The CV Versus The Resume – Understanding The Differences

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May
11

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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.

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