Applying for that first job might be intimidating for people entering the world of professionals. A question that often pops up in the minds of job seekers is whether to go with a CV or a Resume.

Today, we will take a look at the differences between CV and Resume and help you decide which one to use in which situation. Although both the documents play different roles in different industries, it is very important to understand the nuances between the two.

What is a Resume?

A resume, or résumé, is a concise document typically not longer than one page as the intended the reader will not dwell on your document for very long. The goal of a resume is to make an individual stand out from the competition.

The job seeker should adapt the resume to every position they apply for. It is in the applicant’s interest to change the resume from one job application to another and to tailor it to the needs of the specific post. A resume doesn’t have to be ordered chronologically, doesn’t have to cover your whole career like and is a highly customisable document.

Resume comes from the French word, resume, meaning to sum up. This is usually crisp and focuses on your skills.

Resume is job oriented and highlights your skills for that particular job. This makes it easy to scan through and get an idea of your skills.

What is a CV?

A CV (Curriculum Vitæ, which means course of life in Latin) is an in-depth document that can be laid out over two or more pages and it contains a high level of detail about your achievements, a great deal more than just a career biography. The CV covers your education as well as any other accomplishments like publications, awards, honours etc.

The document tends to be organised chronologically and should make it easy to get an overview of an individual’s full working career. A CV is static and doesn’t change for different positions, the difference would be in the cover letter.

CV comes from the Latin phrase, curriculum vitae meaning the course of life.

CV represents a detailed chronological overview that lists out your career.

Let us look at some factors that you can use to differentiate between these two.

Differences between CV and resume at a glance

At first glance, it might appear that CV and resume are almost the same but the devil is in the details.

A CV has a clear chronological order listing the whole career of the individual whereas a resume’s information can be shuffled around to best suit the applicant. I would say the main difference between a resume and a CV is that a CV is intended to be a full record of your career history and a resume is a brief, targeted list of skills and achievements.As stated, three major differences between CVs and resumes are the length, the purpose and the layout. A resume is a brief summary of your skills and experience over one or two pages, a CV is more detailed and can stretch well beyond two pages. The resume will be tailored to each position whereas the CV will stay put and any changes will be in the cover letter.

Let’s revise:

CV – long, covers your entire career, static
Resume – short, no particular format rule, highly customisable

1. Difference in Format

Resumes are short & crisp

  • A resume is a precise description of your career that can be covered in under 2 pages.
  • It is always concise and talks only the specifics as necessary. It is about your work experience and showcases your proficiency.
  • Once the recruiter goes through it, the recruiter knows what you bring to the table in terms of employable skills.

CV’s are much longer

  • A CV is prepared with details that can go beyond 2-3 pages.

2. Difference in content

A Resume talks about skills

  • Resume provides you the flexibility to present only the most important skills, in the best light.
  • Resume allows you to show the skills a recruiter is looking for and not bog them down with unnecessary chitter chatter.

CV talks about entire educational and professional career

  • CV consists information about your educational background including achievements, projects, research papers and publications.
  • CV also covers any recognition & awards you received throughout your career.

3. Difference in the order of events

A CV follows chronological order

  • When designing a CV, you list out all your achievements, in chronological order, i.e. stating them in the order they happened.
  • This helps the recruiter understand your growth as a professional. They can easily understand who you are as a person and if you would be a good fit for the role.

A Resume can follow any of these three formats

  • Chronological: The details are listed out in sequence as they happened.
  • Functional: The skills required for the job specification are highlighted at the top.
  • Combinational: Skills with highest proficiency are followed by a combination of the above two formats.

Now that the basic differences are clear, let us look at what data to put in both of them. The differences can be tricky to understand, after all, they share a lot of similarities at their core.

Since organisations can ask for any of these documents depending on the position/job role they have the opening for, let’s take a couple of examples to understand more.

When should you use a CV?

An example of good usage of the CV is in the academic industry, as it gives an exhaustive insight into where you currently stand in your career. This can help the academic institute make an assessment of your management skills, subject knowledge and your people skills can be suitable for a role as an educator & administrator, making you a suitable candidate for many roles.

When should you use a Resume?

In contrast, when applying for a job in tech/IT/software development, a resume can be your best friend. An IT recruiter has to go through numerous candidates for even a single position. A well-made resume will put your best skills at the top of the resume, to attract the recruiters.

Still not sure which one to go with?

If you are still not sure which one to go with, have a look at the job profile & answer these questions.

  • Does the job ask for a specialised skill?
  • Does the job require multiple skills? Or is it focused on a few special skills?
  • Is the job role in a management position? Most management positions require a CV.

If the document is not mentioned in the job description, one solution is to contact the recruiter for more information on the required document. If that is not possible, go with the resume.

Resume is a safer bet!

If you are still not sure which one to go with, resume is a better bet as it showcases your skills in the best light. Also, because of its crisp nature, it is easier for the recruiter to go through it. A CV makes for a much longer document, which can put off some recruiters. So better to err on the side of caution and go with a resume just to be safe.

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