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Résumé vs. CV

Whether you have just been graduated from college or graduate school, or if you are exploring a new career opportunity, a correctly formatted résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a necessity for a successful job hunt. Before we address formatting, let’s outline the fundamental differences between a résumé and a CV.

A résumé is formatted either chronologically or by skill set, and is usually no longer than one page in length for a recent grad or two pages for a more tenured professional. It can and should be edited for each position for which you are submitting your candidacy. For example, you should tailor your résumé to include relevant keywords plus clearly detail targeted skills required for a particular job.

A CV is a longer document that is formatted chronologically and used to provide a comprehensive overview of your education, career, and accomplishments. So while it includes your education and career history (similar to a résumé), a CV also includes awards and honors you’ve received, patents secured, publications, academic positions held, link to thesis (if applicable), etc. While the content on a CV is not customized for each submission, fresh content is added as new accomplishments are achieved.

With the above in mind, the question is: which do you use? In the United States, a résumé is traditionally the preferred option for submitting your candidacy to a job posting. Résumés are widely used because of the efficiency they provide for an employer when reviewing for relevant responsibilities and skills, and because the details covered in a CV aren’t necessarily essential for applicant pre-screening. That being said, it is a good idea to use a CV instead of a résumé:

  • On your LinkedIn profile.

  • If you are applying for a research or academic position. For example, an individual who has just obtained a PhD, and is pursuing a career in academia or a specialized field, should opt for a CV instead of a résumé, as it will clearly illustrate the differences between applicants from the same academic background.

  • When applying for international positions, as many international businesses (such as those in the UK) expect a CV.

Assuming you are drafting a résumé, let’s outline the appropriate format. The better formatted the résumé, the better chances you have of passing the pre-screen process, be it by an HR professional or opitcal character recognition software (OCR) searching for relevant keywords.

Identification & Contact Information: Provide your full name and contact information at the top of your résumé. A few things to consider:

  • A city and state is considered sufficient; your specific street need not be provided.

  • Expect both phone calls and text messages to the number provided. For this reason, a mobile/c number if strongly preferred.

  • Avoid using an outdated email address: opt for a Gmail account versus an AOL.

  • Include a link to your LinkedIn profile. If you do not yet have one, consider building one now.

  • Do not write “résumé” at the top of your résumé.

Proficiencies vs. Objectives: In previous years, an “objectives” statement about what you are able to bring to a new employer was commonplace. This is now considered outdated, and has been replaced by a bulleted list of business/professional proficiencies.

Education: Your education is either the next section of your résumé (if you are a recent high school, college, or grad school graduate) or the last section of your résumé (if you have already established a career history). Consider the following:

  • Provide the name of the institution from which you received your highest level of education first, followed by the degree received, major field of study, and graduation year (graduation year is sometimes omitted). If you attended college, do not include high school information (it will be assumed that you have a high school diploma or equivalent).

  • For positions in the STEM fields, include your GPA if it is over a 3.0. If the GPA you earned in your major field of study is higher than your overall GPA, consider providing that instead (identifying it as such).

  • Include certifications and accreditations as well as relevant professional memberships at the end of this section.

Career History and Experience: Employers usually prefer a chronologically formatted résumé over a “combination” résumé. A combination résumé shows your experience out of chronological order and instead highlights skills specific to a certain position. For example, let’s say you are applying for a management position. If you have spent the past two years working as a cashier, but previously held a management role, list your management experience first (out of chronological order). This is what we mean when we refer to “customizing” your résumé for each career opportunity. Whether chronological or combination, include the name of your employer, city and state of workplace, title, and dates of employment including the month and year. Follow that with four to six bullet points that describe tasks and responsibilities you performed and/or managed.

Skills: Examples of relevant skills include languages for which you have a business proficiency (other than English) and a comprehensive itemization of any technical skills and software used.

And finally, a word to the wise: always be honest on your résumé. Not only is it grounds for immediate dismissal if any false accomplishments are uncovered, but also any skill deficiencies will be uncovered within weeks, if not days, of starting a new position. Just as you expect transparency and honesty from your employer, so too must we provide it!

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