Before getting started on the job hunt process, the most important consideration for a job applicant is to create an impressive and effective curriculum vitae (CV) or a resume. Both a CV and a resume essentially have the same intent which is to give your prospective employer more information about your suitability for the employment position in question. However, while the two terms are used interchangeably these days, a curriculum vitae and a resume do in fact have certain key differences.

Etymology of Curriculum Vitae and Resume

The word resume is derived from a French word which in general means “to resume” and more specifically means “to summarize”, which is exactly what a resume does. Curriculum Vitae is derived from Latin and means “course of life” which explains why CV’s usually contain more details about an individual’s life than a resume.

Contents of a CV and Resume

A curriculum vitae and a resume both contain information about a person’s education, professional experience and other relevant skills but there is a difference in the way the information is laid out in each of these documents.

A resume is usually a brief summary of a person’s educational qualifications, work experience and other skills and accomplishments relevant to the job position. The emphasis is on brief. Job applicants often create multiple resumes, tailoring each for the individual job application.

A curriculum vitae is a more detailed description of a person’s education, professional experience and all the skills and talents they posses. It details all previous work experience, names of organizations, position descriptions, professional affiliations, licenses and other relevant information. It also elaborates on other personal achievements including awards and certifications. Some individuals also like to include information about training, seminars and conferences attended. This in turn makes a curriculum vitae longer than a resume.

Purpose of a CV and Resume

Technically a resume and a curriculum vitae are used for different purposes. A resume is the standard synopsis of educational qualifications and professional experience that is used when applying for a job. A curriculum vitae on the other hand is generally used by an applicant when applying for academic, educational or scientific research positions. To put it simply, a resume helps an individual create a professional identity for themselves while a curriculum vitae serves the purpose of creating a more scholarly or academic identity.

Importance of a CV and Resume

As mentioned previously, resumes are often tailored depending on the job position in question. A resume must be concise and completely relevant to the position an applicant is interested in. It must not contain any unnecessary details of work experience or any irrelevant skills. In addition, personal details in a resume should also be minimum and limited to the individual’s name and contact details.

A curriculum vitae on the other hand does not necessarily have to be tailored to a specific job description. This is because a CV by definition usually consists of all the substantial details about an individual and hence does not require editing. Also, a CV is usually used to apply for academic or scientific positions and these employers prefer to get a detailed idea of prospective employees through their curriculum vitae.

Length of a CV or Resume

One of the important distinctions between a curriculum vitae (CV) and a resume is the length. A resume is usually a very brief synopsis of a person’s qualifications and skills, not taking up more than one or two printed pages. A curriculum vitae on the other hand is longer and a more detailed synopsis of the applicant’s education, work experience and other skills. It is usually longer than two pages.

If you are applying for an educational, academic or scientific position, a curriculum vitae is probably what you will need. However for most other job applicants, a resume is sufficient for a job application as employers seldom want much more than a brief synopsis. Any other details will usually be covered during the job interview.

Differences between a Resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV)

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