What will you turn in: a resume or a CV?
What will you turn in: a resume or a CV?

If you're beginning the daunting task of looking for a job, you may get lost in the myriad of terms and unspoken expectations. Job application jargon can get confusing to anyone looking for a new position. What's even more frustrating is that some employers use the terms "resume" and "CV" interchangeably -- when, technically, there's a difference.

Luckily, once you know the difference, you should be able to figure out what an employer wants based on the kind of job you're applying for.

Most employers expect a resume, which is short (usually only one page) and focuses on employment experience and skills. It lists where you've worked, along with what your job titles were and brief explanations of your major responsibilities. It should also include where you received your education and a list of skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

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On the other hand, a CV or curriculum vitae is several pages long (usually three to 10 pages) and is a more detailed account of your significant work. This document will probably include most, if not all, of the same information you would put on a resume. You don't have to be quite so concise, though, and it'll include important information you don't have room for on a resume.

To explain further, consider that CVs are chiefly used for academic and scientific professions. Physicians and attorneys use them, as well. If you're a college professor who has done research and has been published, you'll want to submit something more substantial than a one-page resume that simply states where you've worked.

It might help to remember that while the word resume comes from French for "summary," curriculum vitae is Latin and literally means "list of life." It's also important to note that you shouldn't send the same resume or CV to every employer. Instead, you can tailor each to the specific position you're applying for.

Next, we'll discuss some more tips for writing each.