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What's the Difference Between a CV and a Resume?

February 13, 2018


 Let’s face it - getting a new job isn’t necessarily easy. The logistics of starting a new job aside, simply obtaining the new job can be a tall task. It involves a lot of intentionality and effort all made simultaneously in the right direction at the right time. Most often, job applicants will put together a resume or CV before starting the job search. You’ve heard it before, ‘Time to dust off the ‘ole resume!’ But what is the difference between a resume and a Curriculum Vitae (CV)? The short answer is: they are two completely separate documents and depending on your industry are in no way interchangeable.


What is a Resume?


A resume is a short, straight to the point document that is most often limited to one page, and in some limited cases where excess information is substantive, can be stretched to two pages. The key is to be concise and highlight the key achievements and work/educational history that you posses. You want your resume to stick out from the other applicants, but to also communicate your personal selling points in an efficient manner so that the person reading the document can easily and quickly garner information about you without dwelling on the resume for too long. 


Your resume can certainly be customized to each job or employer you are applying with. For example, a job in an engineering or academic field may be best suited for a chronological resume, whereas a job in the creative field or marketing industry would benefit more from something more creative. A resume should touch all of the important achievements you have, but should definitely be tailored for each application.


What is a CV (Curriculum Vitae)?


In stark contrast to a resume, a CV is a rather in depth document that can extend over multiple pages - as many as necessary - to effectively communicate your nuanced accomplishments. In most cases, a CV will cover in great detail the academic and professional achievements you have had.


Unlike a resume, a CV must be written in chronological order. There is no leeway with the formatting or order in which your career history are documented. A CV is much more similar to a career biography than a resume. Every single detail matters, including awards, honors, and publications. Also, unlike a resume, a CV in unchanging. It’s static nature allows you to utilize your CV across the board, while simply changing the cover letter for the appropriate opportunity.


In summary, a CV is different from a resume in that it differs in length, purpose, and formatting. 


When Should I Use a Resume? When Should I Use a CV?


Now that you know what the individual documents we call resumes and CV’s are, it’s important to understand when and where they should be used in your career search. The short answer as to when each document should be used is, refer to the job posting! As a general rule, job postings will dictate whether the hiring manager or recruiter is looking for a resume or CV to be submitted with your application. 


If for some strange reason there is no specific information as to the type of documentation the employer prefers, our recommendation is to inquire with them directly. It may have been omitted from the job posting in error, or they may have no specific preference. If contacting them is not possible in your situation, you can follow a general rule of thumb which is that in most cases a resume is the preferable document in the United Stated and Canada. In countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, a CV is the most common document.


Additionally, consider the industry you are applying for. Curriculum Vitae’s (CV’s) are most often reserved for careers in the research, medical, scientific, academic or international fields of work. Those types of work can be very nuanced and a CV with it’s great detail is usually the best document to allow for sufficient explanation of your skills and accomplishments particular to the job.


Crafting an effective resume or CV takes skill and an foundational understanding of the nuances between the documents. Both documents are your first and most remembered impression with a potential employer. They provide your first opportunity to sell them the reasons why you are the best fit for their company and to educate them on the benefits of having you as an employee.


Given the importance of these two documents, you should consider outside help to ensure the best results. Hiring a professional resume writing service that can provide stunning resumes and detailed CV’s can be a difference maker for your career. Don’t risk mistakes in formatting or content that could cost you an opportunity! Invest in your future and hire a resume service like USA Resume for your resume and CV needs today!

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