From CV to Resumé

The task of translating the CV into a resumé will be one of the first big challenges in a non-academic job search, an activity that is in many ways emblematic of the differences between the academic and non/alt- academic job markets. While academic jobs often demand a high level of specialization and reward a narrowly defined skill-set, the non-academic job market will require you to think more broadly about your activities and experience, especially what your skills are and how you have developed and applied them throughout your degree. Knowing how to ask important questions based on a current lack or need, designing a research plan, and presenting your evidence based conclusions cogently and persuasively within a limited time-frame are all valuable project management skills that will appeal to employers. We have provided a list of Marketable Skills that can help you get started right away; the overview below is meant to give a general orientation to the major differences in format, design, and focus between the CV and the Resumé.

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 essential skills and qualities sought by the prospective employer. It should usually fit on the front side of a single page (.5” margins, 10-12 pt. font) and demonstrate your essential qualifications for the position with focus and purpose throughout its different sections.

When you begin to put together your resumé, you might make a general document for each particular job family you are pursuing. 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.

Because the resumé is short, focus on items that speak to the skills, qualifications, and qualities that make you an ideal candidate for the job. You do have leeway in how you frame the contents into different sections. For instance, while a typical resumé consists of an Education section up top detailing your degrees, followed by a Professional/Work Experience section, and ends with Skills (usually a list of languages and/or software/technical proficiencies), if that format doesn’t demonstrate your skills and qualities, you might add or replace the work experience section with a projects section, that lists specific projects you have undertaken with bullet points that illustrate the specific skills you used.

The job posting and any other materials provided by the employer can speak volumes about what they are looking for; don’t be afraid to consider this and incorporate some of that perspective and language directly into your resumé – the document should be designed to speak to the employer in this way. In summary, highlight skills and qualities pertinent to the job while giving an accurate picture of yourself. The goal is to get an interview, so eliminating some details might be necessary.

See our Resume Tip Sheet for more detailed information on resumé formatting and design.

To help, we have collected a number of sample Resumés for you to consult as you go through the translation process. We also encourage you to come see one of our trained career counselors for personalized feedback on your CV, Resumé, or cover letter, and any other challenges or questions that may arise along the way.