check your cover letter and resume for any grammar or spelling errors. Poor grammar can give a negative impression about your attention to detail.
  7. Pay attention to layout and design elements: Use consistent headings throughout your documents (e.g., “Work Experience,” “Education”) to create a clear organizational structure. Consider using templates or professional design tools to make your documents visually appealing.
  8. Proofread multiple times: After formatting your cover letter and resume, proofread them thoroughly multiple times to catch any typos or mistakes that could undermine their effectiveness.
  9. Seek feedback from others: It’s always helpful to get a fresh pair of eyes on your documents before submitting them. Ask a mentor, friend, or career expert to review your cover letter and resume for formatting accuracy.


In conclusion, understanding the frequently asked questions about resumes and cover letters is crucial for job seekers. By knowing the purpose of a cover letter, how to make it stand out, and the best resume and cover letter formatting guidelines, applicants can increase their chances of landing their dream job.

To increase your chances of getting hired quickly, customized resume that’s AI-Driven Intelligence with Human Expertise creates standout resumes and cover letters. It optimizes keywords, personalizes content, and provides valuable insights, boosting your chances with employers. It would be a game changer in your job search journey, it will make all the difference in your job search.

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