Should You Combine Your Cover Letter and Resume into One Document?

Mar 21, 2019

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

The internet has impacted virtually every area of life, including the job search process. Gone are the days when a job-seeker would simply hand an employer a cover letter and resume in paper form. Today, more companies than ever accept digital copies of those job search documents.

In fact, many companies now only accept emailed digital cover letters and resumes. Unfortunately, there’s been little effort to standardize submission processes, and that can make it a little confusing for the average job seeker.

For example, how should you submit your emailed resume and cover letter?

Should you send them separately, or combine them into one document?

In this post, we’ll examine both options and offer the advice you need to make the best decision.

Review The Instructions

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to get the submission guidelines straight from the source. That means asking the company’s hiring manager how your resume and cover letter should be sent. If there are clear instructions, it’s important to follow them to the letter to maximize your chances of receiving the right type of attention.

In many instances, however, you will discover that the instructions are vague. Perhaps the only instruction is that your resume must be emailed. If that’s the case, then you need to decide whether to send them as one document or separately.

Cover Letter and Resume: To Combine or Not to Combine?

Cover letter and resume 2

Let’s get right to the main question here “should you combine the cover letter and resume into one document?” As a rule, no. Since they serve two very different roles in the job search process, they should be treated as separate documents. Obviously, there may be times when you don’t have that option, but that should always be your preferred choice.

When you leave them as separate documents, it is vital to submit them properly. That means learning how to email the resume and cover letter together as separate documents. The following tips can help:

  • Make sure both documents are in the same format. Choose either Microsoft Word, or a PDF file.
  • Use the same naming style for both. Use your first and last name, followed by the document type. If your name was Sam Ford, for example, you would have two documents: SamFordCoverLetter.docx and SamFordResume.docx.
  • If you want to ensure that the document can be read, you may want to send two copies of each, one in Word and one in PDF format.
  • When emailing your cover letter and resume, either include the cover letter as an attachment or copy and paste its text into the email message. Don’t do both.

When You Must Combine Cover Letter and Resume – Job Boards

But what about those instances where you have no choice other than to combine your cover letter and resume?

While this is a rare requirement, there is one place where it may be mandatory: when uploading to a job board.

While many job boards provide a way to upload multiple documents, you may encounter some that lack that option.

If that’s the case, then you will need to submit your cover letter and resume as a single document.

While some experts recommend placing the cover letter first in a combined document, it’s safer to start with the resume. The reason for that is that you want hiring managers to see the resume right away. Some may assume that it’s just a cover letter if that’s the first thing they see.

So, while you should always opt for sending a cover letter and resume as separate documents, be flexible enough to do whatever the situation requires. Check the employer’s instructions and try to follow them to the letter. In the end, the important thing is to get those vital documents into the right hands, to improve your odds of landing an interview.

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

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