A colleague of mine is a second language speaker of English. He is seeking work in academia after he graduates with a cover letter. Would it be more appropriate to use "Persuade" or "Convince" a potential employer that he has the skills required for their position?

Which of the following examples would be more professional in a cover letter for a job application:

I hope that my CV can convince you that I have the suitable experience for the position.

I hope that my CV can persuade you that I have the suitable experience for the position.

  • Purely a personal opinion, but I think you tend to persuade someone to believe a falsehood or do something wrong, but convince them to accept a truth or do the right thing. Jun 14, 2016 at 1:56
  • My recommendation was also against "persuade" to avoid it's connotation with seduction. I am curious whether anyone has a better or more convincing reason or context for one over another.
    – Tom Kelly
    Jun 14, 2016 at 6:34
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of What's the difference between "persuade" and "convince"?
    – Tonepoet
    Jul 19, 2016 at 4:28

1 Answer 1


Both words mean to bring someone around to support an argument advanced, in this case that particular someone is potential employer and the argument is that your friend is qualified. Sticklers claim that you must persuade a person to act and convince a person only to believe. Of the distinction, Steven Pinker says in A Sense of Style

"...few writers care."

And a brief dance with the google convinced me that he's right and persuaded me to write this answer.

  • Your final sentence conforms to the syntactic distinction made by Bill Bryson and summarized in this Guardian piece: [Bryson] declares it is possible to persuade someone to do something without convincing them of the correctness or necessity of doing it. He also alerts us to a grammatical difference: persuade may be followed by an infinitive, but convince may not. But presumably you don't agree with Bryson's first point as made there. Jun 14, 2016 at 14:07
  • @FumbleFingers Yes, my last sentence so conforms, and I'd mark these things if it didn't require learning how to use emoticons. My first sentence may lead readers to believe that persuade only means to induce belief, and that's not true. You may persuade someone to belief or action, so Bryson's first point is valid. But writers follow convince with infinitives all the time, caring little, as PInker notes, about these dicta.
    – deadrat
    Jun 14, 2016 at 21:27
  • Apparently, convince + infinitive wasn't very popular until a few decades ago, but it's actually more common than persuade + infinitive now. Rules are made to be broken, as they say. Jun 15, 2016 at 0:20

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