"CV vs. Resume": What’s the Difference Between a Resume and CV?

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"CV vs. Resume": What’s the Difference Between a Resume and CV?

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Joanna Ryś

Sourcing Specialist

Joanna Ryś

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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.

Résumés vs CVs – a general overview

Let’s start with what both words mean.

  • CV stands for curriculum vitae, which is Latin for “course of life”.
  • Résumé, on the other hand, is French for “summary”.

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.

CV vs. Resume - complete guide

Curriculum Vitae

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.

Resume

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.

CV vs. Resume - a general overview

What a résumé is

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.

CV vs. Resume - What a résumé is

How to write a good résumé

A good résumé is made up of a few specific parts. Listed in the order they should appear, they are:

  1. Personal data
    This is where you should put basic information like your name and surname, phone number(s) and e-mail address. More personal details such as your date of birth, marital status, or heaven forbid religious/political affiliations should never be included.

    The same goes for your picture — if the position you are applying for is not that of a model, your appearance should be irrelevant to a potential employer.
  2. Candidate description/career summary
    This section is pretty short but also very important, as it may be the only thing the recruiter actually reads. In general, a few sentences including the most important information about you as an employee and what you specialize are enough. Read more about resume objective.
  3. Professional experience
    This section is the real meat and potatoes of your résumé, and should contain straightforward, well-organized information about the companies you’ve worked for and when, as well as what your positions entailed. And don’t forget to list your skills!
  4. Education
    As I said before, your education is not the most important information on your résumé, though it is necessary to mention it. A short, chronological list of educational institutions you’ve attended will be fine.
  5. Skills
    Usually divvied up into soft and hard skills, this section’s task is to showcase your specific skills — these can include communication skills (a soft skill) or Adobe Photoshop proficiency (a hard skill).

    Foreign languages you speak are also usually listed here, unless you speak so many they warrant a section of their own — in which case, kudos 😄
  6. Other/additional sections
    These are optional and vary from person to person. Some list their hobbies, others certificates they possess. It’s up to you.

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.

What a CV is

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 😄

CV vs. Resume - CV - a general overview

How to write a good CV

Like a résumé, a good CV is made up of a few parts. Listed in the order they should appear, they include:

  1. Header with contact information
    This section should include your full name and professional title (you’re applying for a job in academia, remember?), as well as contact details — your phone number(s), e-mail address, LinkedIn profile and perhaps your home address as well.
  2. Professional profile/research objective
    You can approach this section from 2 different angles. The first is the professional profile, where you briefly introduce yourself and your achievements — a 100-word paragraph should be enough to do that.

    Alternately, you can write a research objective, which concentrates more on how your knowledge will be applicable in the position you are applying for and how you hope to develop through it. Once again, 100 words should be enough.
  3. Professional experience
    A key part of your CV, this part needs to not only list where you have worked, but how you worked. What did your work result in? What achievements did you have?
  4. Education
    You’ve dedicated your life to learning, so this section is your time to shine. No need to mention your high school, but other than that, tell the recruiters all about your higher education.
Other sections in the CV

Other sections in the CV

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:

  • Publications
    Best presented appendix-style, this section should include anything you have written or contributed to the writing of, including books or book chapters, journal articles, case studies, review articles and more.
  • Research/lab/field experience
    Any teams you have been part of, any contributions you have made to science or knowledge as a whole – make sure the recruiter knows about them!
  • Awards and honors
    I don’t think I need to convince you that any and all of your awards and honors should be on your CV.
  • Grants and other funding
    Was your research deemed important enough to receive funding? Great, now write it down!
  • Teaching experience
    This can include anything from college classroom lectures to supervision, mentoring, and curriculum development.
  • Administrative experience
    Experience in any positions of responsibility and organizational skills are a merit in virtually any context.
  • Attendance at conferences and seminars
    Any invitations you have gotten to speak or present add to your prestige and are something you should definitely be mentioning.
  • Memberships
    Are you a member of any professional bodies or other societies? That’s an asset worth mentioning, too!

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.

How to Write a CV - Final Polish

After you’ve listed all of your academic achievements, feel free to add:

  • foreign languages you speak
  • other skills or certifications you may possess

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!

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Joanna Ryś

Joanna Ryś

Sourcing Specialist

Joanna Ryś

Sourcing Specialist

Joanna has 8 years of experience in the recruitment industry, and currently works as the Chief Strategist for Sourcing in the EMEA area at HAYS. Microsoft, Rolls Royce Aerospace, Abbott, AB Inbev are several companies from the...portfolio of clients with whom it has cooperated, and its tasks include defining strategies for obtaining candidates in Europe, independent management of recruitment tools, monitoring the rate of return on investment, implementing initiatives from the area of Employer Branding into processes recruitment and data analysis. Sharing knowledge and discussions about working with candidates is her passion, which is why she eagerly creates new training programs, conducts postgraduate classes, organizes workshops with students of Krakow universities, employees of her company and free students from various social organizations. Passionate about computer games and socioeconomic issues.