Landing a great job is always a challenge and you need to have the right resources on your side in order to do it. This will require, along with plenty of other things, a resume or a curriculum vitae. Contrary to what you might have heard, these two documents are not interchangeable. Here is a guide to understanding CVs and Resumes and knowing when each is appropriate.
Basic Differences And Similarities
Both the curriculum vitae (plural curricula vitae) and the resume are intended to be summaries of your professional and educational accomplishments. They also include contact information which will allow interested employers to get in touch with you. Resumes and CVs should both be tailored to match the position you are applying for, although the CV being more comprehensive, does not change very much.
The curriculum vitae has always had a more academic slant than the resume. It delves into greater detail regarding your academic history and it is expected to be longer overall. In contrast, the resume is supposed to be an efficient career summary. Brevity and clarity are the chief values of a good resume and the one-page resume is considered ideal for everyone except the very most experienced employees.
Key Features Of The CV
As noted above, the curriculum vitae is academically oriented. This means you will include much more than simply the places and dates where you acquired degrees. A CV can highlight academic achievements, such as, grants and awards, describe theses or dissertations, and describe relevant experience beyond jobs (e.g. internships, lab work, field work, to name a few). Curricula vitae should also list any and all career-relevant publications you have made.
CVs also provide a list of the professional and academic organizations you belong to. If you have participated in major conferences or projects in a significant way, these should be mentioned as well. Finally, the curriculum vitae usually includes contact information for references.
As you can imagine, the curriculum vitae can grow very long, especially for seasoned professionals in academic disciplines. Completeness is valued over brevity here and there is nothing wrong with taking as much space as you need when crafting a curriculum vitae.
Key Features Of The Resume
The name of the resume is taken from the French word for summary, and you should let that be a strong indication of the document’s focus. Resumes should be one or at most, two pages. While resumes were rather generic in the past, in the modern job market, employers expect to see resumes tailored to fit the needs of the specific position. That means you may need to “mix and match” information to build the perfect, concise resume.
Resumes focus primarily on two areas: work experience and skills. While both always need to be included, resumes can be slanted towards one or the other area. Chronological resumes lead with your work history while functional resumes concentrate on skills. Unless you have a good idea about the preferences of your potential employer, it is best to select the resume format that presents yourself in the most positive light. Functional resumes are particularly useful for people transitioning into new industries or ending a long work interruption.
Picking The Right Document
Hopefully, your potential employer will explicitly call for either a CV or a resume in their job listing. Submitting one document when the employer is expecting another is a bad way to start your relationship. Do not be afraid to contact the company you are applying to and ask for clarification if you are unsure.
CVs tend to be far more common in academic and scientific fields than in business, especially in the US. The curriculum vitae is often preferred in Europe and non-US English-speaking countries around the world. It is important to note that the common CV in these regions (particularly outside of academic circles) is closer to an extended resume than the full curriculum vitae described above. If you have recently moved to a country where the document conventions are different, seek out local advice on resumes and CVs and look at some examples.
Ultimately, there is no absolute standard that governs which document is the best fit for a given job application. You need to use your intuition and what you know about a potential employer’s needs to craft an impressive resume or CV. As long as you are mindful of an employer’s stated preference and craft a solid example, you should be able to put your best foot forward on paper.
David Miller is a successful business owner who owns and operates the site, findhighereducationjobs.com which is designed to connect people with the best job opportunities available.
I was speaking with the Head of Adult Services at our local library about a program she has established for helping library patrons with their career searches. I do some volunteer work for this program – helping people write new resumes. Our conversation led us to an examination of one of our ongoing problems – even though we both know that many of our local residents are looking for employment, almost nobody comes to the program for resume assistance.
There are probably many explanations for this, but we focused on one of the major reasons. Many people do not want their friends, neighbors and relatives to know that they are looking for a job. They are embarrassed; they are ashamed; they are caught up in the old feeling that “there must be something wrong with me if I don’t have a job.” Unfortunately, this feeling of “not wanting anyone to know I’m looking for a job” is in direct conflict with the most important thing a person can do when he/she needs a job – networking!
As a recruiter and a career counselor, I tell people who are looking for a job to tell everybody they know. This networking activity is the single most important part of a career search. Even in this era of the internet, job boards, instant communication and specialized recruiters, most professionals who effectively network find better jobs, and more quickly, than those who don’t. My advice is to let everybody know that you are seeking your next career opportunity – not just people who might want to hire you – everyone you know. Tell your dentist – you never know who might be sitting in that chair after you leave. Tell your accountant – he/she meets with professionals and managers all the time. Tell your neighbor – his company might be hiring, or his dentist/accountant might have just told him about someone else’s career opportunity. They say that we are each only 5 people away from knowing everyone. I’m not sure that’s true, but I am sure that the best single thing you can do if you are actively seeking your next career opportunity is to tell people that you are looking.
Here’s a related thought. When I started recruiting 30 years ago, there were some employers who did not want to consider individuals who were not working. Those days are long gone. In these times of mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, down sizings and cost reductions, just about everyone has either lost a job due to no fault of his/her own or knows people who have had this happen to them. The stigma is just about gone – the few people who still think that way are not worth your time or your concern. Concentrate on the hiring managers who will consider who you are and what you’ve accomplished when making their hiring decisions.
I can’t believe that today is the first day of Spring. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was complaining about it being the first day of Winter. Time sure zips right by when you’re having fun. And I have been having a pretty good time meeting people (in person or over the telephone/internet) and writing resumes and cover letters for them.
The number of resumes I’ve written has been gratifying (I really do appreciate the business), but the variety of the professional backgrounds has been astounding. In the last several weeks I’ve worked with law enforcement professionals, IT folks, nurses, physicians, HR Directors, sales people, and several soldiers and marines. I think that this is my favorite part of the resume writing business – getting to meet and know people with different skills and from many different professional backgrounds. Most people are truly fun – they are interesting and they all have their own unique story to tell. Many times in my life I’ve missed these stories because I was too busy to stop and listen. Working on their resumes forces me to take the time, and I almost always come away from the experience feeling like I have received as much as I have given. I’m a pretty lucky guy – I actually like my job.
I’m also pleased that most of my customers seem to like the job I do for them. I get positive feedback from them after they receive their new resume, and many of them also send me very nice testimonials about my resumes and my work. And now, our resume writing service has received a pretty impressive award. We’ve been awarded the Thumbtack Elite Award from www.thumbtack.com (a marketplace for local services – Thumbtack connects trustworthy service professionals with their customers). We have been ranked the #1 Resume Writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am grateful to thumbtack for their recognition, and I am really grateful to my many customers. I’m happy that they like their new resumes, I’m glad that they appreciated how they were treated, and I wish them good luck as they pursue their next professional opportunity.
Thanks to all!
Time flies…! Not only did the holidays just zip right by, but I also seem to have completely missed the first 11 days of 2012.
Seriously, I didn’t miss the first week – I was just very busy. In fact, since January 1st, I’ve written more resumes and cover letters than in the entire period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. People just seem to put their career-related activities on hold for the holidays – if it hasn’t happened by Thanksgiving, then it will just have to wait for January.
Here’s what I think about that – not a good idea! In fact, it’s a really BAD idea!
Think about it. Those of you who have ready our website and/or my blogs can probably figure out what comes next. But, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, I’m going to lay a little ground work first. The economy is not good – there are a lot of people trying to get not -a-lot of jobs. So, anything you can do to get ahead of this curve, anything you can do to get out from under this problem, anything you can do to increase the chances that your resume will actually be looked at is a good thing.
You’re probably starting to see the light at the end of my tunnel, right? You know what I’m going to say next, don’t you?
Why not get your resume all updated and rewritten and ready to go when everyone else has taken 6 weeks off? Why not do some planning and some research and some networking in late November and December when most of the people competing with you are only thinking about putting up their outside decorations and buying the right turkey or ham? Why not identify some jobs you’d really like to have, write some specific cover letters, and actually apply for these jobs when most everyone else is not applying?
That’s my message for today. Do whatever you can to get in front (or at least away from the back) of the curve. Holidays are wonderful – enjoy them and all that comes with them. But you should also continue, and even increase, your job searching efforts. And I’m not just talking about the recent holiday period. The same advice applies to Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Keep working at getting a job – do it every day. You might find that you’ll be seriously considered for more good jobs when fewer people are applying for them.
One other thing for some of you job/career seekers out there. There’s a brand new web site out there – www.begreatexecutivebranding.com – you should check it out. It’s a comprehensive concierge service for professionals looking to maximize their social media branding, polish their online image, and craft their written messaging. Again, you should check it out. I know the guy behind this – Laurence Verga – he’s one of the good ones.
There are many components to a successful job search. And all of these components are important to the process. For, without them, the already difficult task of finding a job becomes much more difficult.
But, if I had to choose just one component, and if I was forced to identify this one component as “most important” – my choice would be a simple one to make.
Networking! Networking is the single most important part of a job search.
And what, exactly, is networking? It’s just talking and communicating and reaching out to people. Networking is simple. You simply tell people that you’re looking for a job – a lot of people – just about anyone you can think of.
I’m already a 100% believer in networking. But if I needed any further encouragement, I found it at a sporting goods store on November 14th of this year. True story! I’m standing in line behind several hunters (I live in Michigan, our firearm’s deer season starts on November 15th, and my 15 year old is an avid hunter) and I hear one of them talking to his hunting buddy about how difficult and long his job search has been. He talked about his discipline (a telecommunications solution provider), and about how frustrating it had been to be out of work for over 3 months. True story! The guy behind them in line has also been listening, and after a few minutes he interrupts their conversation and starts asking the job seeker questions about his background and his experience. Long story short – he listens for a bit, and then introduces himself, tells the fellow that he has been looking for someone like him for quite a while, and invites him to his office the following week for a job interview.
Now, I can’t say how the rest of this story played out. I don’t know how the interview went. I don’t even know for sure that the interview took place. But I do know this. Without the networking that occurred in that line – nothing would have happened to help this guy’s job search. With the networking – he was invited in for an interview for a job he seemed qualified for. And I also know this. If you don’t interview for a job, you don’t get the job. It’s that simple.
Be Ready IF You Lose Your Job
I got a call from an old friend yesterday. It was good to hear from him – we caught up on all the old news, chatted a bit about some people we both know, and told each other the same lies we’ve been telling for years.
Then he got around to telling me why he was calling. I hear what he told me all the time – it’s a very common story. It happens to lots of people all the time, and I’ve become somewhat immune to it by now. But that didn’t make it any less painful and confusing for my friend – it was up front and very personal to him.
He had just lost his job – a job he had had for 26 years. “Oh my gosh – I don’t know what to do – I didn’t see this coming – I don’t know what to do – I knew we were having some problems, but I thought my job was safe – I don’t know what to do – …I don’t know what to do.”
You probably get my message here. My friend is a real sharp guy – but he doesn’t have a clue what to do now. He’s got a great education and a lot of real impressive experience – but he doesn’t have a clue what to do now. HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
He’ll be fine – eventually. He’ll pout and feel sorry for himself and get angry…and then he’ll finally get to a place where he can start thinking about what to do next. He and I will talk, and I’ll help him write his resume, and he’ll find a new job – eventually.
So, here’s the point. Don’t get caught like my friend. I’m not saying that you should worry every day about losing your job. But I am saying that, if you never consider the possibility of losing your job – you’re being awfully naïve and you’re just kidding yourself. This is 2011, and nobody’s job is totally safe. It’s called the “godfather syndrome” – not personal, just business. But you’re still dead, or at least your job is.
Keep your head up and your eyes open. And, every couple of years, take a good look around. And, on a regular basis, ask yourself what you would do if you lost your job. And I don’t mean just as a casual question with no real answer. I mean – actually think about the specific steps you’d take if you lost your job.
Be prepared. You won’t be sorry.
Purpose of an Interview
Over the years we at Holland & Associates have sent out hundreds of candidates on interviews. In preparing them for their interview, we always ask: “what is the purpose of your interview?” It is surprising that only a few people get the right answer.
The correct answer is “to get an offer.”
Interviewing is basically a one-sided affair. The company has all the cards and you have to be astute enough to be able to win the game. If you realize the purpose of the interview, that helps provide the focus for success. It also has the added benefit of reducing your anxiety level.
If you interview and get an offer, you win. You then can accept the offer, make a counter offer, or reject the offer. In short, you get to decide. You are being proactive instead of reactive. If you don’t get an offer, there is nothing to decide. Total strangers get to make your career decision. Moreover, you have basically wasted your time and the company’s money,
Put yourself in a position to succeed by remembering why you are interviewing – to get an offer!
I just got off the phone with a very impressive professional gentleman who called me after looking at our website. Seriously, this guy had a combination of interpersonal skills, personality, likeability and successful business experience that made speaking with him a truly enjoyable experience. And, as if this wasn’t enough, he had sent me his resume, and it’s a beauty. Obviously, this fellow is, as my partner is fond of saying, “the whole package.”
So, why did this guy call me? Why did he want to pick the brain of someone who writes resumes (a service he doesn’t need)? All he needs to do is get his resume into the hands of a few key decision makers in his industry, and they’ll probably all make him an offer. In fact, this fellow was recruited by hiring managers he already knew for his last two jobs. And this previous experience is why he called me. This “I got my last two jobs by just answering the phone and accepting an invitation to talk/interview” situation is why he called me. He doesn’t have a clue how to go out and identify and find and sell himself for his next career opportunity – that’s why he called me.
We spoke for a while, and then I arranged for him to spend a few hours with Paul, one of our long-time associates who specializes in helping professionals put together their plan of attack for getting their next job. Paul’s real good at this. They will talk, and talk, and talk. Paul will ask a lot of questions, and then listen very carefully to the answers. And, when they are done, this gentleman will be amazed at how much of a plan he has put together. He’ll have plenty to do. He’ll be able to spend all day, every day, looking for his next career opportunity. In fact, his plan will probably be so extensive that he’ll probably get his next job before he can fully implement it.
Here’s my point. Everyone is good at something – some people are good at lots of things. But the fact that you are personable and likeable and are a very successful business person does not mean that you will be good at finding your next job. Everyone needs help with some of the problems in their life. Some of us can fix out own sink; some of us call a plumber. Some of us mow our own lawns; some of us use a lawn service. Some of us go out and find the love of our life; some of us use computer dating.
And, some of us can easily put a plan together for finding their next job, and some of us call Holland & Associates and have them help with this project.
Don’t be shy. If you can do this on your own – do it. If you can’t do it alone – don’t waste valuable time – call us! We can help!
One of my resume clients asked me an interesting question the other day.
She knew that I’ve been in the search and recruiting business for 26 years, and because of this she assumed (a very dangerous thing to do, but that’s a topic for another day) that I would have the answer to her question.
She asked me – What is the definition of a perfect candidate for a job?
I thought about this for a moment, and then I asked her the same question. I told her that I would give her my answer, but that first I wanted to know what she thought. I wanted her to give me her definition of the perfect candidate.
She took a breath and started talking. She talked about general and specific experience…she talked about education…she talked about attitude and personality and style…she even talked about the hiring manager liking you as a first step. In other words, by the time I stopped her she had mentioned at least 10 or 12 important criteria of the hiring process. And everything she had mentioned was important…every one of the things she talked about is an important part in the “getting a job” process. But none of them was the answer to her question. Not one of them was a complete answer to the question – What is the definition of the perfect candidate for a job?
Those of you who are familiar with my Keep It Simple Resumes will not be surprised at my next statement. Because the answer is simple, much more simple than evaluating someone’s experience or style or business philosophy. In fact, the answer is so simple that, until you give it some thought, you might not believe that it’s the right answer at all. But, after you think about it a bit, I’m confident that most of you will see the truth and the value in my answer.
The perfect candidate for a job is – The Person Who Gets The Job! He/she was good enough to be offered the job, and he/she took it. End of story! The search is over! The requisition is filled! The hiring manager is happy! Human Resources can cross this one off of their list!
Think about it. The message here is real simple. If your resume doesn’t make the cut – if it doesn’t make it into the “to be considered” pile – if your resume doesn’t get you an invitation to interview for the job – then you won’t get the job. You might be 100% qualified for the job – you might be 10 times as good as the other candidates – you might actually be the perfectly-qualified candidate. But if the other candidates interview and you don’t, and if one of the other candidates gets the job and you don’t – then the other person is the perfect candidate for the job – NOT YOU!