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CV vs. Resume: What Recruiters & Candidates Need to Know

When hiring for a position, one of the most common requests is to ask for a summary of the applicant’s history and experience. This is typically expressed in a resume, but you may also receive a CV from time to time. But which is best for determining the right hire? The answer depends on your situation, location, and a few other factors.

Here’s how to know whether a resume or CV is best for your talent or job search and what to look for when you receive one.

What is a CV (Curriculum Vitae)?

CV is short for “curriculum vitae,” which is Latin for “course of life.” It’s usually longer than a standard resume and showcases professional experience and skills with a particular focus on academic background. Because it seeks to highlight academic accomplishments, it will be much shorter for those who are new to their field, haven’t been published in many journals, or haven’t received awards. Also, for jobs where academic achievement isn’t relevant, a CV isn’t appropriate.

A CV may be accompanied by a curriculum vitae summary. This is a one or two-page cover letter that highlights the highlights of the overall CV and gives a quick snapshot of the skills and qualifications. You may request this summary for the initial pool of applicants, then ask those who make it through to the next interview round to supply their full CV.

What to include in a CV

Applicants who chose to submit a CV should include their name and contact information, including phone or email. They should also include education, job skills, and relevant experience. They’ll likely list any teaching experience, grants, fellowships, professional memberships, and published work, too. 

Why is it important for candidates and the hiring team?

A CV demonstrates the width and breadth of a professional background where academic accomplishments may be required. This is common for academic jobs, but it may also be useful for jobs in science, health, or law. Any industry that uses academic rigor as a measure could benefit from CVs.  

Examples 

One of the best ways to fully understand a CV is to review well-executed examples. Here are two resources that properly demonstrate the CV format:

US vs International CVs

In the United States and Canada, CVs are generally used for academic, scientific, and research professions, or for applying for grad school. This is not the case in other countries, however. An employer in Europe may ask for a CV, for example, but what they are really looking for is something more like a US resume—but titled as a CV. This is true for other regions, like Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.

Someone accustomed to applying for jobs outside of the U.S. may also provide much more personal information than what we are allowed to ask for in the U.S. Be prepared to clarify what you are looking for in a CV, if asked.

What is a resume?

A resume is a summary of work qualifications. It is generally no more than two pages, and most employers prefer a one-page resume. It doesn’t have as much focus on academia, allowing the applicant to highlight work history, volunteerism, and any other activity that ties into the position. 

Resumes generally fall into a few popular formats, including chronological order, which shows experience from newest to oldest. For someone who may not have a lot of work experience or who has gaps in their employment, they may prefer the functional resume format. This allows the applicant to group their experiences into similar and specific job tasks or goals. 

What to include in a resume

Each resume you review in the hiring cycle should include the following pieces of information:

  • The title of the position 
  • Contact information, including phone or email
  • A resume summary of the applicant’s career goals or history
  • Listing of past employers and work experience
  • Education section
  • Relevant skills 
  • Accomplishments, such as awards, promotions, licenses, and certifications

Why is a resume important for both candidates and the hiring team?

A resume can tell a hiring manager and their team, at a glance, if the candidate is qualified enough to make it through to the next hiring round. While a resume is only one piece of the job application puzzle, HR professionals can learn a lot from it.

Often, submitting the resume is considered the first “test” for job seekers. Any applicant who can’t submit a resume upon request or submits one with many errors could be unqualified for the job. If anything, a resume demonstrates that an applicant can follow directions and employ certain standards in their work. 

Examples

There is no shortage of good resume examples, but not all of them are well-written. These sites have resume templates used by modern employers. There are also many resume builders out there, such as this one that you can use. 

CV vs resume: the major differences and when to request

The rules for international hiring will differ from those for filling roles within the U.S. For domestic hiring, a resume is often sought for positions where academic rigor or advancement isn’t as important. If the position is within the university system or for a job where published journals, peer-reviewed research, or teaching experience matters, a CV should be requested instead.

Tips for writing a successful CV or resume

Applicants should put their best foot forward with a resume or CV by following these guidelines:

  • Pick the right format, such as chronological vs functional
  • Use an eye-pleasing format free from illustrations and distracting elements
  • Write in a concise and easy-to-understand manner, using keywords when possible for hiring software
  • Don’t exaggerate claims or make jobs sound more advanced than they really are
  • List out references for each job, along with a way to contact them
  • Provide examples of what you accomplished at each position, with tangible or measurable data, if possible
  • Naturally incorporate keywords that relate to the desired job
  • Use a template to help format your document and ensure you don’t miss anything

The resume should be no more than a single page, and two pages at most. CVs can be longer but should only be filled with relevant information. 

What should recruiters and the hiring team look for from a CV or resume?

If you’re charged with reading and reviewing these documents, look for these signs of a successful resume or CV. 

  • Clearly-written content that doesn’t ramble or include “fluffy” language
  • Accurate grammar and spelling
  • Experience that matches the advertised position
  • A commitment to past jobs, with more than a year at select positions
  • Adjacent or relevant experience that may be outside of your own industry
  • A pattern of accomplishment, promotion, or growth
  • Signs of pride or enjoyment in past experiences
  • Skills that can translate to your job offering, even if they aren’t an exact match
  • Numbers, stats, or facts for their accomplishments
  • Easy to comprehend and read out loud to your teams

Is there anything you should avoid?

If an applicant fails to provide contact information for references or suggests that they can provide them only upon request, it may mean they don’t have good previous employment experiences. This shouldn’t disqualify a candidate entirely, but most applicants will be willing to have you talk to most, if not all, of their previous employers.

During your first pass-through of the resumes or CVs, don’t try to pick out the best of the bunch. Instead, use your initial review to discard any of the absolute “nos,” which is much easier. If you use any HR software to help you flag resumes or boost favorites to the top of the list, this can help, too. 

Even if you use keyword tools to match applicants, take another look through for resumes that appear professional but have inconsistencies in dates, names, or wording. The resume or CV is a useful tool in narrowing down a large applicant pool, because it helps you weed out the bad fits right from the start. 

How Comeet can help

If shuffling through all of the resumes or CVs is overwhelming, an applicant tracking system could help lighten the load. With Comeet’s ATS, you’ll enjoy the benefits of automation and collaboration that work to recruit and deliver the best hires possible for our partners. Learn why Comeet is a leading recruitment partner today.

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Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith is a content strategy consultant working with high-growth businesses on their brand messaging, content strategy, and content creation. A digital nomad, she's exploring the world's cultures and cuisines as she works.

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