Get ready! Time for the ultimate showdown… resume vs. CV!
Why do some employers require one while others want both? Why do they both sound French?* And what’s the difference between the two?
A resume, also spelled résume or résumé, is a document that you’re probably already pretty familiar with if you’ve ever taken a spin through the working world. The point of a resume is to get you a job. It’s the first thing most hiring managers see and it’s often what gets you through the door -- or where the door closes. Your ideal resume is short, efficient, and sells all your best features.
A curriculum vitae, or CV, is less common in the U.S. Unless you plan to work in academia or research, you probably won’t really need one. Literally meaning “course of life,” the point of a CV is to provide a portrait of your entire scholarly and academic history. As a result, a CV can go on for pages, listing academic interests, accomplishments, honors and awards.
Both should include:
- Current contact information, including
- Email address
- **Mailing address **(usually your own, although if you’re affiliated with an academic institution or have a personal office somewhere you can use that one too)
- Phone number
Here’s where they diverge...
A resume will have:
- **An objective **-- what you want to do as a potential employee in your chosen field. Alternatively, you can offer a short description of yourself with some key words.
- Educational background -- your schools and degrees, with a mention of majors or concentrations
-** Work history **-- the highlights of your work in a chosen field, selected to frame you as an ideal candidate. A resume doesn’t need to include your entire work history!
- Volunteer experience
- **Clips / publications **-- if it’s relevant to your field, it may be good to include a list of publications (or organizations, galleries, etc) that have featured your work
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While a CV will have:
- Educational background, including titles of your theses if relevant
- Academic or research interests -- the things you study and the areas you’re interested in
- Work history, in chronological order
- Volunteer experience
- Presentations -- for example, if you presented at a conference, you’d list it with relevant details
- Grants, honors and awards
- Membership -- if you’re a member of any societies or professional organizations, you’d generally put them on a CV.
It’s also good to have multiple resumes, while you only need one CV.
A resume, like a cover letter, is a living document that should be adjusted to suit the gig you’re applying for. This might require big changes, or just small tweaks-- for more on that, read here.
Meanwhile, a CV is a static entity that you can update as you add employers or publications, but the structure doesn’t need to change much once you’ve found something you’re happy with. Just be sure to update it as you add accomplishments!
So who’s the winner?
There isn’t! A resume does what a resume does best, and a CV does what a CV does best. They show off different sides of your fantastic brain and work history, and they’re very different things.
And that means that you should you need both documents, work to make them the strongest they can be. Don’t just copy paste your CV in when you’re asked for a resume… or vice versa. For more tips on how to write a great resume, click here.
- Also, résumé is French but CV is Latin, and both come from Latin. Etymology lesson!
Larissa Pham is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She's really into Greek and Latin roots.