What Is a Resume Letter?

A resume letter is a self-marketing hybrid document that combines a cover letter and a resume. (The resume is not separate.) A resume letter — also called a job letter, a value proposition letter, or a res-u-letter — is typically two pages but sometimes only one page.

Keep the following points in mind when considering whether or not to use resume letters in your job search (instead of separate cover letters and resumes):

  • A resume letter works particularly well when a resume is riddled with hard-to-explain job gaps and other problems (such as demotions and layoffs, career changes, and overqualified workers).

  • Typically used in a targeted mailing campaign, a resume letter attracts notice because it reads more like a story than a document. A resume letter may spill over into another business document category, such as a job ad reply letter, when a formal resume doesn’t present the candidate in the best light.

  • You can send your resume letters via postal mail or e-mail, but if your letter contains graphic design elements, postal mail is the safer choice. Sending design-dependent letters online may cause unexpected results if an applicant tracking system converts the resume letter to plain text format (as it often does for cover letters).

You can, of course, call the HR office at a target company where you plan to send a graphically-enriched resume letter and ask: “Does your applicant tracking system retain cover letters in native format or convert them to text?” And to double check, ask the same question about resumes.

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