Do you know the differences between a curriculum vitae (CV) and a resume? While a resume is a compact, usually one page long ad for you as an employee, a CV is a significantly longer document that describes you as an academic, teacher, researcher, or medical professional. While the average resume only receives a 20-second scan, you can expect your curriculum vitae to be read more carefully. After all, your future employer or school could have just asked you for a resume—if they ask you for a CV, they want to know more.
The following table covers some of the main differences between a resume and curriculum vitae. Keep in mind that the concept of what a curriculum vitae should be varies from county to country. In this article, we’ll mostly focus on how the CV works in the United States.
|Generally 1 page, 2 or 3 max||Often starts at 3 pages, 20 pages not unheard of!|
|Used for most types of jobs/volunteer positions||Used for academia, teaching, research, medicine|
|Popular in the United States and Canada||Popular in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia|
|Work experience before education, usually||Education before experience|
|Name-dropping rare unless you’ve worked with very well-known people||Name-dropping encouraged|
|Chronological, functional, and combination styles||Virtually always chronological format|
|A handful of broad categories to organize info||Many narrower categories to organize info|
|Bullet points very common||Bullet points less common|
What do the resume and CV have in common? For one, they should both be customized for the position trying to get. Attempting to write a one-size-fits all CV is as bad as forcing out a one-size-fits-all resume.
Here are other things the resume and curriculum vitae have in common:
- Contact information required
- Simple, attractive formatting
- Short, clipped phrases
- Concise descriptions
- Positive presentation of applicant
- Parallel structure
- Greater emphasis on information presented first
- Professionalism expected
So, the CV is the resume’s academically-inclined cousin. This is all pretty interesting, but how do you actually write a CV? The following tips should be consulted for basic guidance:
1. Write your name at the top—make it prominent!
Like your resume, your CV should be all about you, so make your name catch the viewer’s attention.
2. Next, insert your contact information.
You’ll need your full address, one or two phone numbers, and a professional-looking e-mail address.
3. Start off strong with your “Education” section.
Starting with a skills summary may be helpful for some people, but the traditional way to start a curriculum vitae is by cutting straight to your education. After all, if you need to write a CV, you already have some type of advanced education that’s relevant to the position you want.
Use reverse chronological order. Provide the name of the school or schools you attended, along with the corresponding city and state—or foreign country. Be sure to include the full name of the degree you’ve earned or are working toward. Many of the guidelines for how to write a resume with a good education section also apply here, except that you want to go into more detail.
4. If you’ve written a formal thesis at some point, mention that next.
If you have a Master’s or Ph.D, this definitely applies to you. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, you may also have written a formal thesis during your college career, perhaps to complete the requirements of an Honors program. Be sure to include the full title of your thesis. It’s also a good idea to include the name of the faculty adviser who helped you with your thesis.
5. Add fellowships and awards.
This is the place to include fellowships or awards you’ve earned. Obviously, focus on those relevant to academia, research, teaching, or medicine.
6. Write down your areas of specialization.
If you’re applying for a teaching or research position, the viewer will want to know what exactly you’re familiar with. This section may be known as “Prepared to Teach” for educators or “Areas of Research Interest” for researchers. Don’t be vague, but keep these areas fairly broad to avoid boxing yourself in.
7. Provide details about your teaching experience, research experience, or both.
If the job you’re applying for focuses more on research, mention your research experience first. If it focuses more on teaching, place your teaching experience first.
8. Include your publications and/or presentations.
This is the place to mention posters, published academic articles, and related research goodies. Again, write out full titles, even if they’re long.
9. Mention works in progress.
You can mention academic projects you haven’t completed yet here.
10. Incorporate your related professional experience.
This section can roughly equate to the “experience” section on a resume. Thus, some of the advice you hear about resume writing can come in handy here. As usual, company names and locations are important.
Keep in mind that while the jobs mentioned on your resume don’t have to directly relate to the position you’re applying for, it’s expected that the positions in this section of your curriculum vitae will in some way relate to academia. If you want to include positions that don’t fit this niche, you may want to just list them without going into detail.
11. Mention foreign languages you know.
You may want to mention foreign languages you know, along with your level of proficiency in those languages. Possible descriptions include beginner, intermediate, proficient, fluent, and native.
12. Put down other relevant information, if it relates to the position at hand.
You can mention scholarly or professional associations you’re a member of, study abroad trips, relevant personal interests, or travel experiences. Since tourist travel and hobbies aren’t exactly academic, you may not want to mention them unless they’re clearly related to the position at hand. There’s nothing wrong with leaving this section out.
13. List references.
It’s appropriate to include references either with the rest of your CV or on a new page. Again, focus on scholarly references. Academia is a fairly small world and experts in the same field tend to know each other, at least by name.
14. End with with your dissertation abstract.
You can include a brief abstract of your dissertation at the end of your curriculum vitae.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Remember that you don’t have to include every section of your CV listed above. These are just many of the commonly included sections recommended by MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as well as other colleges and universities. If a section doesn’t apply to you or the position at hand, don’t include it. The order the sections were listed was also suggested by MIT’s Global Education & Career Development Center. You should customize the order to match your skills and the specifics of the position you want.
So, these are the most important differences between a curriculum vitae and a resume, along with tips for writing your own curriculum vitae. As usual, we’re just offering serving suggestions. A well-written CV is as unique as you are.
In this economy, it’s hard to find a job even with the best resume. Make sure you’re not stacking the odds against yourself by making common resume mistakes. Following these 10 warnings can save your resume from ending up in the “circular file” – more commonly known as the trash can.
1. Don’t try to write a one-size-fits-all resume.
Do you like getting spam in your inbox? No? Do you delete e-mails as soon as you figure out that the exact same message has been sent to hundreds of other people and contains nothing that personally interests you?
Well, hiring managers are just like you. They ignore spam. If you’re shooting off the same resume and generic cover letter to every help wanted ad, you’re spamming. And if you’re not going to put effort into your first contact with an employer, why would they expect you to put effort into your work as an employee?
Instead, practice customizing your resume for each position. If you have no idea which type of position you want to apply for, it’s time to do some market research. You can start by checking out Monster or Craigslist, or finding a job search engine specific to your industry or career objectives. Practice identifying what each employer is looking for and including those same keywords in your resume and cover letter.
2. Don’t put “Resume” at the top of your resume.
This isn’t a deadly resume mistake, but it is a waste of space. Would you title your autobiography Book? OK, so a resume isn’t an autobiography, but the point is, it should be obvious at a glance that the document you’re presenting is a resume.
3. Don’t use an e-mail address that reflects an unprofessional image.
If you were a hiring manager, you probably wouldn’t hire sexigurl3872 or crzyguy777. If you don’t have a professional e-mail address, make one now. Gmail is a popular option. Try some combination of your first, middle, and last name, with as few numbers as possible.
4. Don’t include Twitter information unless it’s for a professional networking or other business-related account.
Twitter can be a useful tool for professional networking, but that’s not how most people use it. If you do have a conservatively-named Twitter account that you use solely for business, you may want to include it, but leave off personal accounts.
5. Don’t include a generic objective.
This is a common resume mistake. If you ask us, it’s best not to include a resume objective at all. If everyone were completely straightforward and honest, here’s what everyone’s objective would look like: “To obtain the job I’m applying for.” Instead of writing an objective that’s all about what you want, think about what kind of person the hiring manager wants to find, and how you can meet their needs. Then, include this information in a resume summary instead.
6. Don’t include salary information.
This is in poor taste. Besides, if an employer really wants to know, they’ll ask.
7. Don’t include references on your resume.
The hiring manager will assume you have at least three references available, so it’s a mistake to waste valuable space dropping names on your resume. If you need to fill up white space, for example, on a student resume, you can write “references available upon request” at the bottom. This should be centered and in italics. You should always bring a list of references to the interview anyway.
8. Don’t include religious or political affiliations – unless you can do it discreetly.
The problem with including religious or political affiliations is that they can open you up to discrimination. This can get tricky when it comes to civic leadership or community service roles. If you volunteer for a religious entity, such as a church, the hiring manager might assume you’re a member of the associated religion. The same is true for positions related to politics.
If you want to include these anyway, you can try being intentionally vague. For example, if you volunteered as an editor to help an activist group bring in funds, you could say “Edited a proposal that earned a $_ private grant.” You may also be able to get away with abbreviations, although using abbreviations is usually considered unprofessional. Basically, only present this information if you can do it in a way that will not be controversial.
9. Don’t write why you left your previous jobs.
This is a resume mistake because it’s TMI – too much information! Again, if they really want to know, they’ll ask. Keep in mind you don’t have to include every job you’ve ever had on your resume anyway.
10. Don’t make your resume longer than it needs to be.
A one-page resume isn’t mandatory, but it is enough for most job seekers. Remember, your resume is an advertisement for you. You can crop out information that isn’t relevant to the job you’re applying for. High school students, college students, recent graduates, and other entry-level employees should all have a one page resume.
Now, if you’ve had an especially long and varied career, a two-page resume may be right for you. Three pages is generally regarded as the maximum, usually used when applying for special positions. Just be aware that the average employer spends 20 seconds reviewing your resume for the first time. How many pages can you read in 20 seconds?
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, we offer a resume and career workshop that can help you craft the perfect resume for you and your career goals. Also, keep in mind that one resume mistake won’t necessarily doom you. But, if you’re serious about finding a job, it’s worth it to present the most professional resume you can. Your competition will.
Every job seeker needs a resume. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for part-time work, interested in volunteer jobs, or still in high school. Learning how to write a resume will help you. It’s an advertizement that should be designed to get you an interview. Even the process of writing a resume helps you clarify your career plans, strengths, weaknesses, and skills.
But what if you’re not sure how to write a resume? While each person’s resume must be unique, the following 7 strategies should be useful:
1. Put your name at the top and make it stand out.
Your resume is an advertizement for you, so your name should be the most noticeable thing on the page. You can pump up the font size, bold it, or center it; just make the hiring manager’s eye lands there first.
2. Include your contact information.
Your resume needs to include your contact information at the top. Write your full address, including the street, city, state or country, and zip code. If you have a local address, such as a dorm room, and a permanent address, such as your family home, you may want to include both. One attractive way to do this is to put one address on the left side and the other on the right.
Then, include one or two phone numbers you know will be answered between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. It’s fine if an answering machine picks up, as long as you check the messages. Cell phone numbers are fine. Be sure to include the area code. Next, include an e-mail address that you check frequently. Make sure it reflects a professional image. If you have a website, blog, or LinkedIn account that is used for business purposes, you can include the link.
3. Try starting the body of your resume with a summary.
Your summary should give an overview of the skills and qualifications you have that are relevant to the job for which you’re applying. To steal a line from former President John F. Kennedy, ask not what your future employer can do for you; ask what you can do for your future employer.
The answer should come in several compact sentences that zero in on your most marketable accomplishments, qualities, and abilities. Here’s an example that Lorain County Community College uses when teaching students to how to write a resume that includes a resume summary:
Highly motivated Technical Support professional. Strong verbal, listening and written skills. Comfortable in interacting with all levels of the organization and public. Able to negotiate and problem solve quickly, accurately, and efficiently. Adept at multitasking to achieve individual and team goals. Diverse background includes sales, customer service and supervision. Committed to quality and excellence.
This summary works because it shows the hiring manager what they can expect if they hire this support professional. You can still write a resume summary if you have no experience; it will just focus more on your natural abilities, education, and perhaps volunteerism.
4. If you’re writing a functional or combination resume, add the “Skills and Career Accomplishments” section next.
A functional resume highlights your attributes without including a list of companies you worked for or dates of employment. It can be a good choice for career changers or people returning to the workforce. A combination resume is a hybrid of a chronological resume and functional resume.
Either way, this section is similar to the summary section. You need to advertize the results of your efforts in past positions and tell what you’re particularly good at doing. Let your future employer know what you can offer them and how your experience and talents could benefit their company.
Use bullet points and place the skills or achievements the hiring manager will be most impressed by toward the top.
5. The “Experience” section usually comes next.
In a chronological resume, your experience usually comes after your summary. In a combination resume, it often comes after the “Skills and Accomplishments” section. If you’re writing a purely functional resume, this section isn’t needed.
If you’ve had an internship, served in the armed forces, or volunteered somewhere, you can include that. Just be sure to title this section “Experience” or “Professional Experience” and not “Work History” or “Employment.” That way, you aren’t misleading the hiring manager.
There are a few situations in which your education would come before your experience. The exceptions are if you…
- Just earned or are working toward a degree in a new field and that degree makes you more qualified for the job than your professional experience
- Are an undergraduate student
- Are a lawyer
- Just earned a prestigious degree from a top college or university, like a Ph.D. from Yale
In this section, list your positions in reverse chronological order. Focus on the jobs most applicable to the position you’re applying for, or the most recent. When thinking of your work history, are your job titles impressive, or are the names of the companies you’ve worked for more impressive? Pick whichever makes you look better and consistently start each listed job with it. Next, include the location of the company. This should be a city and state, or city and country, for foreign jobs. Finally, write the dates you worked in italic font at the end. You can use just years or years and months.
If you’re writing a chronological resume, jobs should be followed by a bulleted list of either your duties or, if possible, accomplishments at each position. Whenever you can, quantify your accomplishments.
Here’s an example Scripps College uses when teaching students how to write a resume that includes accomplishment statements:
Created and implemented a new mentoring program with 80% participation of residents.
That statement will catch the hiring manager’s eye because it proves the applicant did a great job. If you’re writing a combination resume, you may not need bulleted descriptions, if you were able to summarize your achievements in the “Skills and Career Accomplishments” section.
6. Always include an “Education” section.
Like your “Experience” section, your education should be listed in reverse chronological order. Degrees and licenses come first, then certificates or advanced training. Whatever is most impressive can go in bold. You should give the name of the school and the city and state—or foreign country—where the institution is located. Unless you graduated recently, you don’t need to put more than your major, distinctions or awards, and possibly minor. You can include the date you earned the degree, study abroad experiences, and relevant courses taken. You can include your GPA if it’s at least a 3.0.
7. Add sections for professional affiliations, awards, civic leadership, or anything else that would impress the hiring manager.
Remember, your resume isn’t your life story, it’s an ad. Include what the hiring manager wants to see. If you’ve won an Employee of the Year award or something similar, include that. If you’ve only won academic awards, add them to your “Education” section. Focus on professional affiliations that are up-to-date, related to the job, and prestigious. Also mention any leadership roles in your community that are relevant to the position.
This is a general road map for how to write a resume that’s one or two pages long. Your resume should be customized to advertize you in the most appealing way possible for each particular position. You’re an interesting person, so write an interesting resume!
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, prohibits the discrimination of people with disabilities in the workplace. As part of this policy, the ADA requires that workers with disabilities receive reasonable accommodations on the job. Most employers in the United States must act in accordance with the ADA. If you have a disability, you can make sure you receive the accommodations you deserve by declaring your disability to an employer.
For example, let’s say your disability is low vision. You’re not exactly blind, but your vision is very poor, even with the best glasses or contact lenses. You can’t drive, but you walk around without assistance or special equipment, so many people don’t realize you have a disability. You decide to go online and apply for an office job. You’re able to read the application on your computer in a large font and go about the interview process normally. However, it would still benefit you to declare your disability when you receive a job offer.
In most cases, when you’re offered a job, your employer should be able to provide you with a list of essential job functions you need to be able to complete to successfully handle your work. These can include sitting for long periods of time, frequently using the telephone to interact with customers, and completing written instructions. After reviewing these, you need to be able to tell your potential employer whether you can perform these functions. If you can’t perform them, even with accommodations, you aren’t qualified for that job. If you would be able to perform them with accommodations, this is your chance to suggest some reasonable changes that could be made for you.
For example, you can say you’ll need written work orders and all other documents in large type so you can read them, because you have low vision. You don’t need to name your exact diagnosis, although you can. If they choose, the employer is allowed to ask for proof that you’re disabled, such as a doctor’s letter for physical conditions or a psychological report for mental conditions. The documentation should have a description of your disability, recommendations for work activities, and the condition’s effect on major life activities.
The employer now must provide this accommodation, unless it would cause them “undue hardship.” This can be claimed if providing the accommodation would significantly affect the company financially or if it would change the way the business functions. Undue hardship can also be claimed if you later interact inappropriately with fellow employees, even if you do so because of your disability.
If the employer thinks there may be an issue with your accommodations, this is their chance to let you know. Providing documents in large type or purchasing a keyboard with extra-large symbols should be considered reasonable accommodations. Once you are hired, you may feel more secure knowing that the employer already agreed to provide you with reasonable accommodations, and that you were honest about your needs.
Here are some answers to common questions about declaring a disability:
Does everyone have to provide accommodations to people with disabilities?
No, the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t cover some entities. These include small businesses with fewer than 15 workers, private membership clubs, churches or religious schools, and Native American reservations.
Can I declare a disability before I get a job offer?
Yes, you can also declare a disability during the application process or interview process. However, there are issues to consider here. Generally, it’s not a good idea to provide more information than what is asked for on job applications. Declaring your disability during the application process or interview might also give the impression that you’re preoccupied with your condition. However, if you can’t complete the application or interview process without reasonable accommodations, you should mention your disability early. Unfortunately, if you declare your disability this early, the employer could discriminate against you while claiming they didn’t hire you for other reasons, and it would be difficult to prove they had done anything wrong.
Can I declare my disability after I’ve begun working?
Yes, you can declare your disability once you’ve already begun working, but your employer may feel suspicious or confused as to why you didn’t tell them sooner. While this may be a way to avoid discrimination during the hiring process, it doesn’t establish a trusting relationship with your employer. If the employer doesn’t end up providing you with reasonable accommodations, it could also make it harder for you to hold them responsible. Of course, if you develop a disability after you begin working, this may be your best option.
Do I have to declare my disability?
No, the ADA says you aren’t required to declare your disability. This applies to people with noticeable disabilities as well, such as those who are blind or use wheelchairs. However, until you disclose your disability to the appropriate person, such as a supervisor, your company is under no obligation to provide you with accommodations.
Can I declare more than one disability?
Yes, if you have multiple disabilities, you can declare as many of them as you want. You may be asked to prove you have all of them. Your employer should provide reasonable accommodations for each of your conditions.
Basically, the Americans with Disabilities Act was written to make sure people with disabilities are treated fairly. To ensure that you’re treated fairly in the workplace, you should consider declaring your disability to an employer. You can do so at any time, although declaring your disability after you receive a job offer is often considered the most appropriate. Remember, you are not required to declare your disability, although there are many advantages to doing so. The ADA puts you in control.
You’ve been out of work for a long time. Months, years, or even decades. Maybe the recession hit your industry particularly hard. Perhaps you took time off to raise children or care for a sick family member. Or, maybe you became discouraged at some point and threw in the towel. Whatever your situation, you can break back into the job market. It just takes planning and flexibility. This article offers strategies for making a long gap in employment look better on your resume and cover letter.
1. Focus on what you have been doing.
Unless you’ve been in a coma, you’ve been doing something all these years. If the way you’ve been spending your time might be relevant to employers, you can include it on you resume.
Have you updated old professional certifications or earned new ones? How about taking classes at a community college? If you’ve been raising children, have you been helping on the school board or participating as a PTA officer? How about leading a Boy or Girl Scout troop? Have you done any volunteering in your community, even if it was short-term? If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you have something to fill up the white space on your resume.
Job seekers with more than two certifications can move these to a separate section. Those with two or fewer can place them in an “Education and Certification” section, which should also include any college experience or degrees you’re earned. If you took college classes, but didn’t earn a degree, you can still mention this in the “Education and Certification” section, as long as you write that you “pursued” a degree or “worked toward” a degree. Don’t imply you graduated if you didn’t. If a high school diploma is the highest level of education you’ve attained and you have no training relevant to the job you’re applying to, you can list that instead, but you probably want to move it to the bottom, since it isn’t recent.
Volunteer experiences certainly count, since many of them teach things that are transferable to paid positions, such as teamwork, adaptability, and communication skills. Most types of volunteer experiences can follow the format your resume uses for work experience. On a traditional resume, volunteer experience is often found in a “volunteer experience” section. On a functional resume, which we’ll discuss next, volunteer roles can be blended in with other skills and knowledge.
While you may have just been known as a “volunteer,” listing “volunteer” as your title doesn’t tell the hiring manager much about what you actually did. So, if you’re using a traditional resume format, come up with an accurate title to describe your role. For example, if you were a PTA officer at your child’s school, you can write “Volunteer Parent-Teacher Association Officer.” Just make sure the title you give is informative.
2. Consider using a functional resume or combination format.
The traditional resume format, known as the chronological resume, tends to work best for traditional applicants. When you picture a typical resume, with a list of company names, cities, dates of employment, titles, and job duties or accomplishments, you’re thinking of a chronological resume. It’s meant to showcase your work history. But, if you have a long gap in employment, you may want to draw attention away from your work history.
A functional resume format can make this easier. This type of resume includes your education, certificates or licenses, career skills or knowledge, and career achievements, but not a list of companies you worked for or dates of employment. When you use a functional resume, you can draw attention away from an unusual career path, highlight what you already know, and cover up employment gaps in an honest way.
However, the functional resume also has disadvantages. Hiring managers may feel confused or suspicious when they see this format, since it doesn’t give them the information they’re looking for right away. The majority of Internet job websites don’t accept this format, and they aren’t popular with recruiters. Traditional industries, such as banking, accounting, and law, are often more interested in traditional resumes.
So, if you decide to use a functional resume, you may want to write a chronological resume as a back-up, or combine the best of both types. We can help you learn how to write a resume in a functional, traditional, or combination style.
3. Use your cover letter to briefly explain the gaps in employment.
It’s possible you’ve been busy these past years, but haven’t done much that translates into the workplace. This can include being a full-time homemaker, caring for aging parents, or working on personal projects unrelated to the business world. If this is the case, a few sentences or a short paragraph on your cover letter can help the hiring manager decipher the gap. If you haven’t been sending a cover letter with each resume, now is the time to start.
Don’t go into too much detail and don’t offer excuses. The hiring manager isn’t interested in your personal life. In fact, they could be sued if they asked you personal questions. Just give them enough information to explain the absence, try to put an appealing spin on your experience away from the job market, then move on. Your cover letter is an advertizement for you as an employee, so keep it to-the-point, upbeat, and professional.
What the above strategies have in common is that they present your time away from the workforce in a positive light. None of them involve lying to or misleading your employers. Instead, they showcase your ability to adapt to new situations and market yourself effectively. Those are two skills that will interest employers.