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Resume vs. CV - What’s the Difference?

Resume vs. CV - What’s the Difference?

Donna Cardillo, RN, BS / Verticalnet, Inc.

Although many people use the terms “resume” and “CV” (curriculum vitae) interchangeably, they’re actually two different types of documents, each with its own distinct focus. Knowing the right format and use for each will save time and trouble (not to mention worry) with your future job pursuits.

A resume is the 1-2 page career summary that most of us are familiar with. It summarizes work experience, accomplishments, education and other pertinent topics such as professional associations and special skills. The resume is what is most universally used and expected by prospective employers (See Frequently Asked Questions About Resumes and Keywords Are Key To Getting Your Online Resume Read.)

A curriculum vitae, or CV, on the other hand, is a longer, more comprehensive document. It’s usually multiple pages long and gets into much more detail, including a listing of publications, presentations, research projects, academic work, teaching experience, and so forth. A CV is generally used in PhD-driven environments, such as academia and higher level research. It attests to expertise and authority.

Does that mean that if you’ve had articles published or done some speaking or teaching that you should use a CV rather than a resume? Not necessarily. The format you use is determined more by the type of job you’re applying for than your credentials.

Not only doesn’t the average nurse need a CV, but it can be a hindrance in a normal job search. Even if you have had some articles published and made some formal presentations, you can still summarize them under headings such as Selected Presentations or Selected Publications. Then just list those that are most recent, significant, and relevant. Keep in mind that the purpose of a resume is to summarize your accomplishments, not to be a laundry list of everything you ever did.

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