If you’re trying to land a job, you’ve probably heard the terms CV and resume.
But what are the differences between the two? And will those differences affect your chances of landing an interview?
In this guide, we are going to explain exactly what a CV and resume are, along with all of their similarities and differences… We’ve also included real-life examples of both.
So, that you will know the best approach for job search success.
CV vs Resume overview
Both a CV and a resume are written documents used during a job search, that summarise an individual’s career. The info included is normally a person’s qualifications, work experience, skills and accomplishments.
They are both sent to employers when applying for a job, with the aim of securing an interview
So, is a CV and resume the same thing? Well, not exactly.
There are some differences between the two, albeit very subtle differences, but it’s a good idea to understand what these are, nonetheless.
The main difference is that the term CV is used in the UK and Europe to describe this document, whereas those in the USA call it a resume. Though they contain a lot of similar information, resumes tend to be shorter than CVs and have slightly more complex designs and layouts.
|Countries used in||UK, Europe, Asia||US, Canada, Australia|
|Length||1-2 pages||1-2 pages (usually 1)|
|Design||Traditional, professional, clear and concise||Modern, clear and concise, some elements of graphic design|
|Photo included?||No – unless your industry requires it (e.g modelling)||Optional – but lots of professionals choose to include a photo|
What is a CV?
A CV, which stands for curriculum vitae, is a document used to apply for jobs in the UK and Europe predominantly. It is a summary of your career so far, including your employment history, qualifications, key skills and achievements.
- Purpose – Your CV acts as an introduction to recruiters/potential employers. It shows them that you are suitable for the role and should persuade them to invite you in for an interview
- Layout & design – A traditional CV clearly presents a candidate’s personal profile, skills, employment history and education. This is presented using headings, subheadings and bullet points to make it clearer and easier to read
- Length – Most recruiters agree that two pages is the ideal length for a CV. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule; those with very little experience might be better off sticking to one page. Similarly, detailed academic CVs can often be as long as three pages, explaining who you are, your skills and strengths, and your career ambitions
What to include in a CV?
In order to create an interview-winning CV, you need to know what information to include. We’ve briefly touched on this above, but you need to make sure your CV includes:
- Name and contact details – Always found at the top of your CV, you must include your full name and contact details, including your email and mobile number. You don’t need to include your full address, though your location might be helpful when looking for jobs in the local area
- Professional profile – Next up is your personal profile, which is a quick introduction that explains who you are, your key skills, experience, achievements and career goals. This is your chance to grab the recruiter’s attention, so it needs to be persuasive and engaging without being too long – three to four sentences should be enough
- Core skills – Make it easy for the employer to see you’ve got what it takes by using bullet points to outline up to 10 of your key hard and soft skills. Make sure these are relevant to the job role
- Work experience – Your work experience section should outline your most recent or relevant positions. You can include a brief summary of your role, then use bullet points to highlight your key achievements and responsibilities, and quantify these where possible
- Education – Your education section should detail your time in education, including any GCSEs, A-Levels, degrees, etc. You can also include any vocational or industry-relevant qualifications you’ve gained to
- Hobbies and interests – Finally, the hobbies and interests section is optional, depending on how much space you have. However, this can be a great way to bolster your CV if you don’t have much experience or your hobbies are particularly relevant to the role.
This is an example of a typical CV used in the UK or European job markets.
Tips for writing a CV
When it comes to writing your CV, there are several things you can do to ensure success. Some of our top CV writing tips include:
- Head with a strong profile – Start with a strong and engaging personal profile that encourages the recruiter/employer to read on
- Tailor to target jobs – Make use of the job description by re-reading it and highlighting any of the key skills, qualifications or experience you possess. You can then use these keywords throughout your CV. This helps the reader to quickly see that you’re a good fit for the role
- Keep it concise – Keep each section as short and sweet as possible. You need to avoid any waffle or irrelevant information that may take up precious space
- Avoid cliches – Try to avoid cliches and over-used phrases like “dynamic team player” because they don’t tell the reader anything factual about you. Instead, focus on tangible skills and knoledge that will capture their attention and engage the reader
What is a resume?
A resume is a formal document used by job seekers to give an overview of their objectives, qualifications, skills and experience, mainly used in the USA
- Purpose – The purpose of a resume is to give a potential employer a feel for your past experience, key skills and qualifications, and land you an interview with them
- Layout & design – A typical resume presents a candidate’s career summary or objectives, key skills, employment history and education. This is broken down into sections using headings, subheadings and bullet points for clarity
- Length – Resumes tend to be shorter than CVs at one page long. However, for those with more work experience to shout about or for an academic resume, two pages is also acceptable
What to include in a resume?
Understanding what to include on your resume means you can keep your document as short, sweet and relevant as possible. Just be sure to include:
- Name and contact details – You must start your resume with your contact details. At the top of the page, you should include your full name, email address, mobile number and location
- Photograph – Many resumes in the USA and Australia will contain a photograph at the top because photos are more commonly used in those countries, and even sometimes expected. However, it is ultimately up to you if you choose to include a photo of yourself or not.
- Summary or objective – Next, you should include a short and snappy career summary outlining your key achievements, experience and skills. However, if you don’t have much career progress to speak of, then you can set out some of your career objectives instead. Again, be sure to keep this short and sweet
- Skills and competencies – The skills section should be a list of your top skills and competencies, particularly those outlined in the job description. You can use bullet points to break these up or graphic design elements to showcase these in a more eye-catching way
- Work experience – Your work experience section should be a list of your most recent and relevant jobs, starting with your current position (if you have one, that is). You should give a brief description of the company and what it does before adding some bullet points about your role and responsibilities within the company
- Education – Your education section should be a reverse-chronological list of your qualifications and the schools you attended. You can also take this opportunity to include any honours or awards you’ve been given.
Tips for writing a resume
In order to help you create a clear, concise and engaging resume, we’ve pulled together some of our top resume writing tips. These are:
- Think about what you’re including. Your resume shouldn’t be a list of everything you’ve ever done; you need to be selective about the information you choose to include
- Think like an employer – what do they want to know about you? Use the job description to ensure you highlight the most important and relevant skills, experience, etc.
- Keep design simple – A unique design can be a great way to attract attention, but just make sure it isn’t overwhelming or confusing. This includes choosing an easy-to-read font and not presenting the recruiter with a wall of text. Rather, you need to break it down into engaging sections that are easier to digest
- Use facts and figures – Wherever possible, you should demonstrate your achievements and results with numbers and metrics (e.g. Negotiated a 10% saving with suppliers)
This is a typical example of a resume used in the US job market.
CV vs resume in the USA
There is one last point worth addressing before we come to the end of this guide, and that is this. The word CV is not exclusive to the UK and EU; in the US, you may sometimes see a recruiter or professional make reference to a CV as well.
However, in the US, a CV refers to an academic resume which is typically a lot longer and more detailed than a traditional resume. In fact, it can be upwards of three pages in length.
An academic CV of this nature will typically include information about a candidate’s studies, achievements, research papers, awards and any work they’ve have published. It might also detail any teaching experience they have had, as well as any grants, fellowships or funding they have been granted in the past.
As you can see from the breakdowns above, there are a lot of similarities between a CV and a resume, but it’s always helpful to understand the smaller differences too. Although the basic contents are the same, resumes tend to be shorter; therefore, they require less information than a CV.
Not only this, but resumes can be a bit more fun in terms of design, whereas CVs tend to stick to more traditional formats and layouts.
Though most people will be referring to the same thing when they say CV or resume, it’s always helpful to understand the differences, and the overall purpose of these documents.
Understanding the different formats and content can also be very useful for professionals that plan to relocate or work abroad, helping to create a document that reflects the local standards.