Have you ever wondered why Europeans apply for a job with a CV and Americans use a résumé? You probably thought it was just a play on words, that they’re both the same thing, right?
I get it: differentiating between a CV and résumé can be confusing. But that’s why we’re here!
In this article, we’ll show you the main differences between a CV and résumé, explain when each should be used and even give you a couple of samples to get a better idea on how to write each.
But, first, let’s start with the basics…
What Is a CV?
A CV, or curriculum vitae, is an in-depth document that typically spans across two or more pages (depending on your experience) and contains a high level of detail about your work experience, education, skills and achievements.
When Should You Use a CV?
In the USA, CVs are generally used by academics, scientists, medical experts and other specialist professionals. They are highly detailed and usually run over four (or more) pages, covering personal achievements, awards, publications, honours, affiliations and memberships.
On the other hand, in the UK, Ireland, Europe and New Zealand, CVs are used more broadly by people at any stage of their careers, whether they’re applying for an entry-level position or higher position. CVs are typically one to two pages long and tailored to the specific job you’re applying for, ensuring that your experience and skills matches the requirements outlined in the job description.
What Does a CV Look Like?
Below is an example of a mid-career CV:
What Is a Résumé?
A résumé is similar to a CV, though it's typically shorter (no longer than one page) and is generally used for job applications across North America.
As recruiters only spend six seconds reviewing applications, résumés are intended to help jobseekers stand out from the crowd in just as little amount of time.
Like CVs, résumés should be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for. Unlike CVs, however, they don’t need to be in chronological order or cover your entire career history and educational background.
When Should You Use a Résumé?
Résumés are primarily used in the US and Canada and, to a lesser extent, Australia. That said, if you’re based in the US but applying for a job in England, for example, you would need to write a CV.
What Does a Résumé Look Like?
Here’s a sample of a mid-career résumé:
What are the Key Differences Between a CV and a Résumé?
If you’re still a bit perplexed, let’s go through the main differences between a CV and résumé.
- Length: The most obvious difference is the length of a CV and that of a résumé. A résumé is typically no longer than one page, whereas a CV usually spans across two or more pages, depending on the candidate’s level of experience.
- Layout: Each document is formatted differently. A CV generally follows a chronological order, whereas a résumé is much more concise and laid out in a way that makes your skills pop out.
- Education: A CV will typically provide detailed information about your academic background. A résumé, on the other hand, will usually only list your latest educational achievement. So, if you have a master’s degree, for example, this will be the only thing included here, unless you’re applying for an entry-level job, in which case you can list your entire educational experience.
- Work experience: A résumé will highlight your relevant work experience first and include a brief career summary. A CV, however, will list full details about your duties in previous positions and generally include facts and figures to back up your claims.
- References: Listing your references in a CV is acceptable but not so much in a résumé.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
Whether you choose to write a CV or résumé, here are some general writing tips we’ve compiled to help you stand apart from the competition:
- Tailor it to the job: Make sure you highlight your most valuable skills and experience to the position you’re applying for. If you’re still struggling, consider using a professional writing service.
- Include keywords: Check the job description for keywords and incorporate these into your document – remember: applicant tracking systems are designed to filter out applications that don’t ‘match’ the ad.
- Use a simple layout: CVs and résumés that aren’t easy on the eye typically wind up in the bin, so make sure your document is clearly structured and easy-to-read. You could even use a ready template to help you out.
- Use the right format: For example, if you’re a graphic designer, considering using a skills-based or infographic CV/résumé. Similarly, if you’re a web developer, consider a video application. If you need help, consider using a free CV builder.
- Proofread: Always check and double-check your documents for grammar and spelling mistakes.
And there you have it: everything you need to know about the differences between a CV and a résumé.
Which document do you use for job applications? Leave us a comment below and let us know what works for you…