CV vs. Resume

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It’s a common mistake that a fresh grad could be forgiven to make. But if you’ve been in the workforce for some time now, you’d be expected to know that a CV does not equal a resume.

Typically, when you go through numerous job ads, you’d notice that they call for either a CV or a resume with a cover letter. Now, I think we can all agree what a cover letter is but when it comes to CV/resume there’s a common misconception on the part of job seekers (sometimes on employers, too) that the two are interchangeable. That is not the case. Imagine the bad impression you’ll give when the job ad called for a CV and you just submitted a resume.

Here are a few pointers to let you know what to do the next time you encounter a request for CV or resume:

Number of pages

The most basic difference between the two would be in terms of length. A curriculum vitae, which literally means “course of life”, is considerably longer as it is expected to contain exhaustive information about your whole academic and career history.

A resume is usually just two pages at most because you’re not expected to include everything in there — just the summary of your credentials, qualifications and personal information. It has to be concise but at the same time, contain all the data related to the position you’re applying for.

They both serve the same purpose, right?

Basically, a resume’s goal is to make a potential employer shortlist you for an interview. Since that’s the case, you can customize your resume depending on the job ad. It’s a common practice for job seekers to put more emphasis on their skills or qualifications that are more relevant to the job description in order to get the attention of the employer.

A CV, on the other hand, is something that’s usually used in the academe so it’s a common practice to include every accomplishment or credential that you have in order to appear impressive. It aims to present you as a reliable and experienced individual in whatever fields you are involved in. And because in a CV you just continue to add to it as you get more experience and accomplishments, it is a document that basically has no limit on the number of pages.

What’s inside counts

A resume contains basic information about the applicant as well as the educational background, work history, relevant accomplishments and qualifications.

Meanwhile, a CV is supposed to be a very detailed and comprehensive document about your accomplishments–in work and in life. While a resume focuses on your work experiences, a CV also takes into account your accomplishments while in the university. Any academic paper that you did while studying should be included. If you have published books or articles, given presentations or served as a resource speaker, received honors, research grants and scholarships, those count as well.

Your professional background and experiences, especially those related to teaching, field work or volunteering must be included, too. If you have affiliations to any group or organization (especially if you’ve held an office there), that’s a big plus!

In Summary:

CV – long, covers your entire career, static
Resume – short, no particular format rule, highly customizable

So what do you use?!

Nowadays, a resume is the preferred application document in the Philippines, US and Canada. A CV is usually used only when applying for a job abroad or if searching for an academic or research oriented position.

In Europe, a CV is used in all contexts and resumes aren’t used at all. There is even a European Union CV format available for download.

In Australia, India and South Africa, the terms resume and CV are used interchangeably. The term resume is used more for jobs in the private sector and CV is more commonplace when applying for public service positions.

Which do you prefer, the CV, the resume, both, none? Please share your experience in the comments below!


Geeky Kat is a professional resume writer who can make your resume stand out! See here for more info.



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