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

When it comes to applying for jobs, a lot of terms are thrown around like ‘resume,’ ‘CV,’ and ‘cover letter.’ A cover letter is pretty straightforward. It’s basically a concise letter introducing yourself to the employer and stating your qualifications for the desired job. The lines separating a resume and a CV can be a little more blurry. Chances are you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a CV, especially if you’ve recently graduated from a college or university in America. This could lead you to wonder: What’s the difference between a resume and a CV?

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

A CV – Explained

A Curriculum Vitae, or CV for short, is Latin for “courses of life.” It’s basically an in depth look at your education and entire work history, with emphasis on special accomplishments. These can include awards, acknowledgements, achievements, and/or publications. If you were ever given special recognition while in school or at your previous job, you put it in your CV.

For this reason, CV’s can end up being multiple pages in length. Obviously, if you’ve just graduated, your CV won’t be that long. However, people who’ve been in their field for years often have lengthy CVs.

The key is in the detail. Your prospective employer is looking to see not only where you’ve been, but also what you’ve done, and how you’ve distinguished yourself.

A Resume – Explained

If a CV is the novel of everything you’ve accomplished in college and after, then a resume is the synopsis on the back cover. It’s the greatest hits list. Everything on your resume is there solely to serve the purpose of giving a prospective employer a brief idea of who you are.

A resume is not the place for extended detail. They’re generally only a page in length. You list your name, your contact info, where you went to school, and only relevant work history with a few bullets listing relevant experience. Save special accomplishments or distinctions for your cover letter, the interview, or the end of your resume – if there’s room.

Why so brief? Well, according to a study done by TheLadders, the average job recruiter spends just six seconds scanning a resume. Six seconds. That’s all the time you have to make yourself stand out.

It may seem hard at first, but their brief nature actually make resumes highly customizable based on the job to which you’re applying. For instance, say you’re looking to change careers. You can often find skills from your old job that you can utilize in your new field. Highlight those skills in your resume, and you can make yourself more attractive to prospective employers – even if the two jobs are completely unrelated!

So, What’s the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?

In essence, the difference between a resume and a CV comes down to length and format. A CV is long and detailed. It lists your entire school and work history, in chronological order, and expands upon noteworthy accolades. On the other hand, a resume is a brief snippet giving the basics of your life: your name, the name of your school, where you worked and what you did.

A CV lists your entire work history, with skills gained and used, so it rarely changes. If anything, you only ever add to it. A resume, on the other hand, should be tailored for each individual job application. It should contain only relevant work experience, with irrelevant experience omitted entirely. So, if you’re applying for a job in IT consulting, you need not put your summer as a cashier at Zumiez on your resume. However, maybe while you were there you were recognized for increasing your store’s sales to be the highest in the region. That would go on your CV.

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

How Can You Know Which to Use?

Most jobs in the US and Canada require a resume and cover letter unless you’re applying for a position in the field of academia. If you’re applying abroad, especially in the UK or Europe, then a CV is most common. Other countries, like Australia, will accept either.

Generally, the employer will specify in the job listing how they wish job seekers to apply. If you’re unsure about which to use, simply ask! Most hiring managers or job recruiters will reply with the employer’s expectation.

Even if the jobs you’re applying for only require resumes, it’s not a bad idea to have a CV ready, just in case. You never know when you may need it. If nothing else, you can use it as a master list of all your work experience in order to make tailoring your resume that much easier.

If you’re having trouble in your job search, Micro-Data Systems has decades of experience in today’s highly skilled, technology-based fields. We provide staffing solutions for a variety of career fields. To find out more, feel free to reach out to us today!

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