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Curriculum Vitae vs Resume: What's The Difference?

I know I am getting a bit repetitive with the comparing and contrasting thing. But what needs to be said, needs to be said. I mean think about it. How would you feel if you spent hours drafting a CV only to realize that you were actually supposed to write a resume? Or vice versa? That would suck, right? Now I know what you’re thinking, “who in their right mind would confuse the two?” Well, to tell you the truth, it happens a lot more often than one might think (believe me). A person’s first thought would normally be, “oh a CV? That’s a resume! I know how to do that!” That’s why it is good to know the difference so that you can have both at your disposal when needed.

CVs differ from resumes in many areas - customization, relevance, and the potential size of each document. To put it quite simply, curriculum vitae’s cover everything you have ever done since high school. They may include old and recent publications, projects, presentations, degrees, certificates, awards, and achievements. You list EVERYTHING out there. This is a one-size-fits-all document that you do not need to personalize or customize, for the most part. The older you are, the longer your CV is going to be. These documents could be a short as one page or as long as six pages, or more.

In contrast, resumes should be as short as possible. It is a personalized presentation of you for a specific occasion. Ideally, your resume should fit on one page. As you gain new experiences, you add these to the top of the resume. From top to bottom, the information should be ordered from most recent/relevant to least recent. Exclude experiences you had 5 years ago because they are no longer time relevant. Also, try to make your sentences as brief as possible. If you needed to use 3 sentences to express an idea, try to reduce it to one sentence. If a description of certain idea needed 3 words, reduce it to one word. Do you catch my drift?

In some circumstances, you may need to draft both documents. Right now, you are probably thinking, “well, if a CV has everything, why do I need a resume?” I am glad I read your mind. That’s a very good question. My response to that is: there is no such thing as being too prepared! But on a serious note. You need each of these documents for varied reasons.

Curriculum Vitae are used exclusively in academia and research. You are typically expected to submit a CV when applying for a PhD, a master’s program, or if you are specifically asked to provide one. In all other cases, you provide a resume. College, internships, entry level jobs, career jobs-about 98% of the positions you apply for will ask for a resume.

After reading that, you believe you will never need a CV (don’t worry, I’m guilty of it too), but I still recommend having one because people tend to forget the past projects that they have participated in. As time goes by, you will not always remember every little detail of all your accomplishments throughout your career. Having a CV in your possession will allow you to have a main repository of all your career milestones and accomplishments. So, if you already have CV, you have good head start for creating your resume.

I know, that was totally mind blowing, right? Or at the very least, informative? So, go on and get started. And best of luck crafting that killer Curriculum Vitae, or resume, or both!

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