What is the difference between a CV and a resume?

In broad terms, the secret of a successful job application process often lies in supplying what the hiring manager really wants to hear, whether this is verbally at a job interview or in written terms via a CV or a resume. The recruitment team, whether it's a group of people or an individual person, will be looking for someone who ticks all the right boxes, such as having the right experience and working in a team environment, so you need to be doing all you can to show that you're the right person for the job role. Providing a CV or resume is crucial, but what's the difference between them?

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae is a formal, polished document containing information about your education, work experience, skills, etc., which you use to apply for jobs or perhaps to gain entrance to graduate school. It typically includes detailed information on your professional background. Your curriculum vitae should be updated regularly. Every time you achieve something new, you should add it to your CV. 

Your CV should include a summary of your academic history, professional experience, and accomplishments. CVs should be written in standard English so that any employer will understand. They should include a full name, contact information, professional title, resume summary, resume objective, research interests, education, publications, teaching or lecturing experience, work experience, conferences and courses attended, specific skills, hobby interests, certificates, languages, grants of fellowships, references, etc. 

A CV can be used by a candidate who wants to get into politics, journalism, law, medicine, business, science, engineering, art, music, sports, writing and a great many other sectors.

What is a resume? 

In contrast, a resume is a summary of the information on your CV. Resumes usually contain less detail than CVs, and as a result, they tend to be shorter. Resumes should be concise, straight to the point documents highlighting the most important things about you. You should include your accomplishments, skills, and experiences. Your resume should usually be no more than two pages long. You should include only the most relevant information for each job you apply for. Your resume should also be updated regularly. You need to highlight the most important information about yourself. Use bullet points to make it easier for readers to scan the document. Remember to include relevant keywords when describing your work history.

CV vs Resume - differences between them and writing tips

Length and focus

CVs are often longer than resumes. They usually contain information about your academic history, work history, skills, awards, publications, etc. Resumes are often shorter and focus on your professional career. A CV is a personal academic and professional diary that includes all relevant information that a hiring manager might look for. Throughout your career, you should update this document as you go along. While a resume focuses more on your professional achievements, a CV might focus more on your academic achievements and perhaps a selection of personal qualities.

Skills and hobbies

CVs should be concise and to the point. Don't provide unnecessary details about yourself. Instead, focus your CV on the valuable skills you can offer the employer, and ways in which you integrate into the company culture. Avoid using long paragraphs, and include achievements that could help in your job quest. If you're applying for a certain role, you may even want to adapt the CV on a one-off basis in order to support that particular application or to list a specific hobby. Remember, it is important to try to imagine what the recruitment team happens to be looking for. Try to make your personal development dovetail with your direct experience to create a particularly attractive candidate. 

In addition to professional achievements and academic qualifications, it can be useful to list a list of hobbies and interests on CVs and resumes. Interest in a hobby makes you a more rounded individual. These can include the likes of sporting activities, such as tennis, golf and chess. Team sports such as cricket, rugby and football are also worth listing because they show you are a team player. Taking an interest in the arts is good, including theatre, cinema, music, photography and literature. Other relevant hobbies that you enjoy in your spare time such as travelling, cooking and involvement with community activities and groups will also be of interest. If you have an unusual hobby that might be a good topic of conversation, feel free to mention it.

Education & academic achievements

Academic accomplishments should be placed first on your resume. Work experience and education should be listed last. Use your full name as the author of any publication. Include the title of your dissertation or thesis if applicable. Your resume should also contain information about your research or studies. You should also include any relevant awards or certifications you may have earned, but ensure that they are your very best achievements.

Additional notes

A resume or CV should match the job description issued by the employer. You should highlight your qualifications, soft skills, and experiences. Your education, work history, and skill sets should match the requirements that you can pick out from the job listing. Keywords should be used in resumes or CVs when describing relevant, transferable skills and experience. For example, if you're a candidate for a marketing role, you may include keywords such as social media, marketing or sales. These will help any recruiting person or team understand what you bring to the table. 

CV and resume templates

A template gives you an organised structure to write about yourself, so be sure to use templates when writing resumes and CVs. Always proofread and edit your documents before submission. Spell check and grammar check when necessary, and if you think it will help ask a friend or relative to check the document as well. Michael Page also has a variety of resume templates available to help guide your writing process, including templates for fresh graduates, mid-managerial level applicants, and executive-level or senior applicants. 

A professional, well-written CV or resume gets you noticed amongst a sea of candidates

Writing a good CV or resume requires time, attention to detail, and patience. Always remember, your CV or resume is a very personal document, and it's used to generate  rapport with hiring managers and recruitment teams. Be aware at all times that your main priority is to succeed in your job application, so make sure every word, every sentence and every paragraph is geared towards helping you achieve the ultimate prize (whilst not fabricating any information). Use your communication skills to get the message across and clearly demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job!

If you want an additional pair of eyes to go over your CV or resume, Michael Page is here to support you. Contact our team of advisors and we will be happy to give advice on how to improve your CV or resume to better align with your job search goals and target positions before you start your job search. 

Confident in your CV or resume? You can begin to search for jobs on Michael Page and apply using your professionally-written document. Be sure to set up a job alert so you don’t miss out on any new jobs in your preferred industry. Our salary comparison tool is also on hand to give you a better idea of what your average earning potential is according to industry benchmarks. Good luck!

Read More:

9 things recruiters look for in a resume

How to write a winning resume

5 ways to make your resume stand out