This is the very common situation where people discuss something about career related topic and the terms resume and curriculum vitae come up. You just nod along but inside your mind rises the question, ‘Oh! Are these terms different?’
Don’t worry; you are not the only one facing this situation. Many people have problem understanding the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae aka CV.
So, let’s take a look at what is the difference between resume and CV and which how to choose between them?
What is Curriculum Vitae
In most simple words, a curriculum vitae or CV is a description of everything that you’ve studied, achieved and published so far.
Information is ordered chronologically in a CV. You need to mention your education, your awards, papers, honours, and anything that might be relevant to your career in reverse order of their occurrence.
Curriculum Vitae literally means course of life. Thus, you need to specify everything that you’ve lived in your CV. But the content is strictly limited to one’s career information only. This is not a place to mention the number of fish you caught last vacation or the rowing contest that you won unless you are applying for marine services or fishing industry.
Because of all the information in the CV, its length is generally long. It may be of three to twelve pages depending on one’s achievements and the information that needs to be included.
Fields that demand CV
Generally, we see the use of curriculum vitae in academia, medicine, doctorate applications and anything that is research related.
These are the fields where people have done lots of research, have written papers many of which are published and there are many achievements to list too. And these are the fields where what you’ve worked so far affects the decision of your success or selection for a certain position.
So, always remember if you are working in academics, medicine or research or are applying for PhD. or some grant, then you will need to present your CV no matter where in the world you are.
One CV for all applications
A CV contains all the academic and career information of an individual. And this information is organised chronologically which makes looking up a particular detail easy.
And, since the CV contains everything that a candidate has to offer, it need not be changed for every application that you send.
Yes, a CV is static. You use the same CV for all your applications. It will change only when you publish a new paper or achieve an award or a degree. In that case, you’ll need to include that in the CV too. The cover letter that accompanies the CV is what changes. Based on the position you are applying for, make changes to the cover letter.
What is Resume
A resume is a document where you specify an overview of your qualifications, achievements and work experience.
However, this information is tailored according to the position you are applying for. Based on the job requirements, you need to sort out your accomplishments and achievements and list them.
A resume may also contain a goal or career objective that shows the ambition of the candidate or what he intends to achieve in future.
Thus, the length of CV generally is limited to about two pages. You just provide the overview of your career and highlight only those things in detail which are going to be helpful for the job that you are applying.
Fields that demand CV
Apart from the fields discussed above where you need a CV, a resume is generally fine. Of course there are exceptions based on the country you live or if specifically mentioned. In other cases, a resume is a preferred mode of document as a part of job application.
The ever changing Resume
A resume is generally written keeping the job requirements in mind.
As a result, you may need to change the details of the resume as per the requirements. You need to highlight those achievements and qualifications that match the job requirements.
Thus, a resume keeps changing based on your job application.
CV and Resume around the globe
We discussed the usage of resume and CV based on the field of work.
However, there are certain countries where only CVs are prevalent.
Countries like UK, Ireland, New Zealand and some African countries accept nothing other than CV.
So, no matter which industry you work in, if you are in UK or New Zealand, you would have to present a CV only.
Similarly, a resume is more preferable in US. Except for academic, medical or scientific positions, resume is generally used.
In Australia and most of the Asian countries, the terms resume and CV are used interchangeably. People generally use resume to apply and even use the term CV for it.
So, if you are applying internationally, make sure to learn about which document is acceptable there and make your choice accordingly.
CV and Resume writing tips
First of all, collect all the background information right from your academic qualifications to your career achievements and work experience till now.
Now, categorise this information and order it chronologically starting with your most recent achievement or experience and then moving backwards.
Now, keep the following points in mind when writing a resume or CV.
- Make sure to match your details in resume or CV with the job requirements.
Your CV and resume should exhibit your qualifications that would enhance your chance at getting the job.
- A resume is no longer than two pages. A CV can be as long as 10 to 12 pages depending on a person’s experience and achievements.
- Make sure that there are no grammatical mistakes. Be sure to check the resume or CV twice before submitting it.
- Use standard and uniform format throughout the document.
For example the date format should remain same throughout the document. If you are applying abroad, then the format used in that country should be considered.
Similarly, if you have used bullet points or numbering, use the same throughout the document.
- Organise your data properly. A resume or CV should be clear and easily readable. When looking up a detail, one should be able to find it correctly.
- If you have problems formatting and structuring the document properly, use ready-made templates available. In Europe, a CV and its structure are so important that a European Union CV Format has been designed to maintain uniformity and help people in creating a well structured CV.
- Use proper format for your resume. A CV is almost always written in chronological format. However, a resume can be written in any of the three formats, functional, chronological or combination.
- A chronological format can be used when you have a progress to show during your career. When you’ve risen to a higher level with your dedication and hard work, you need to show each step of your success.
- A functional resume format comes handy when you’ve been stagnant at a job with no promotions.
Or when you’re entirely changing your area of work and your previous experience no longer applies to your current working position. In that case, there is no point in mentioning experience that is of no use. Instead you can describe the qualities and skills that you have. These can be anything like leadership, communication skills, some software or anything that you think can be helpful for the current job.
- A combination resume contains the advantages of both formats. Here, you can show your career progress. And along with it, you can also describe the skills that you have.
- Be careful about minor details like font size and type, indentation, proper grammar usage and uniformity
So, take care of above points while writing your resume and CV and you are bound to create a great piece of work.
Difference between CV and resume
Here, I list all the differences between a resume and a CV to clear away all your confusions.
A resume is generally an overview of your qualifications, achievements and honours while a CV contains all the information described properly in chronological order.
- A resume is typically one or two page long while a CV can go as long as ten to twelve pages. A person having more experience will definitely have a longer CV.
- CVs are preferred and only document accepted in UK and some other European countries. While resume is the most preferred form of document in US. Asian countries like India, China and Australian countries use the term resume and CV interchangeably.
- CVs are preferred for people in the fields of academics, medicine, scientific research etc. While resumes are preferred for other industries like IT, hospitality, management etc.
- CVs are mostly static documents. They don’t change much. While a resume changes as per job application. A candidate generally changes the details of a resume as per the skills and keywords used in the job description. A CV does not change for multiple job applications. The only thing that changes is the cover letter that accompanies the CV. You can change as per the application needs.
- While a chronological format is preferred for writing CVs, a resume can have chronological, functional or hybrid format.
So, these are the subtle differences between a resume and curriculum vitae. Depending on which field or which country you are in, you can choose any one of them.
Also, it is preferred that a person has a CV even if he doesn’t require one for now.
As discussed, a CV contains all the details of a person’s qualifications, achievements, awards, honours and publications.
Moreover, the information is structured chronologically. You can use it to create your resume. You have all the information that you need. All you have to do is to sort out the relevant information and use it in your resume.
This way building different resumes as per job requirements will become easy. You also don’t risk of missing or forgetting something.
So, whether a CV is asked or not, do prepare one. It will help you in preparing resumes.
Think out of the box
Having said all the details, I would like to add a last few points that may help your resume to attract immediate attention.
Apart from the academic qualifications, do not forget to mention some other skills that you’ve acquired in your career. These skills, though not mentioned specifically are expected from every candidate. These are social skills. Skills like team spirit, a social cause or commitment do count and it will benefit your employer too.
If you are not good at organising your stuff, then use templates that will make it possible to prepare a well formed resume and CV. Just remember, you do not want to lose your points for a misplaced comma or dangling paragraphs.
And the last best thing that will make your resume shine out is the glory of your work. So, pull up your sleeves and get going.
So, I think that’s enough information about resume and CV.
You now have the knowledge to distinguish one from other and also to choose between the two.
The right choice will enhance future opportunities.
And remember, if you are still confused as to what will be suitable for a given job position; rather than providing wrong document and getting yourself eliminated, ask specifically what is expected.
And whether you choose a resume or a CV, follow the tips discussed above to create a document that will provide all the necessary information.
Also, keep the information relevant. Do not go on bragging about a skill or award that has nothing to do with the current job position.
So, go on and brighten up your chances at the next job or grant or PhD admission by making proper selection between a resume and a CV and then creating it wonderfully.