What's The Difference Between A CV And A Resume?

Are you getting confused between these two documents?

Applying for jobs should be straightforward… but sometimes there are obstacles that get in the way. Understanding how employers want you to apply can be the first hurdle you come up against. If you're set on looking for jobs all around the world, you should know that there are different documents you'll need to use. So, what's the difference between a European CV and a resume? Within this guide, we will take a look at the main things of which you should be aware.

What is a CV?

First things first, let's talk about what a CV is. Here in the UK, this is the most commonly used document when applying for jobs. If you want to get nerdy about it all, the acronym stands for Curriculum Vitæ, which translates as 'the course of one's life'. Put simply, it's a chronological account of your life and career so far. That means that—as you get older and wiser—your CV will start to get longer and more interesting. With that in mind, these documents can be two or even three pages long.

Additionally, there are strict rules that apply to writing a CV, which include what you should include, the length of the document, and the order that you list things. Chances are, you are used to writing CVs and know what format to use. This is likely the document that you use to apply for jobs both in the UK and further afield in the rest of Europe.

What is a resume?

So, what's the deal with a resume then? You may think that these two documents are interchangeable, but that is not the case. Unlike a CV, a resume tends to be just one-page long and can take a rainbow array of formats. While CVs tend to have an unmovable set of rules, you are free to be more creative when it comes to making your resume. The main aim of the game is to make sure that you stand out from the crowd, i.e. the other candidates that are applying for the role.

Resumes tend to be more popular across the pond—in the United States and Canada. However, some UK-based jobs now require you to use this document as part of the application process. For that reason, it could be beneficial to learn how to convert your CV into a resume. The first step in this process could be understanding the core differences between the documents.

4 main differences to note

Ready to learn about the difference between a CV and resume? While the two documents do have a great deal in common and both are used for applications, they are not the same thing. When you're applying for a new role, it pays to ensure that you read the posting properly. That way, you can be sure which document will be appropriate for the application. To help you know which is which, let's take a look at four of the main differences you should know about.

1. Length of your document

Perhaps the most obvious difference between a CV and a resume is the length. As we noted before, a CV lists all of your education and work experience from the day you started high school until now. Depending on your age and how often you've hopped around the job ladder, that could be a whole load of information. Your CV may be up to three pages long, for example.

Of course, rules are made to be broken. While in the past CVs had to contain every piece of work experience you ever did, you can cut things down here. Many applicants choose to use shorter versions of their CVs that touch upon the main points of their experience. Think of it like a highlight reel of your workplace history. You can leave out your first job at Starbucks if you're applying for an account manager position at a PR firm ten years later. (Unless you want to brag about your barista skills!)

Resumes are typically one-pagers. These documents only show-off your main achievements when it comes to education and work experience. You should aim to make this document as concise as possible. Short, snappy, and easy to scan in minutes.

2. Using a profile picture

Want to add a picture to your application? If you've got a beautiful face, it's no wonder you'll want to show it off. However, knowing whether to add a photo to your document depends on which you're using. The key to remember here is that you can use a picture on your LinkedIn but you shouldn't do so on CVs or resumes. The reason is that British employers are prevented from basing their decision on someone's physical appearance. Adding a photo to your application could muddy the water.

However, if you're updating your LinkedIn and want it to stand out, you may well want to include a photo of yourself. Needless to say, this should be a professional-looking headshot. You can either get someone to take a snap of you or pay for professional ones.

3. Adding personal information

Next up, let's talk about personal information. One of the main differences between a resume and CV is the type of information that you include. Over in the United States, there are several employment discrimination laws which means that you can't include certain information. When you're writing your CV, you will naturally include your address, date of birth and nationality.

However, when writing your resume, you should leave these choice details out. Often enough, if a company needs more information from you, they will reach out to you. Avoid making a faux pas by keeping your resume details relatively light.

4. Customising your document

How your document looks matters. When you're applying for a job, you want to stand out for all the right reasons. As the age-old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If you're writing a CV, though, you need to keep things straight and simple. The information should be showcased in a clear and concise way and you want to make use of columns. This type of document needs to get the job done and show recruiters that you have the relevant education and experience.

Got some creative flair? When it comes to making a resume, you can afford to be more inventive. There are plenty of different formats you can use to highlight your skills, education and work experience. You may want to use colour sparingly or even pick a fun design that shows off your creative talents. Take the time to look into resume templates or even create your own.

The Takeaway!

Now that you know the difference between a CV and a resume, what are you waiting for? Choosing the right type of document for your application could be the key to your success. Before applying for your next role, make sure you've got things right.