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What's the difference between a CV and a Resume?

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

CV stands for curriculum vitae which is Latin for “course of life”. CVs are typically seen as high-end sales documents and comprehensive by design, spanning your work history, education, certifications, memberships, publications, and specialisations. CVs for entry-level candidates are typically 2 or 3 pages. CVs for mid-level candidates who have amassed numerous projects tend to run longer. They typically extend up to 3 or 4 pages depending on your age, profession and type of work. CVs are more commonly used in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, however, there is a US-style CV used for technical professions.

In the United States, CVs are typically limited to professions with standardised positions in which deep expertise is critical, such as Oil & Energy, IT, Academia, Science, and Medicine. These CVs are filled with expanded education sections, work history, internships, public speaking, teaching appointments, journal publications and other details that establish credibility.

Resume is French for “summary. Resumes are typically used in the United States across most industries and are relatively short at just 1 or 2 pages long. That’s because resumes aren’t meant to include every detail of your past experience. Your resume should be tailored and updated based on the specifics of each job to which you apply. Irrelevant duties from past jobs can be removed to save space to draw more attention to your most applicable skills and achievements.

With CVs and Resumes, there are different types of layouts / formats and these can be broken down into Creative Styles and ATS Compliant Styles. Creative styles often use a sidebar and include graphics, icons and images, leaning on fancy design to impress the reader. ATS - Applicant Tracking System styles use a plain layout that is left aligned and typically uses a more traditional layout.

There are 2 ways in which a candidate can apply for a job position:

1. Person to Person application wherein you email or give your CV / resume to a recruiter / hiring manager and that person reviews your CV. In this case, you could use either a creative style or ATS style to present your information.

2. More commonly job seekers apply for open roles via a job boards or corporate career portals. In this case, you are dealing with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which will scan your CV and score you based on keywords mentioned in the job description. Here you will need to use a layout that is ATS compliant and can be scanned from top to bottom. Creative style CVs that use tables, text boxes and graphics do not fair well in ATS.

Lee Woodrow the Founder of Bigger Fish has been helping Senior Job Seekers, Consultants and Small Business Owners since 2008 by optimising CVs, Resumes & LinkedIn profiles, typically leading to:

  • More Interviews & Opportunities

  • Better Job Offers & Clients

  • Higher Salaries & Rates

If you feel that your personal brand is not performing as well as it should, feel free to reach out for a no-hassle chat about your requirements and have the expert turn your situation around. Bigger Fish offers a complete range of CV & LinkedIn Optimisation Packages that include 1-on-1 online meetings wherein the expert coaches you on modern CV, Resume and LinkedIn best practices.