The Difference Between a CV and a Resume

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Job seekers often find that employers are seeking one of two documents to accompany an application: a resume or a curriculum vitae (CV). The difference between the two is subtle, but important. You want to make sure you get off to the best possible start with a potential employer, and that means giving them exactly what they want in terms of your application.

The term curriculum vitae is a Latin phrase meaning “course of life.” As the name implies, a CV tends to be pretty exhaustive. The CV should be a list of your accomplishments that can go on for as long as it needs to be in order to cover everything. When writing a CV, you should include your academic and educational background, any publications you have to your credit, and any awards you have received. You should cover your entire career history, as well, and provide plenty of detail about your accomplishments. A CV should be organized chronologically, and it does not need to be changed for individual employers. Since it covers everything, it should always contain what an employer is looking for, as well as information they’re likely to skim.

On the other hand, a resume is a much shorter and more focused summary of your professional accomplishments. Resumes are designed to provide a brief overview of you as a job applicant, and they should focus on information that is relevant to a given position. Resumes, which don’t always follow a chronological order, should be changed based on the requirements of a job. For instance, you can highlight the experience that makes you a stronger candidate than your competition. Resumes should be short and snappy, and they should aim at piquing an employer’s interest and landing you an interview.

Moreover, resumes and CV requirements may vary depending on the job. In the United States, CVs are typically only used when applying for academic positions with government, nonprofit, and business employers who prefer to receive resumes. In the United Kingdom and New Zealand, resumes are rarely used, and CVs are preferred in all contexts. In Australia and India, employers may use the terms interchangeably. Be sure to check the listings for a position carefully before applying so that you use the right format.

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