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What is the Difference between a CV and a Resume?

If you’re looking to enter into a fulfilling career, you need to be ready to present yourself to your prospective employer as the right person not only for the job, but also for the company culture. For those in the United States, career resource centers and advice articles commonly stress the importance of putting together an informative, yet concise resume. But some employers aren’t asking for a resume. Instead, they want Curriculum Vitae, or a CV. In order to give you the “short answer” some may tell you that a resume and a CV are the same thing, and while both are used for a similar purpose there is a distinct difference between CV and resume, and it’s important to understand this difference if you are going to leave the impression you want.

Detail vs. Concise

Perhaps the simplest way to describe the difference between CV and resume is to look at the difference between providing a snapshot and delivering a full portrait. Conciseness is the driving focus of a resume. Prospective employers are busy and when they are going through resumes they don’t want to read a novel. They want to know how you fit in with the specific position they have available. They don’t need to know your life story. A resume should be no more than a page, and contain a lot of bullet points that will showcase your talents at a glance.

With a Curriculum Vitae, your “life story” is exactly what the prospective employer wants. In contrast to a resume, a CV should be at least two pages long, and includes not only your skillset for a certain job, but will also reveal your personality and your values.

A Deeper Look

A CV outlines your achievements and accomplishments, and reveals any educational endeavors you have experienced, and even challenges you have overcome. The good news is that a CV does not need as many “facelifts” as a resume. You are who you are, and it isn’t necessary to present a different side of yourself as you apply for a different job. Unless there is a major event in your life that changes you, your CV stays the same. Specifics about your qualifications for the position are communicated instead through your cover letter.

Traditionally American employers will ask for a resume and employers from the U.K. look for a CV, but in reality any employer could ask for either — or both.

Looking at the Complete Picture

When you are job hunting and are applying to many different companies it is easy to get caught up in the paycheck and the desire for a sense of stability as you earn a living to support yourself and possibly a family. Some employers will just want that quick resume. They just want a “body” with enough skills to get through a workday.

But focusing only on the immediate need has its drawbacks. It’s important to look at that full portrait of a company before accepting a position. Look at their mission and their value set, and see that it aligns with what you believe in. A job can be done by passing through and being ready to move on when something better comes along, but if you are embarking on a career you are forming a relationship, in which case it’s to everyone’s benefit to get to know one another a little bit better.

Learn how to write a cover letter and find CV and resume examples at CCU.