Resume vs Cover Letter

It's hard to believe that three weeks have slipped by since my last blog post. In that time we did host friends from Ontario. And they kindly hosted us to a few days in Tofino, Canada's western-most town.

What a wild place! Waves, whose power you can sense from afar, wash up and over the sand beaches with relentless repetition; outrageous bull whip kelp ( are heaped here and there, buzzing with flies of unknown variety; and people stand staring at the ocean's expanse, mesmerized. (That's Richard and I posing for our photo at Canada's edge, and yes, we have matching jackets. We are frugal shoppers and these were half price! There's an added bonus too: they reliably bring smiles to peoples' faces!)

It is a singular experience, that place where the sidewalk ends.

Good thing I love how I earn my living as vacation interludes end and it's back to work!

In the past few weeks I have heard the same comment from a few potential or existing clients. It seems that some people put most of their effort into the cover letter, in terms of customizing the content to the job applied to, and leave the resume somewhat more generalized.

This is flawed thinking folks, and here is why.

The cover letter is not read or perused reliably, but the resume is. If the recruiter sees no value in your resume's content, why would he or she take the time to check your cover "just in case," when there are many resumes to parse?

Remember that your goal is to be selected for an interview, and the recruiter's goal is to reduce the pile of applicants to a short-list of a few, meaning that he or she is looking for reasons to eliminate as many as possible. If you've lost the recruiter's interest with a generic resume, you've given the recruiter a reason to eliminate your application.

Here's a little exercise: Which of the two summary examples below would be of interest to you if you were hiring an HR Assistant?

"team player with flexibility, commitment and a strong desire to succeed ... excellent interpersonal skills and communication skills."


"experienced HR Assistant who works collaboratively to implement corporate goals, joins teams and committees struck to review corporate policies vs new legislation, and who has earned a reputation as a one-person data-entry maximizer."

I see the first example in, not just HR Assistant resumes, but in many resumes, right across the board from entry to senior level, from blue collar to professional.

Don't provide an employer with reasons for your elimination! In all your correspondence, use exact language, specify your skill types, and WOW!!! the recruiter. 

Working to Your Career's Success, Stephanie