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To the untrained eye, it may seem that a résumé and a CV are basically the same thing. Aren’t they both just what you send in response to a job offer? Well, yes and no. And that’s what can make choosing the right format a little tricky for a job seeker.
Though they have something in common, résumés and CVs are pretty different, and are used in very different situations.
What do I mean? Keep reading to find out.
Table of contents
Let’s start with what both words mean.
Just from this information alone, you can probably guess the main difference between these two formats, right? I mean, curriculum vitae does kind of sound like a spell straight out of Hogwarts.
CVs are much longer and more detailed, and are most often used to describe academic achievements, research findings, or even publish articles, books, or other works.
Are you applying for the position of senior researcher on a university research team? A CV is the way to go.
Résumés, on the other hand, are a more general summary of the work history relevant to the particular job you are applying for.
Résumés are good when applying for any type of job outside academia, from waitress to marketing specialist to elementary school teacher.
Another difference is that “résumé” is an American term, though the word would be understood by most British hiring managers as well, should you be applying for a job overseas.
Now, let’s get into some details.
Right off the bat, you should know that unless you are some sort of academic, you will probably be submitting a résumé and not a CV — like about 98% of the population. And a good thing, too, as résumés are shorter and generally simpler to write than CVs.
As I mentioned above, a résumé is basically just a concise, often point-form summary of the work experience and skills you have that could be useful in the job you are applying for.
In a résumé, your educational background is just that, a backdrop for the more important information on your previous jobs.
According to most recruiters, a good résumé is often just 1 page long. This means relevance is key, so don’t waste precious room on your résumé rambling about everything you have ever done.
Statistics also show that recruiters and hiring managers spend an average of 6 (!!!) seconds skimming each résumé, so you can see why it is so important to keep things short, sweet, and to the point.
How, you ask? We’re just getting to that.
A good résumé is made up of a few specific parts. Listed in the order they should appear, they are:
And that’s it, that’s all a résumé should be. If you need a more detailed guide on how to write a good résumé, check out this one I wrote.
Getting back to the Latin translation of the word – “course of life” — for a moment, a CV is indeed a comprehensive description of the course of your professional life.
Unlike the concise résumé, a CV can go on for pages and pages, depending on how many awards, honors, publications, discoveries and other achievements you have — and you are going to want to mention pretty much all of them.
CVs also need to be updated regularly, in order to keep up with all of the projects you’re involved in and fully showcase your academic excellence. Don’t be shy, it’s not bragging if it’s true 😄
Like a résumé, a good CV is made up of a few parts. Listed in the order they should appear, they include:
These four sections should be first. The order you put the rest of your CV sections is up to you. Depending on just how many achievements you have, they can be divided into categories such as:
Depending on how long your career has been, this may not even be all of the things you can mention, so don’t be shy!
No matter how dedicated you are to your cause, remember that modesty won’t land you your dream job — it’ll go to the person who can do the best job showing how good they are.
After you’ve listed all of your academic achievements, feel free to add:
This might seem like A LOT. But remember: CVs are supposed to be long. Plus, come on, you deserve the chance to brag a little! And if you still feel like you need a little help with writing a good CV, check out this article I wrote.
Phew! That was a lot of information, but it looks like we made it to the end. I hope this guide has helped you decide what you need to submit and how to go about doing it.
Now it’s time for you to do some writing — and remember to check out my detailed guides on how to write both résumés and CVs if you need some help.
See you next time!