Difference Wiki

CV vs. Cover Letter: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 10, 2023
A CV details an individual's professional and educational history, while a Cover Letter introduces and expresses interest in a specific job position.

Key Differences

A CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is a comprehensive document that chronicles an individual’s academic and professional achievements. Designed to give an in-depth overview, a CV lists educational qualifications, work experiences, skills, awards, and sometimes personal details. For many, the CV serves as an all-encompassing professional profile that provides employers with extensive information about a candidate's career trajectory.
In contrast, a Cover Letter is a more personalized document tailored to a specific job application. This letter provides a platform for candidates to introduce themselves and express their keenness for the role. A Cover Letter offers insights into how a candidate's experiences make them the ideal choice for a particular position. It's an avenue for applicants to correlate their skills and achievements with job requirements, making a compelling case for their candidacy.
One significant distinction between a CV and a Cover Letter lies in their purposes. While a CV is more of a factual record, the Cover Letter delves deeper into the "why" of an application. The CV lists credentials, whereas the Cover Letter narrates a story, offering context and reasons for the applicant's interest in a role and organization.
Another way to differentiate the two is by examining their lengths and content structures. A CV might span multiple pages, especially for seasoned professionals, as it comprehensively catalogs one's career. On the other hand, a Cover Letter is concise, typically restricted to a single page, directly addressing the hiring manager and emphasizing suitability for the role.

Comparison Chart


Details academic and professional history.
Introduces applicant and expresses interest in a job position.


Can be multiple pages.
Typically one page.


Factual: education, work experiences, skills, etc.
Personalized: tailored to a specific job, explaining suitability.

Addressed to

General; not addressed to a specific person.
Specific; often addressed to the hiring manager.

Frequency of Alteration

Updated with new experiences but not tailored for each job.
Tailored for each job application.

CV and Cover Letter Definitions


A detailed record of one's professional and academic achievements.
Samantha's CV showcased a decade of marketing experience.

Cover Letter

An avenue to connect one's experiences with job requirements.
The Cover Letter highlighted Lisa's accomplishments that made her fit for the managerial role.


A comprehensive document listing qualifications, experiences, and skills.
The recruiter was impressed by the extensive list of publications on James' CV.

Cover Letter

A personalized letter introducing a candidate for a specific job role.
In her Cover Letter, Maria emphasized her passion for digital design.


An overview of an individual's career trajectory and accomplishments.
Michael updated his CV before applying to the senior researcher position.

Cover Letter

A tool to make a compelling case for candidacy in job applications.
Her Cover Letter convincingly argued why she was the best fit for the marketing position.


A structured format to present one's professional credentials.
Before the interview, she sent over her CV to provide an overview of her background.

Cover Letter

A narrative providing context to a job application.
Through his Cover Letter, Raj conveyed his eagerness to join the firm's innovative team.


A tool used in job applications to relay one's qualifications.
The hiring manager reviewed each applicant's CV meticulously.

Cover Letter

A document expressing interest and suitability for a position.
Kevin's Cover Letter detailed how his skills aligned with the company's needs.


Same as curriculum vitae; - a commonly used initialism.


A summary of your academic and work history


Being five more than one hundred


What does CV stand for?

CV stands for "Curriculum Vitae," Latin for "course of life."

What tone should a Cover Letter adopt?

A Cover Letter should be professional, yet convey enthusiasm for the role.

Can I use the same Cover Letter for different jobs?

No, each Cover Letter should be tailored to the specific role and company you're applying to.

What's the main purpose of a Cover Letter?

A Cover Letter introduces the candidate and expresses interest in a specific job role.

What details are typically included in a CV?

A CV lists education, work experiences, skills, certifications, and sometimes personal details.

Do all job applications require a CV?

Most professional job applications require a CV, but specifics can vary based on the industry or region.

How often should I update my CV?

Update your CV whenever you gain new skills, experiences, or academic credentials.

How long is an average CV?

While it varies, a CV can range from 1-3 pages, depending on the individual's experiences.

What's the biggest mistake in a Cover Letter?

One major mistake is not tailoring it to the specific job and company.

Is a photo required on a CV?

It varies by region and industry. In the U.S., photos on CVs are typically discouraged.

How personal should a Cover Letter be?

While a Cover Letter is personalized, it should remain professional, focusing on suitability for the role.

Can a Cover Letter make up for a lack in the CV?

A Cover Letter can highlight strengths and explain gaps, but cannot fully replace solid credentials.

Is a digital CV different from a traditional one?

The content is similar, but a digital CV might include links, videos, or an online portfolio.

Is a CV necessary for entry-level positions?

Often, yes. Even for entry-level roles, a CV showcases education and any relevant experiences.

Does the Cover Letter or CV get read first?

Typically, the CV is scanned first, but a compelling Cover Letter can make a significant difference.

Can a CV include hobbies and interests?

Yes, if they're relevant to the job or showcase transferable skills.

Should the Cover Letter repeat the CV?

No, the Cover Letter should complement the CV, offering insights not evident in the CV.

Is the CV more important than the Cover Letter?

Both documents serve different purposes and are crucial in their own right.

Should I mention salary expectations in a Cover Letter?

Only if the employer explicitly asks for it.

How should a Cover Letter address the hiring manager?

Ideally, by name. If unknown, "Dear Hiring Manager" is acceptable.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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