How to Match Your Cover Letter and Your Resume

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Your cover letter and resume are often the first exposure a potential employer has to you. When the two documents do not look like they belong together, it can be confusing and disorienting for the hiring committee. With a little bit of extra effort, you can create a matching set that looks professional and put-together.

The most elementary way to match your cover letter and resume is to use the same fonts and document formatting. Chances are, your resume design uses two fonts, one for the body and one for the headings. Use the body font on your letter; in doing so, you'll ensure that the bulk of the text on both documents looks the same. For maximum matching, use the same text size and spacing. Before you send your application out, check for readability on both documents. If you've used a small font on your resume to fit in more information, ensure that it doesn't make your letter too difficult to read.

If you are using custom letterhead for your cover letter, bring in the heading font from your resume to add even more design continuity. Apply the font to the header and footer of the letterhead. When you can do so without sacrificing the style, keep it the same size as the headings on your resume. If you are using a standard business letter format, on the other hand, don't try to work the heading font in; it will only end up making the letter look unbalanced.

Traditional fonts, when used across a cover letter and resume, may not be striking enough to create a strong visual connection. This is particularly true for common fonts like Times New Roman and Arial, which are relatively unadorned. In this case, you can add additional visual elements to help the documents match.

If your resume uses horizontal lines to separate sections, add matching lines to the header and footer of your letter. Alternatively, you can use a monogram mark, scrolling lines or decorative section-break graphics. These resume design elements can create a memorable connection between the two documents.

With modern job applications, it is common to send digital versions of your resume and cover letter to each potential employer. If you mail the application, you have an opportunity to create a matching set. Print both documents on the same high-quality paper. For extra impact, choose a paper with a slightly heavier weight or an off-white color. In a stack of applications, yours will automatically stand out.

The process of matching your cover letter to your resume takes a minimal amount of time but has a significant visual payoff. In the process, you can demonstrate to employers your attention to detail and design aesthetic.

Photo courtesy of Gualberto107 at


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