Kim Mohiuddin, chief career storyteller at Movin’ On Up Résumés, compares the résumé to the curriculum vitae and offers tips for both.
Let’s start with the brief answer to the difference between a résumé and a curriculum vitae.
In the US, the difference usually distinguishes a more business-oriented document (résumé) from an academic, medical, or scientific career history (curriculum vitae).
Do they have different purposes?
Their purpose is essentially the same — to present the most important qualities of a candidate, whether for a job or for admittance to a particular academic program. Someone wanting to gain admittance to an Executive MBA program would likely need to include a résumé while a biotech fellowship candidate would likely be asked for a CV.
Ok, now details. What absolutely must be on a résumé that you won’t find on a CV? And vice versa?
Traditionally, résumés have been more marketing oriented. In addition to a factual career account, they may include striking visual elements, branding themes, and commentaries. They need to briefly explain why a hiring manager would want to meet the candidate to discuss an open role.
CVs have traditionally been lengthy, “just the facts” accounts of everything that could possibly be important to a hiring committee. These depend on the field, but could include publications, presentations, names of famous professors you’ve worked with, names of famous students you’ve mentored, etc. There is really no space limit.
It is important to note that as business and academia become more intertwined, it has become important to incorporate a marketing element in CVs. Modern CVs explain on the first page exactly why a hiring committee would want to consider you. The following pages back up those assertions.
Whether you need a résumé or a CV, look at the first page from the perspective of the reader. Would you want to meet this person for this role based on what you see? If important information is delayed until page two or more, it will likely never get read.
And how about what you should not put on each? Are there any no-nos?
Rules for what not to include are similar for each. Information about marital status, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disabilities should not be included unless they directly relate to the job at-hand.
Is there a general rule about when it’s appropriate to use one or the other?
The majority of job-seeking situations in the US require a résumé. If you need a CV, you’ll likely already know that because you are in a specialized field.
As a résumé professional with a storytelling twist, do you have a different approach to the creation of each? Can you give the DIYers out there a hint about how to approach them both creatively?
Simon Sinek aptly said, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Surveys of hiring managers prove him right, showing that cultural fit with an organization carries slightly more weight than work and academic qualifications.
There are a few ways you can quickly convey your “why.”
Consider beginning your résumé with a relevant quote from you, a famous personality, or someone who has eloquently endorsed your work.
Think of your major accomplishments as more than bullet-point statements. A C-A-R (challenge, action, result) framework can be helpful here. What challenge was the business facing? How did you approach it? What were the business results—both quantitative and qualitative. This gives readers a good sense of how you’d fit into their environment.
Can you offer any resources for those who want to give either a go themselves?
My favorite books for DIY résumés are Susan Whitcomb’s Résumé Magic and Gallery of Best Résumés edited by David Noble. The former is chock full of strategies and the latter has many samples for inspiration.
Sadly, I haven’t yet found a great resource for DIY CVs. The good news is that most people who need a CV will have access to help. Talk to the career counselor at your academic institution (even if you’ve graduated, many career offices support alumni). Also, survey colleagues who have been hired for similar positions or are in the position of hiring. People want to help and will often be happy to share strategies and samples. Just be sure to get your “why” in there—something academic and scientific types often miss out on.
Any final bits of advice for job seekers?
Once you have a compelling résumé or CV, don’t rely on online submissions. Pick up the phone and talk to contacts, research employers, participate in professional groups, set up informational interviews. Even the best résumé or CV doesn’t stand a chance in an anonymous sea of thousands.