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CV or resume?

CV or resume?

Do I need to create a CV or a resume? Aren't they the same thing?

Resume or CV?

Speaking strictly, a resume is not a CV. In many parts of the world these terms are used interchangeably, whereas in others like the United States, the terms have specific meanings; you wouldn't normally send your CV to apply for a job in the US!

Knowing how CVs and resume differ will allow you to speak the same language and recruiters and hiring managers and make sure you use the right document for each situation.

What is a CV?

The term 'CV' is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae, a Latin phrase meaning 'course of life' and is an extensive account of your entire career.

If you work in academia, medicine, law or other specialised occupations, then you're probably already familiar with the CV. In these and some other fields, a CV is the correct document to prepare and submit when seeking a promotion or when interviewing with a potential new employer.

The length of a CV is dictated by the extent of your career. If you are a senior academic with an extensive publication history, then your CV may run to more than 20 pages.

A CV will include detailed accounts of tertiary education (subjects and specialisations listed in detail), academic publications, technical articles, positions held with detailed lists of activities and so on. Gaps in employment, such as for study sabbatical, are detailed to give the reader a full understanding of your course of life since college.

In some countries like Australia and India, the term 'CV' is used interchangeably with the term 'resume', and is taken to mean the same thing.

In other countries including the United States, the term 'resume' has a specific meaning.

What is a resume?

Your resume is a type of personal marketing document that aims to promote your most marketable and relevant skills to a specific employer, for a specific role. Your resume should contain only those achievements, skills, abilities and experience that relate to the role you are applying for.

There a three basic types or styles of resume (click on the link to learn more):

  1. The chronological resume
  2. The functional resume
  3. The combination resume

While each style of resume contains roughly the same information, these three styles differ in how they present information about your employment history and skills.

The chronological resume presents this information in order starting with your most recent position and working backwards to your earliest position of employment. This is a good way to show career progression, as well as factors like stable and loyal employment and other positive traits.

The functional and combination resume styles present skills and experience grouped according to particular skills 'clusters', and are often used when changing career to help build a case for employment.

Resumes are typically between 1 and 4 pages in length, with an average length of 2 pages.

The single objective of your resume is to secure you an interview for your target role. It must get you through the screening process; the stage in which a recruiter or hiring manager attempts to reduce the entire volume of job applications (often hundreds) to a more manageable number for interviews.

Choose the right layout

Choosing the right layout or style to match your goal is an important decision.

The wrong layout can draw attention to areas that may be regarded by a hiring manager as weaknesses, whether valid or not, such as:

  • Gaps in your employment history, signalling extended periods of unemployment
  • Frequent job hopping, implying that you may quickly leave the position, once hired
  • Irrelevant qualifications which do not 'fit the profile'
  • Unrelated employment history, signalling that you do not possess the right competencies for the job

While you cannot change the facts of your career history, you can present them in a multitude of ways that serve to emphasise, downplay or otherwise influence their interpretation.

To learn which resume style is right for you, click to read the WorkLifeGroup chronological resume guide and the functional and combination resume guide.

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