Resumes and C.V.’s: What’s the Difference?

According to the dictionary, a resume is “a summary, as of one’s employment, education, etc., used in applying for a new position.” Conversely, a curriculum vitae (C.V.) is noted as “a regular or particular course of study of or pertaining to education and life.”

In other words, a RESUME is a career and educational summary meant to highlight your skills and experience and a C.V. is a list mean to document every job and degree you’ve ever received in your life.

When professionals working abroad decide that they want to seek out job opportunities in the U.S. and send out their C.V.s to American companies, they have no idea what Human Resource and Personnel Directors are looking for when reviewing these documents. In a typical C.V., the first category is Education, listing preparatory/college/university information and dates right up front. If the mechanical engineer or CEO sending this document graduated from university in 1974, that is not the most important piece of information that a headhunter or H.R. Director needs to know about this person.

The C.V. continues with Work Experience, often listing jobs going back to college days, and often listing them in chronological order (starting with 1976 for example, and ending with the 1997-Present position somewhere down on page 2 or 3). The C.V. is quite simply a listing of company names, job titles, dates of employment, and job responsibilities. Just the potatoes, without the meat and gravy, so to speak. A professional resume does not require that you include every job you’ve ever held since being a counselor at Camp Thanksalot.

The C.V. is written in a paragraph style, not broken up with bulleted or italicized information to highlight any skills, accomplishments, or achievements for each specific position. Each paragraph lists the responsibilities from a first person perspective “I” and “my” which is just not done in a professional resume. On this side of the Atlantic, a resume is written in the third person so as to appear more objective and factual.

The next faux pas of the C.V. is to include personal information in the document. The applicant lists marital status, nationality, height and weight, date of birth, and other information which is just not necessary or warranted when applying for a job in the U.S. Hobbies and Personal Interests are also often listed on C.V.s. Whether you play acoustic guitar or spin wool for cardigan sweaters, it does not belong on a resume.

A strong, professionally written resume, however, starts out with a brief Summary of Qualifications, next is a key word section listing your Areas of Strength or Industry Expertise, then Professional Experience where your career experience for the past 10-15 years is focused on and any experience prior to that may be summarized. The information listed under Professional Experience is written in reverse chronological order (most recent/present job first and going back from there) and includes a balance of responsibilities and accomplishments for each position.

After the work experience, Professional Affiliations, Computer Skills, and Education sections should appear. The best strong, to the point resumes, should be 1-2 pages long. Oftentimes, C.V.s go on for 3-4 pages.

Keep in mind that resumes are intended to present a summary of highlights to allow the prospective employer to scan through the document visually or electronically and see if your skills match their available positions. A good resume can do that very effectively — a C.V. cannot.

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Comments

As someone who’s worked in recruitment his whole career (and going through about 100CVs daily) I’ve never come across a CV one like described in this article, so please see below for the incorrect claims made on this article: 1. “a C.V. is a list mean to document every job and degree you’ve ever received in your life.” Nope, every CV should be tailored to the job one is applying for, and especially summer jobs and other miscellaneous short term work commitments do not (and should not) need to be included. 2. “In a typical C.V., the first category is Education” Nope, first category is contact details, followed by professional profile (max 2-3 sentences). For experienced professionals, it is adviseable to put work experience first, education after (as work experience in that case is more relevant) 3. “listing them in chronological order (starting with 1976 for example, and ending with the 1997-Present position somewhere down on page 2 or 3)” No. Work experience is listed starting from the most recent one, and going down the list only as far as the roles are relevant. 4. “The C.V. is written in a paragraph style, not broken up with bulleted or italicized information” In general, true, as CV looks into explaining about the job role (responsibilities, achievements, results), rather than just listing the jobs. But one can also include bullet points if preferred. 5. “Each paragraph lists the responsibilities from a first person perspective “I” and “my” which is just not done in a professional resume.” While using first person tense is acceptable, most CVs don’t apply this. 6. “The next faux pas of the C.V. is to include personal information in the document. The applicant lists marital status, nationality, height and weight, date of birth” I have NEVER seen a CV that lists height and weight. Marital status is also very uncommon, and including date of birth is advised against. Nationality is often included as it can give an indication whether a person has a right to work in the country. 7. “Hobbies and Personal Interests are also often listed on C.V.s” Can be included, but if done so, kept very brief as it is irrelevant. Often included only if it can provide a relevancy to the role (e.g. showing leadership skills, organisational skills…) 8. “Oftentimes, C.V.s go on for 3-4 pages” For graduates, CV should not go over 1 page. For experienced professionals, 2-3 pages is fine. Very rare to see 4 page CVs. 9. “scan through the document visually or electronically and see if your skills match their available positions” CVs are amazing for scanning documents electronically (called “CV search”), as candidates provide more in-depth information, including e.g. IT skills, relevant certificates, modules takes etc, which otherwise would not fit on a 1 page resume and excellent candidates might fall out of favor.

I hire a lot in Europe. This article doesn’t describe CV layout accurately so very hard to trust the recommendations.

Special thanks to the person who wrote the Article,and as guidness to writting a Resume or a CV, I find the Articale realy excellent & well constructed.On the other hand, I find some of the other comments made valid . Nevertheless, realy there’s no Idle Body / Structure for writing a perfect Resume or CV.However, can you write up a compination of both & what would that be called? Rgds, K.Al-Ghunaim Saudi Arabia