When you think of applying for a job, one of the first things you do is make a resume and a cover letter - they’re the first impression and they literally sell you to the company! We see thousands of CVs at Kwalee from people looking for their next job or swapping sectors to work in the games industry. In this article, we’ll share what is the difference between cover letter and a resume so that you can represent yourself in the best way possible.
While both a cover letter and a resume display your skill set, educational background, and work experience, they serve distinct roles in the job application process. Often mistakenly viewed as identical due to their overlapping content about an individual's career trajectory, they are not the same. In the contemporary competitive job market, knowing the fundamental differences between a cover letter and a resume is essential for jobseekers.
Difference Between Cover Letter and Resume
A cover letter provides a detailed overview of your academic and professional achievements. Some of the basic features of cover letters are:
- Length: cover letters are generally limited to one page, encouraging brevity and a concise presentation of your qualifications and interest in the job.
- Purpose: it is a personalised letter of introduction that accompanies your job application. Its primary purpose is to explain why you are interested in a particular job, how your skills and experience make you a strong candidate, and why you are a good fit for the company or organisation.
- Customisation: cover letters should be written specifically for each job application, so you can tailor it to address the specific requirements and expectations of the employer. Don’t send the same cover letter to different game studios, for example, or the same letter for different roles.
- Formatting: a cover letter has a straightforward structure, with an introductory paragraph, a body section that explains your qualifications and interest, and a closing paragraph expressing your eagerness to discuss further.
A resume on the other hand, is a concise document tailored for a specific job. It highlights your relevant work experience, skills and accomplishments. Some of the basic features of a resume are:
- Length: resumes are usually 1-2 pages long, focusing and highlighting your key qualifications.
- Purpose: resumes are designed to showcase your qualifications for a position, showing a recruiter your work and education history, as well as your key skills so that they can see if you’re a good match for the position at-a-glance.
- Customisation: they can be customised to some extent for each job application, with a focus on highlighting relevant skills and experiences, but it remains relatively static compared to the cover letter.
- Formatting: resumes use bullet points, action verbs, and a visually appealing design to make information easy to scan.
What to do in a cover letter
- Research the company: start by reading about the company and understand its value, culture and mission. Mention something about the company that appeals to you in your opening paragraph. For example, people often talk in our interviews about Kwalee’s games, Creative Wednesday programme, or our different games studios around the world.
- Customise each letter: tailor your cover letter to the specific job you're applying for. Highlight relevant skills, experiences, and qualifications that match the job description. We’re a games studio, for example, so we want to see your passion for games!
- Engage with a strong opening: begin your cover letter with a compelling and concise opening paragraph that grabs the reader's attention. Mention the role you are applying for and why you are interested in it.
- Highlight relevant achievements: use examples to demonstrate your skills and accomplishments relevant to the position.
- Address their potential concerns: if you have gaps in your employment history or other potential red flags, address them honestly and positively in your cover letter.
- Request an interview: in the closing paragraph, express your desire for an interview and provide your contact information. Make it clear that you're eager to discuss your experience further.
What not to do in a cover letter
- Don’t repeat your resume: your cover letter is supposed to complement your resume and not duplicate it. Avoid listing your entire work history or repeating the resume verbatim.
- Don’t be negative: avoid discussing any negative experiences that you had with your previous employers - a good thing to note for the entire application and interview process!
- Don’t make it too long: keep the cover letter concise. It should not be more than 3-4 paragraphs totalling up to 1 page.
- Don’t overuse “I” statements: while it's important to highlight your qualifications, don't overuse the word "I" in your cover letter. Instead, focus on how your skills can benefit the company.
- Avoid grammatical and spelling errors: carefully read your Cover Letter again to check for any grammatical or spelling errors. Typos can make you appear careless. If you’re applying for a game writer position, we hope you know this already!
- Don’t forget to follow-up: after submitting your application, consider sending a follow-up email to express your continued interest in the position.
What to do in a resume
- Tailor your resume: customise the resume according to the job role. Highlight the skill and experiences relevant to the specific position.
- Include contact information: provide your full name, contact number, email address and your LinkedIn profile link. Make sure the contact information is up to date.
- List relevant experience: include a detailed description of your experience, focusing on accomplishments and responsibilities that are similar to the job you are applying for.
- Use action verbs: begin each bullet point with an action verb such as “managed” or “developed” to convey your achievements effectively.
- Include education and certifications: list your educational background, the degree you earned, the institution and the month or year you graduated. Also include any relevant certifications and training programs that enhance your qualifications.
- Proofread your resume: eliminate grammatical errors and typos. Consider having someone else review your resume and give you feedback.
What not to do in a resume
- Don’t include irrelevant information: exclude personal details like marital status, age and hobbies until unless they are relevant to your job or your interests can illustrate your soft skills e.g. teamwork.
- Don’t use unprofessional language: keep your language formal and professional. Avoid using slang or overly casual terms.
- Don’t exaggerate or lie: be honest about your qualifications and experiences. False information can cause problems later on.
- Avoid unreadable fonts or formats: stick to standard fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Avoid overly decorative fonts or complex formats that can be difficult to read.
- Don’t list every job: focus on relevant experience and omit very old jobs, especially if they do not add value to your application.
- Don’t skip keywords: if certain keywords are important for the job you are applying for, then make sure to incorporate them in your resume.
In conclusion, recognising the differences between a resume and a cover letter is really important. These documents serve distinct purposes and are made for different professional contexts. By aligning them with the specific requirements of the job, you improve your application, helping you get closer to that dream job opportunity. Understanding these differences and using the appropriate document for the right context is essential for a successful job search.
Kwalee’s games jobs challenge and reward smart, caring and ambitious people - we’re a creative global team making fun games for all platforms. Find out more about our culture and apply for one of our open roles. Remember that we’re looking for very different things from your resume and cover letter.
What a Resume should look like
What a Cover Letter should look like
We have many job roles available for everyone, including remote opportunities! Head over to our jobs page and see what’s in store at Kwalee for passionate folks like yourself. You can also reach out to us and our recruitment team to ask about roles that fit you. Follow us on social media (TikTok| Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook) to get the latest news on our recruitment efforts.