Searching for a job is a time-consuming process. It requires hours of research, reviewing job postings, and filling out seemingly endless applications. If you're new to the job-hunting world, the experience can be daunting. One of the first things you're likely to think about is your resume. Here's another thing to consider: Do you need a resume or a CV?
What's the difference between a CV and resume, and when should you use one versus the other? We'll illustrate how to write a CV and resume, when each is appropriate, and how to use them to their fullest potential.
The resume: defined
Your resume is a concise document that summarizes your career history. There are a variety of resume formats to choose from. Select one that best suits your experience and skills. The most common resume format (chronological) lists your most recent experience first, followed by relevant previous positions. When applicable, it's always useful to include:
- Information about any organizations or associations to which you belong
- Internship and volunteer experience, especially if you have limited career experience
Tailor your resume specifically for each position to which you're applying. The resume length for most recent graduates and young professionals shouldn't exceed one page. If you have a decade of work experience or more, two pages are acceptable. Whichever format you choose, be as concise as possible. Remember, the goal here is to entice the employer to see your potential without overwhelming or distracting them.
A standard resume should include:
- Full name and contact information
- Summary statement explicitly tailored to the position)
- Work experience or work history
- Relevant hobbies or interests
A couple of important notes to keep in mind (this applies to both the CV and resume):
- Due to identity theft concerns, it is no longer recommended that you include your mailing address.
- The words and phrasing you use should align with the job description. Many companies now use automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan resumes for specific keywords. Aim to use the exact same language that companies use when describing a job's top skills and requirements in an advertisement.
The CV: defined
Think of the CV and resume as cousins. A Curriculum Vitae is Latin for "the course of your life." The CV resume format is usually much longer than a standard resume and is generally utilized by established professionals. A CV lists information chronologically, typically beginning with your education. The CV is a complete, all-encompassing snapshot of your life experiences and education.
Here's what to include on your CV:
- Full name and contact information
- Personal statement
- Professional title and degree
- Teaching experience
Comparing and contrasting the CV and resume
Now that you know what to include in a CV vs. a resume, let's clarify the key differences between the two documents:
- Know the long and short of it
A resume should be a synopsis, rather than a complete catalog of your professional life. Always keep your resume as concise as possible. Brevity allows the employer to see a summary of your experiences.
On the other hand, a CV may extend to several pages, especially for those who have had a lengthy career. Your CV will grow as your career develops. While a CV could potentially increase to five pages in length, your resume shouldn't exceed one or two pages.
- Understand the terminology
The term CV is used around the world; however, in certain geographic regions, it's synonymous with a resume. In the United States, CV refers to a distinct document. Be sure you understand precisely what a company or organization is asking for when applying for a role, primarily if the position is located in a different country. When in doubt, send the hiring manager a quick note to verify the specifics. Sending the wrong document could immediately knock you out of the running, even if you're the most qualified for the position.
- Consider your career path
You'll often see the CV resume format in the academic world, especially in master's and doctorate programs. However, a traditional resume is the most commonly used document in both undergrad and graduate instances. Explore resume examples by industry for inspiration. Your academic counselor will be able to guide you to the resume format that's most appropriate to your field of study.
- Express your creativity
Unlike a resume, a CV resume format is more stringent and straightforward. CVs don't need to be customized for different positions the way resumes should be. Though your resume should look and sound professional, choose a resume template that expresses your style and best highlights your most valuable skills.
Depending on your industry, you may need to create both a CV and resume. Think of your CV as a mini autobiography of your life thus far, and your resume as the highlight reel. When you're ready to put together that highlight reel, our Resume Builder will help you every step of the way. And if you need a CV, we have a builder for that, too.