When Should You Ask for a Resume, and When a CV?

For many in the recruitment world, resumes and curriculum vitaes (CVs) are by and large interchangeable. They are both part of the job application process. They are both designed for applicants to share their best achievements. They both contain a work history, an educational history, etc. In some cases, they may even literally be considered the same document by hiring managers. But CVs and resumes are technically different types of documents, and in some

But CVs and resumes are technically different types of documents, and in some cases it may be in your best interests to ask specifically for one type of application over the other.

The Differences Between Resumes and CVs

In the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world, resumes and CVs refer to very different documents. But here in Australia, the two have no different meaning. Any time a job is open that is asking for a CV, they are also asking for a resume and vice versa. It is largely considered to be semantics. Yet technically they are slightly different types of documents. There are two primary differences between these two types of documents. The first is

Yet technically they are slightly different types of documents. There are two primary differences between these two types of documents. The first is length. CVs tend to be quite a bit longer than resumes, and are not limited to the “1-page rule” that many people consider the gold standard for resumes – especially internationally. CVs are often 1.5 or more pages in length, and have no such limitations.

But resumes also tend to only have three main sections:

  • Professional Summary/Objective Statement
  • Education
  • Work History
  • References (Optional)

CVs, on the other hand, include a variety of additional sections:

  • Publications and Presentations
  • Awards and Honours
  • Professional or Scholarly Memberships
  • References (Almost Always Included)

There may even be an “Areas of Interest” section in select cases. These sections are what push the CV well past a single page. They also provide more detail than resumes, although that detail is largely added to the additional sections. The work history sections tend to be fairly similar.

Still, these differences are mostly based on the origin of the two terms. These days there is almost no difference between them. Most people filling out a “CV” are really just filling out what used to be a traditional resume. Only those applying for jobs on academia tend to complete actual CVs.

So if There is No Difference – Which Do You Ask For?

Since there is no difference between them, it doesn’t necessarily matter which one you ask for in your job advertisement. The exception is jobs in the educational field, where a CV provides you with the amount of information you need to thoroughly vet a candidate.

That said, there are still scenarios where it may be better to ask for one or the other.

These include situations such as:

  • International Jobs – If you’re posting a job that is for an international audience (such as a tech job where you are willing to accept someone from the UK, or the US), it may be better to ask for a resume. Internationally, companies that ask for CVs are often looking specifically for the traditional CV, which is something that some international applicants may not be that familiar with.
  • Executive Jobs – By the time someone reaches executive level, chances are they have some idea of how to create a resume/CV. But if you must guide them, a CV may be more appropriate to request, because anyone hiring a high level position within the company should probably turn in a considerable amount of information to make the hiring decision easier.
  • Entry Level Jobs – If you are opening up a position and are accepting recent graduates and younger job seekers, it may be better to ask for a resume. Many are creating these applications for only the first or second time and may be researching how to create these documents online. Requesting a resume specifically can help them avoid confusion.

There are also some experts that argue that it may be better to ask for a resume because the term “CV” has become closer to obsolete, and may indicate that you are too formal for qualified applicants looking for a relaxed environment. But that is probably not going to be a significant issue.

Overall, at least here in Australia, CVs and resumes are by and large the same document, with the same information, and asking for one or the other is really more of a preference. But if you want to be a bit kinder to your applicants, it may be better to ask for a resume for all jobs where a true, traditional CV would be inappropriate, simply to make the process a bit easier.

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