Both a CV (curriculum vitae) and a resume are used in job applications, but there is a difference between these document types. A CV presents your career history coherently, including professional employment, educational pursuits, research and community activities. On the contrary, a resume focuses on experience and skills related to the targeted job description. Continue reading to find out when to use each and how to write a compelling CV or resume.
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What is a CV and when is it used?
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) means ‘course of life’ in Latin. Therefore, it’s exceedingly detailed: it contains full information about one’s professional history, education, and other activities and accomplishments. You need to list your educational history in full since high school, regardless of its relevance to the job you have in mind. This applies to employment as well: you need to list all jobs regardless of the industry and relevance.
When describing education, community and research activities, you need not only give dates and organizations’ names, but also present a summary of these activities. Lecturers and researchers must include every article or book chapter published, as well as conferences attended. A CV can take over ten pages, and the more is better. Yet, CVs are used rarely in the United States compared to resumes, as they are mostly used to apply for research and teaching positions.
How to write a strong CV?
· Include all educational, professional and community activities. Details are expected and even welcomed, so if you have 25 articles published and volunteer for three organizations, don’t be shy to mention all of them.
· Consider the audience. CVs are typically reviewed by academics or a hiring committee who understand the peculiarities of your field and research work. So, keep the language professional, use terminology and avoid over-explaining the details of your teaching and research positions.
· Start the CV by listing your education, relevant experience, and publications. Below, you can list awards and scholarships, teaching and administrative experience, technical skills, conferences attended, professional memberships, languages, and other sections.
· Do not include the summary or objective. An objective statement or summary is often included at the top of the resume. Yet, they aren’t a must in your CV unless you want to tell something important to the committee.
· Keep the formatting strict and skimmable. When writing a CV for academic positions, avoid bright colors and creative formatting. Opt for a black-and-white document with sections clearly divided. Use bullets and formatting to make the text easy to read.
What is a resume?
The main difference between a CV and a resume is the length and amount of information presented. The word resume means ‘to summarize’ in French. So, in this document you need to present only relevant education, experience and activities that present you as a strong candidate for a particular job. In other words, if you apply for a job as a marketing manager, no need to include a part-time bartender position.
A resume is used to apply for most jobs in the business sector, unless the job posting asks otherwise. Business owners and recruiters are busy and usually don’t like receiving multi-page resumes. They would prefer receiving a resume up to 2 pages long and tailored for a specific job opening.
Tips for writing a resume
· Include relevant keywords. Most companies use applicant tracking systems that look for specific keywords in resumes. To increase your interview chances, you need to add keywords (names of skills and competencies) from the job posting to your resume.
· Adapt it for every job. It is time-consuming, but generic resumes never get the hiring manager’s attention. Focus on experience and skills that present you as an asset for a specific job. Omit the irrelevant jobs and jobs you had over 15 years ago.
· Consider the audience. Your resume might be reviewed by a recruiter with no specific experience in your industry or role. So, avoid using many technical terms and difficult language so that your experience can be understood by everyone.
· Keep it to 1-2 pages. The rule of thumb for resumes is to use one page if you are a student or have a few years of experience, and two pages if you are an experienced professional or manager. Writing longer resumes is usually not recommended.
· Add a catchy summary. Write 3-4 sentences at the beginning of the resume to present your most relevant skills and achievements to the employer.
Make sure to clarify whether an employer expects a CV or a resume and send the required document type. By following the tips above, you will avoid confusion and present your experience and skills in the most convincing manner.