Curriculum Vitae vs. Resumé: General Differences and Tips

The task of translating your CV into a resumé will be one of the first big challenges of your career transition, and it is in many ways emblematic of the differences between the academic and non-academic job markets. While academic jobs often demand a high level of specialization and reward a narrowly defined skillset, the non-academic job market, and the resumé, will require you to think more broadly about what your skills are and how you have developed and applied them.

CV vs. Resumé: An Overview

  • An academic CV is a credentials and accomplishments-based document designed to showcase your pedigree, relationships, publications and teaching.
  • The resumé on the other hand is a skills-based document, whose task is to demonstrate as succinctly as possible that you have the specific skills and qualities sought by the prospective employer.
  • The CV can be long, tending toward a comprehensive approach often, especially for early career academics, emphasizing  quantity over quality. A CV can go on for pages in order to demonstrate the full spectrum of your academic accomplishments, positions, awards, publications, etc.
  • A resumé is short. It should (almost) always fit on the front side of a single page (with at lest .5” margins, 10-12 pt. font) and demonstrate your essential qualifications for the position with focus and purpose throughout its different sections.

Efficiency and Focus: The secret to Resumé Writing

  • FOCUS. Because the resumé is so short, you do not need to include every aspect of your professional development or job experience but should focus heavily on items that speak to the skills, qualifications, and qualities that make you an ideal candidate for a specific position. You can learn what these specific skills are and develop a general idea of the employer’s values, priorities, and even what they want and what they wish to avoid in potential hires, by reading between the lines in the job posting and any other available documents from the employer or company.
  • BE CREATIVE. Choose the format that best allows you to showcase the skills and qualities being sought by the employer in your professional history. The resumé should typically begin with an “Education” section detailing your degrees and any relevant coursework, most recent first, and include and “Skills” or “Technical Skills” section, a simple list of languages and/or software/technical proficiencies typically placed at the bottom of the page.  But the main body of the resumé, while typically a “Professional Experience” section that lists the various positions you have held followed by concise bullet points detailing your job activities can substituted for something else -such as a projects or teaching section, or such sections can provide a supplement to the professional experience section, for instance, jobs that emphasize leadership or management might include a leadership section, etc.

When you begin to put together your resumé, you might make a general document for each particular job family you wish to pursue. Look at job postings for the specific skills sought and valued by employers in those fields, paying special attention to the language/idioms they use, and then custom tailor a resumé for each specific position.

See also our Resume Tip Sheet for further information on resumé formatting and design. Remember, you can come see our trained career counselors as many times as you wish for personalized feedback on your Resumé, other job search related documents, and anything else pertaining to your career development or job search needs. We’re here to help!