No, Your Curriculum Vitae and Resume are NOT the Same Thing

No, Your Curriculum Vitae and Resume are NOT the Same Thing

Know these 3 Differences and Send the Right Doc Every Time

Good news! The employer of your dreams has just asked you to send in your CV. And, after hopping online, you successfully decode CV (“Curriculum Vitae”). If you keep reading, you may find multiple, “helpful” comments that define the CV as “interchangeable with resume.”

No, my friend, you CV and Resume are not the same thing. Not in the U.S., anyway.

While there has been increasing overlap between these two documents in other countries, the fact is that here, employers have very specific expectations when they say CV. And, unless you’ve broken all of today’s Resume Rules, your resume won’t cut it.

There are 3 key differences between the two. Follow these guidelines and show prospective employers you have what they’re looking for.

1. First, a brief (but exciting) mini-course in Latin…
The easiest way to understand the fundamental differences between these two documents is to be sure you understand what the words actually mean – or meant, anyway, in their original Latin. A literal translation of Curriculum is “the course” or “the running” while “vitae” means “life.” So, your CV describes “the course of your life.” It’s a tall order. It’s long. It’s detailed. It’s your biography – through the lens of your career. When you think about the purpose of your CV, it is to share everything relevant to the job for which you’re applying.

On the other hand, the Latin root “sum” is at the center of the word, “Resume.” And that’s exactly what you’re supposed to create. With your resume, you are tasked with summarizing the highlights of your career, phrased and shaped for job you’re seeking. As I’m sure you’ve read, today’s resume expectations are to keep it short, attention-getting and convincing.

2. The Real Meanings Behind an Employer’s Request
You may have been told that you don’t have to worry about a CV unless you’re applying for an academic or research position. That’s not entirely true. While you almost certainly need a CV for such positions, the fact is, any employer might request a CV these days. And when someone asks you for your CV, you should interpret that to mean that they’re seeking – and fully expecting – candidates with significant career achievements and life experiences under their belt. Extending well past the job titles you’ve held, these expectations include awards, original research, published papers and books, fellowships, grants, high profile internships or clerkships, teaching experience, formal presentations and advanced educational accomplishments. By contrast, a resume gives you more room to use your previous accomplishments to demonstrate how your core competencies, attitudes, even raw talent make you qualified for a position – even if you don’t necessarily have the most experience or professional accolades.

3. How to Do It: The Formatting Rules for CV’s and Resumes
Keeping these differences in mind, you need to write each document very differently. While going past a few pages is sacrilege to resume writers, a two-page CV would be seen as a lightweight.

Writing Your Curriculum Vitae
As your biography, your CV is going to take up a lot more real estate. And the hiring manager reviewing it is fully prepared to hunker down for the long read. They’re not skipping parts. They’re not yawning and complaining about the painful boredom. They’re seeking details and committed to finding them. Still, do your best to keep everything well organized and use the most engaging language you can muster. You can choose to simply document all of your positions, achievements and accolades in chronological order. Or, you can group and prioritize them according to the specific demands of the job you’re seeking. And yes, CV’s commonly exceed eight pages.

Writing Your Resume
Speed, Engagement, Even Delight! Yes, the demands of the resume are many and fairly intense. Recruiters and hiring managers often face mountains of applications and resumes. Because of this, the time they’re willing to commit to each one is  miniscule. Maybe 15-90 seconds. Yes, you need to get the attention of a reviewer within the first few seconds or off you go, straight into the No Pile. It’s an extraordinary burden of personal marketing but it also gives you great deal of creative leeway in your formatting. If you’re hoping to demonstrate impressive, continuous career growth, pt for a chronological order of job titles. Hoping to minimize the gaping holes in a your work history? Group jobs by the professional strengths and achievements you demonstrated and acquired within them.

You should never submit anything to an employer (including CV, resume or cover letter) that is physically difficult or frustrating to read. That means no weird fonts, super-skinny margins or misspellings or bad grammar. But beyond avoiding those mistakes, you can do things to your resume to make them more visually appealing and easier to navigate. Use wide margins, bullet points, sub-headlines, bolding and italics. But use them sparingly. And ask your most marketing savvy friends to review your final drafts before sending them out. It’s only natural that, after staring at and editing your resume for a while, you go blind to the glaring problems. A solid review by the people you trust can save you from sending out a bad Curriculum Vitae or Resume.

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