CVs and Resumes Compared

  | James Innes

Although a CV essentially serves the same purpose as a resume, there are significant differences between the two documents. In general, if you are applying for employment in the United States, the resume format is preferred, whereas the CV is the document of choice in the UK. Indeed, the CV is also the preferred format in many overseas destinations, so the majority of job hunters seeking employment internationally tend to have both a CV and a resume prepared. However, in some circumstances an employer in the US will specifically ask for a CV to be submitted rather than a resume so you should always be sure to check the requirements before submitting your application. This is often the case when academic achievements or research experience form essential criteria of the vacancy applied for.

One of the principal differences between a CV and a resume is the length of each document - with a CV tending to be longer and much more comprehensive, while the resume is briefer and more concise. Ideally, a CV should not exceed two pages, although it is accepted that certain people require a longer CV when they have had a particularly extensive career history, or when they have to include a list of their published research, etc. On the other hand, a resume preferably only covers a single page.

CVs, Resumes and Detail
As a CV is a more detailed document than a resume, all the information should be presented in reverse chronological order so that the most recent, and often most relevant, information is presented first. Most CVs begin with a professional profile summarising an individual's key skills and personal traits. Where possible, and if space allows, a section outlining your objectives can be included and should ideally highlight the specific title of the job you wish to apply for.

Skills & Qualifications
The next section in the CV would normally cover education and qualifications, although this section can be moved to further down the CV if the information contained here is not particularly important. The education section generally summarises lower level qualifications while elaborating further on higher qualifications, e.g. graduate and post-graduate. Where appropriate, IT proficiency and any languages spoken should follow with any major achievements being included thereafter.

Career Summary / Work Experience
The career summary or work experience section is invariably the most detailed part of the CV, with each position undertaken being listed in reverse chronological order, and a description of key duties, responsibilities and achievements included for each. Ideally, your most recent positions should carry more detailed job descriptions, and it is often the case that positions held ten or more years ago will have just one or two bullet points of information or, indeed, no description at all. This ensures that the most relevant information is given priority in the CV.

Other information in CVs
The CV should finish with a summary of personal details and a list of any hobbies or interests. If the CV is to be used for overseas applications, it is also important to highlight your Visa status.

Other types of CV / Curriculum Vitae
When a CV or Curriculum Vitae is specifically requested for an application in the US market, rather than a resume, it is generally expected to be a much more comprehensive document, even than the typical UK format. It is not unusual for such documents to be as long as 10 or even 20 pages and they are generally requested for academic or scientific based roles. CVs for emigration purposes are normally much more detailed as well; the career summary alone can take up as many as six pages.

As previously mentioned, the resume is a far more concise document than a CV and the professional profile and objective sections that were important on the CV are often omitted completely. The education section tends to be the same as that of the CV but the rest of the document is very different. A resume focuses more on specific skills and capabilities, rather than the full details of job roles undertaken. As a result, the career summary is generally a simple list of job titles with key skills, achievements and capabilities included in a separate section.

It is important to keep the resume as concise as possible and certainly to keep it within the ideal one page format. There is no room for unnecessary detail - interests and activities outside of work are not relevant - and every effort should be made to target specific roles or markets.

Finally, American English should of course be used throughout the document and telephone numbers must include international dialling codes.

Professional Preparation
At the end of the day, this is definitely the most sensible option; there really is no substitute for taking advantage of in-depth professional experience. Order today!

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