23 June 2020

Is there a difference between a Resume and CV?

As a UK Technical Writer who has worked for various American companies, I'm well versed in the variances between UK and US English. I've lost count of the conversations I've heard about whether to spell it "enrol" with one or two Ls, or whether dialog should have a "ue" on the end. So when it comes to whether I call my Curriculum Vitae a "CV" or "Resume", it depends on the audience I'm speaking to.

Curriculum Vitae means quite literally "course of life". In the professional context, it should include anything relevant to the job you're after. For example, educational qualifications, awards, previous employment, achievements. There's little debate about that, but what level of detail should this include? Various online definitions don't help, with mentions of "summary" or "detail" depending on which one you look at.

In my mind at least, there is no difference between a CV and a resume. They are one and the same thing. The nouns are just another example of localisation, sorry localization :-) But a conversation held as part of today's #TechCommTea meetup shed new light on this grossly incorrect assertion.

In India job applicants are increasingly asked to provide a Resume when applying for jobs. This mirrors many of the characteristics folk in Europe and the US recognise / recognize as their CV / Resume. In effect a two page summary of the professional journey and expertise.

Anyone who's written their CV / Resume can testify that keeping the content to two pages can be difficult, especially if you've had several jobs. After all you want to ensure you include all your achievements from each position, and using a smaller font isn't the panacea you crave. 

So what is the answer?

In India at least, the answer is to have a Resume and CV. The resume is the summary of your experience and skill set, should not be more than two pages, and is what is submitted with your application. If successful, you are then asked for your CV. This is a much more detailed document, often including the projects you worked on and tools used at each of your previous employers.

This two tier form of Resume / CV is also part of a very different recruitment process. Whilst most employers in the US and Europe wouldn't normally expect a candidate to attend more than three interviews, it is common in India for candidates to frequently attend 6+ interview rounds. The worst example I've heard is someone going through 26 interview rounds!

Such examples may be rare, but highlights the regional differences in the recruiting process around the globe. It is a balance between the demand for a role versus the number of available candidates. Most job candidates in the US or UK wouldn't apply for a position if faced with a round of 10 or so interviews, but in other parts of the world it is a way of life. Neither would many UK or US employers deem it worthwhile to have such a long recruitment timeline.

I remember a previous role where I had to travel to different parts of the UK. It was an eye opener from a language perspective as I encountered many regional language differences. I remember one specific one was "sausage roll". In my mind it was clear it was either sausage meat surrounded by puff pastry, or a bread roll with a sliced sausage inside it. In some parts of the UK the latter was a sausage cobb if it was a hard roll, or a sausage bap if a soft roll. And I'm still unclear what the difference is between a "bun" and a "cobb" or "bap"!  

Who's right? As Mark Twain's humourous / humorous quote illustrates, the answer is who has the power and influence to say they're correct.

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