Resume vs. CV

What’s the difference?

In some circles, “resume” and “CV” are interchangeable in describing a document that outlines your professional credentials, however in today’s market there is a major difference between the two: a resume is a concise document with a particular marketing strategy, whereas a CV is a highly detailed outline of a person’s qualifications in one specific format.

A CV is traditionally used within the academic field and almost always begins with the education section, followed by a basic experience history, teaching appointments, publications and presentations, professional memberships, and honors and awards. A resume may contain the details a CV has, but a CV will not necessarily employ the key elements of a resume. Here are some of the differences between a resume and a CV:

  • As covered in earlier posts, there are three main strategies (chronological, functional, hybrid) a resume could employ based on the job seeker’s current objective and which areas of their experience they wish to highlight. A CV, on the other hand, uses the same format regardless of the individual’s objective or career history.
  • It is advised that a resume be no longer than 2 pages, whereas a CV could be as long as 15+ pages depending on how much information there is to cover.
  • Leading your resume off with your education would be effective on a resume only if you are a recent graduate. Starting with the education on a CV is standard practice.
  • A CV contains a complete list of publications and presentations. A resume may truncate this list to the most recent and provide the remainder in a supplemental addendum document.
  • A resume takes a marketing approach to effectively sell the job seeker to potential employers. CVs tend to be more focused on “just the facts” and may not necessarily highlight specific achievements.

If you’re transforming your CV into a resume, take the information you already have compiled and condense it to the most recent (within 10 or 15 years) and the most exciting (quantifiable achievements and unique qualifications). Create a summary section with powerful language that generates interest in the reader and clearly shows the value you have to offer their company. Include a core competencies section and present your career history in a succinct way with an emphasis on results. While you won’t be completely reinventing the wheel, there are distinct differences between a resume and a CV that need to considered, and of course pay close attention to which format the hiring manager is asking for.


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