Many panicked job-seekers wonder if they’re doing all they can for their careers if they don’t have a CV on file. For most American workers, this document is an unnecessary extra, but I’ll explain the differences just in case you’re one of the few who will need to keep one in hand.
What is a CV?
Unless you’re applying to a job that specifically requests a CV, or are looking for a job in academia, you’ll likely never need a CV — most jobs use resumes. Modern hiring professionals want a quick summary of your most valuable skills — after all, they have a lot of applicants to weed through before they make their list of people to interview.
A CV is not brief, nor does it only list the skills needed for any single given job. Instead, a CV is a lengthy document (often more than five pages and almost always more than two) that lists all of your work history, published works, presentations, affiliations and academic achievements. It’s meant to establish your position as an expert in your field. Although that would seem useful for nearly anyone, sending a CV when a resume is called for is a sure fire way to destroy your chances at any given resume-driven job.
The Biggest Difference Between a CV and a Resume
Obviously, the length of these two documents differs greatly, but there are more than just page counts that separate them. The attitude of a CV is much like what you’d expect, too. It’s very straightforward, offering loads of raw data for an employer.
A resume, on the other hand, is more like a sales document and your job history is the thing on special. A resume extracts data from your life and frames it in ways that show a specific employer exactly what you have to offer them. The resume should save potential employers the time of digging around for features and instead present the benefits of hiring you in plain language.
When writing a professional resume, you’re offering up the highlights to a specific audience. A CV provides your career history to anyone and everyone who might be interested. Like with all things in life, you should always use the right tool when you’re job seeking to get the very best results.