The Distinctions That All Job-Seekers Should Know About a CV and a Resume
10 January 20225 min read
Wisedoc Expert team

Many job seekers are frequently caught up in determining the difference between a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a résumé and deciding which one to use when applying for various job opportunities.

When applying for a job, it is understandable to have concerns regarding which of the two should be used. Some job postings may state unequivocally that you must send a CV, but others may request a resume. Others may request a CV when a résumé is needed, and vice versa. It is therefore your responsibility to comprehend the distinction between the two and when to use each so that you do not squander your chances by submitting the incorrect one.

Most job candidates and some employers use the terms "CV" and "résumé" interchangeably, believing that they are interchangeable. If you're one of them, know that you're not alone; many of us had similar obstacles and learned the hard way. Therefore, we want to make it easy for you by assisting you in understanding the meanings and contrasts between the two so that you don't waste your opportunities by using one over the other, as many of us did.

We’re Going to Cover:
  1. Emphasis on the Meanings and Contrasts Between CVs and Résumés
  2. When to Use a CV or a Résumé When Applying for Your Dream Job
  3. Key Takeaways
What Is a CV?

A Curriculum Vitae, or CV, is a Latin term that means "course of life."

It is, as the name implies, a thorough record of information about your academic qualifications, such as degrees, diplomas, certificates, awards, presentations at conferences (posters and papers), publications, and other academic achievements.

The length of a CV varies based on the individual's qualifications. If you have considerable qualifications, your CV maybe 5 to 15 pages long. This will comprise your whole academic and professional credentials background. While the length of a CV varies depending on your years of experience, it is always best to keep it short and to the point.

Make sure your CV includes the following sections:

Name and Contact Information: Include your full name, residential address, email address, phone number, and, most likely, LinkedIn account, (ensure it is adequately updated).

Education: Include a list of all degrees, certifications, and certificates you have received, as well as those you are working on. Also provide the institutions where you achieved or are seeking the degrees, diplomas, and certificates, as well as the length of time spent studying. You could also include the title or summary of your thesis or dissertation, as well as the names of your thesis or dissertation supervisors.

Experience: Describe all your life experience, including teaching and research experience, as well as any other experience that will be relevant to the reason for which you're building the CV.

Accomplishments: Include a list of all grants, honors, and awards you've received for your teaching, research, or other activities.

Publications: Include a list of all the publications you've written.

Presentations: Describe the presentations (posters and papers) you've given at conferences.

Interests: Describe your areas of interest, such as research interests, teaching interests, industry, and community interests, and so on.

Memberships: List all the organizations to which you belong or have been admitted during your life.

References: Provide a list of persons who know you well and can write glowing recommendations for you. Provide the references' contact information (postal address, email address, and phone number).

[fig 1] CV vs Resume

What Is a Résumé?

A résumé is a French word that translates as "summary." It is a more concise personal description of a person that includes a concise overview of their education, professional experience, skill set, and other accomplishments.

A résumé is a personal description document that you will commonly use while applying for employment if you are a job seeker. Its length is typically 1 to 2 pages, with an additional page capturing your publications and/or poster and paper presentations at conferences if they are very relevant to the desired employment.

Résumés are often formatted with numbered or bulleted lists of the information you wish to convey. This strives to provide information in a concise and to-the-point manner.

Always double-check that your resume includes the essential information in a clear and concise manner:

Name and Contact Information: Your name, physical address, email address, phone number, and maybe your LinkedIn account will be included in this section (ensure that it is adequately updated).

A Career Summary or Objective: This section includes a few sentences that outline your career as well as your future objectives.

Work Experience: This section captures the types of duties that you're performing in your current role or that you performed in previous roles, the name of the institution you're working for or worked for, the duration of the period you've been or were in the service of the institutions, job roles, job titles, and the projects that you delivered.

Skills: This section contains both hard and soft skills.

Education: This section is located near the end of the resume. It includes a list of all the degrees, diplomas, and certificates you've received, as well as the programs and organizations that issued them.

Awards and recognition: This section captures, in a comprehensive manner, all of the awards and honors that you've achieved that are very relevant to the position that you're applying for.

[fig 2] CV vs Resume

Tailor the CV or Résumé for the Job

Many job applicants tend to use a generic CV or résumé for all their applications for jobs and such other opportunities as fellowships, grants, sabbatical leave placements, postdoctoral prospects, etc. This is suicidal because, according to recruiters, a lack of CV or résumé customization has been found to account for 54% of the top reasons for rejecting a resume.

Many managers responsible for getting people for available positions nowadays use software tools to filter through resumes. The tools use keywords from the opportunity job description, which means that tailoring your CV or résumé using the descriptions provided in the advert improves your chances of having your resume read.Get help with your resume customization to maximize your chances of getting the "You’re hired!" message from your coveted employer!

Summary of the Difference Between CV and Résumé

Definition: A curriculum vitae or CV is Latin for "course of life," whereas a résumé is French for "summary."

Emphasis: CVs emphasize one’s academic accomplishments, while résumés emphasize skills.

Use: CVs are used when making applications for positions in academia, seeking fellowships, grants, postdoctoral positions, and teaching/research positions in post-secondary research positions in industry, as well as in merit/tenure reviews and sabbatical leave applications, whereas résumés are used when applying for positions in industry, not-for-profit entities, and the public sector.

Length: The length of CVs depends on one’s years of experience and includes a full list of one’s publications, poster presentations, and paper presentations at conferences, among others. On the other hand, résumés are rarely longer than 2 pages and may have an additional page that captures one’s publications, poster presentations, or paper presentations at conferences that are highly relevant to the position being applied for.

Approach: A CV is expertise-based, i.e., what makes you stand out from the crown in your field, whereas a résumé is contribution-based, i.e., the difference that you’ve made in your course of life (which is relevant to the job that you’re applying for).

Education: Always provided at the top of a CV, while in a résumé, it is generally positioned after "experience."

Add-ons: A CV can have publications, research, presentations, and organizational work as add-ons, whereas a résumé can have board positions, memberships to associations, etc., as add-ons.

Duration of Experience: CVs do not have a time limit within which to capture your experiences, publications, etc. You can provide such information as far as is possible within the confines of the opportunity that you’re applying for. Résumés, on the other hand, have a time limitation. Generally, you cannot provide details of more than 10 years of experience, except in very pertinent situations when you can stretch the duration to 15 years.

Key Takeaways

In all your job applications, remember the following key points about CV and resume crafting:

Keep it to the point: Research indicates that managers that fill advertised opportunities spend approximately 6 seconds going through a CV or a résumé. So, keep it concise and to the point.

Avoid generics: Don’t use generic CVs and résumés for every opportunity. Tailor them for each opportunity.

Be clear and simple: Make your CV or resume clear and simple.

Top Resume deal-breakers to avoid: Typos or bad grammar and lack of quantifiable results are among the top résumé deal breakers in the world by 77% and 34%, respectively. You can get help with your resume customization to deal with these.

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Wisedoc Expert team
Wisedoc's team of experts organizes the key learnings of career growth from recruiter's point of view and help users to add right content in their career profiles.