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CVs vs. Resumes: Which One You Should Use and Why

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One of the questions that I have heard people ask a lot is the difference between a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a resume.

In the ever-present CV vs. resume war, this is one question I don’t believe is going extinct soon. The reason is not for lack of information, but for the lack of clear information. This confuses even experienced job seekers.

The best way to compare the two is to use some common grounds to gain a more practical insight into their similarities and differences.

CV vs. Resume: Length

The first point of consideration in this battle is the length of both documents.

A resume is the shorter of both and is usually a brief and focused summary of your skills and work experience. It is considered standard etiquette to keep your resume between 1 – 2 pages.

On the other hand, the CV is where you input much more detail. There is no limit to the job descriptions, positions held, achievements, skills, interests and other sections you can fill in here.

A CV is the one you stack with information as you go along different phases in your professional ladder (even if some experiences are outside your current industry). With such provisions, CVs will typically have many more pages.

Read More: 5 Signs You Need to Update your Resume

CV vs. Resume: Purpose

The purpose of your resume is to allow you apply to specific jobs at different times. It is the short form of the skills from your CV that fits into the description of the position you are applying. This dictates that you can have multiple resumes and only one CV as the reference point.

Why the resume is essential here is nor far-fetched. If you have experience in both marketing and mechanical engineering, you would want to prioritize the latter when applying as a mechanic.

Instead of leaving the hiring manager to find what they want for themselves, you have simplified the process (thus boosting your chances).

CV vs. Resume: Layout

Last is the layout of both documents.

At a quick glance, you won’t miss that a CV provides a chronological account of an individual’s career: Where they’ve been, for how long, what they were doing there, and key responsibilities and accomplishments, etc. The layout and content of a resume are tailored to the specific need for the position.  As a result, a resume may represent a person’s career with gaps in between.

Usually, CVs are a more common feature in academia and research. Resumes, on the other hand, are very common in most job applications.

The bottom line is, at any point in time, know which is which. That informs you on what to send to the recruiter and what not to.

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