A Curricula Vitae, most commonly known in the United States as a CV, is a form of documentation that encompasses a wide variety of professional and academic experiences. Although CVs and resumes share many similarities, they should not be used interchangeably. The most important consideration in the CV vs. resume debate is the type of job you are applying for.
While resumes are widely recommended if you have relatively limited career experience, CVs are preferable if you plan to apply for jobs in academia or possess a wide array of relevant skills and experiences that would not typically be included in a resume. The first step in determining whether to use a CV vs. resume is to determine if a resume satisfies the requirements for your job application. It is best to avoid using a CV when a resume will do, especially when applying for an entry-level position. Most employers are familiar with resumes and expect all entry-level candidates to submit a single-page resume. The major exception to this unspoken rule is for positions within academia. Even an entry-level candidate for an academic position can be expected to submit a CV of three pages or more.
The major difference between a CV vs. resume is length. CVs can be as short as three pages or as long as ten, depending on your career and academic experience. While the goal of a resume is to present only the most crucial work experiences of your career, the goal of CV formatting is to include all significant academic, professional, and personal experiences that show your potential employer what you will bring to the table. CVs are often referred to as "living resumes," because they allow you to give potential employers a glimpse into the experiences that have shaped you as a person, including professional and scientific memberships, community service, hobbies and unique skills, and past academic courses.
Ease of formatting is another major aspect of the CV vs. resume debate. It is important to remember that there are still rules for CV formatting, and that resumes still offer considerable flexibility. There are two major types of resume formatting, including functional and chronological. Chronological resumes allow you to present an exact timeline of experiences, while functional resumes offer more freedom if you have significant gaps between employed periods. The CV vs. resume formatting comparison is weighed clearly in favor of CVs, but they still require significant planning. The wide page range may seem appealing, but it is important to resist the temptation to pad your CV with experiences that don’t truly affect your eligibility as a job applicant. However, a CV is a great option if your career experience has been unconventional and you need a way to show potential employers a more holistic look at who you are rather than the limited experiences that can be displayed on a resume.
If you choose to apply to academic jobs, especially those in research, a CV is almost always your best bet. The CV vs. resume decision is one that every job applicant will face, and in many cases it truly is a matter of what works best to sell yourself as an employee.
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