There are two kinds of documents that you should learn to draft as a job seeker or student: your resume and your CV. While these serve similar purposes, there are some critical differences between the two that you should understand, ensuring you choose the most appropriate option for the job application.
What are Resumes and CVs?
Resumes and CVs both catalog information about the worker or student, providing a written summary for assessment by a hiring manager or dean of admissions. They differ by field or industry in length, information density, and emphasis.
Features of a Resume
The resume in the United States summarizes the job seeker’s career history, skills, and qualifications relevant to the job they’re applying for. When you submit a job application, you will, under most circumstances, submit a resume.
You’ll often customize your resume according to the company and specific job description, emphasizing your strengths. A resume should typically be limited to one or two pages, depending on your experience, and it’s often necessary to optimize the text to include keywords relevant to ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software.
It’s also common to list hard and soft skills separately. Hard skills are measurable in some way — e.g., accounting, inventory management — deriving from schooling, training, or experience. Soft skills are often interpersonal skills that are more difficult to define and quantify, such as communication.
If you’re unsure about your resume’s format, there are various resume templates to choose from online.
In summary, resumes are:
- Intended for job seekers
- Short; one or two pages in length, depending on experience
- Designed to summarize professional experience and skills in a workplace setting
- Specific to the job
Features of a CV
Curriculum vitae, or CV, is Latin for “course for life.” While the term “CV” is often used interchangeably with “resume,” the two can differ significantly, depending on the environment. For example, in an academic setting, the CV can be long, potentially spanning dozens of pages to document your academic qualifications and achievements fully in an educational environment.
If you’ve had books, journal articles, or scientific papers published with a byline, your CV will include a complete publication history. When applying to a college or university, the academic CV tends to prioritize the applicant’s educational background — your professional experience is less critical, appearing later in the document. As with your resume, there are CV templates available for modification, so you don’t have to create one from scratch.
In summary, CVs are:
- Intended for college/university applicants, academic and research positions, etc.
- Potentially long, comprehensively documenting your academic qualifications and achievements
- Based on credentials, not necessarily skills
- Non-specific to a certain position
The formatting for professional experience and qualifications places your information in chronological order, with your most recent achievements or positions listed at the top. Both documents will include your contact information and brief descriptions of work responsibilities, often bulleted for the reader’s convenience.
Whether you’re writing a resume or a CV, how you present information will also demonstrate your ability to organize data. Either document should be relatively easy to read, but a resume needs to be concise.
Proofread your resume or CV carefully. Errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation in these documents may be an immediate disqualifier, depending on the type of job. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a writer or editor, you can’t afford to let typos go unnoticed.
Whether you need a resume, a CV, or both for your intended job, preparing a cover letter is standard practice. In contrast to a resume or CV, a cover letter introduces you to a prospective employer or dean, explaining why you’re interested in working for the company or studying at the university.
You should keep the cover letter concise — one or two pages is usually sufficient — and use it as an opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the job or school. The cover letter also allows you to show that you’ve researched the position.
If you need help writing or formatting your resume or CV or writing a cover letter, JobsFuel has several resources to guide you through the drafting process, ensuring your application stands out every time. Check out our blog to see the latest tips for improving your job search and finding the most suitable job match for your skills and experience.