Re. Resume vs. CV?

Subject: Re. Resume vs. CV?
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 1995 16:14:41 LCL

There's an interesting thread emerging about one-page
resumes versus multi-page tomes. There's an interesting and
important point that we're missing in this discussion.

A "resume" (literally translated) is a summary, not the
whole story. You could certainly write a page or more about
your duties as "publications coordinator", but that's not
the point. In a resume, you'd summarize the job in at most
2-3 lines:

1993-present: Publications coordinator: coordinates the
entire print production process from first draft through
printed manuscript (writing, editing, proofreading, dealing
with commercial printer, quality control, mail distribution
and translation).

That's it, and that's all. You can fit almost any career
into two pages handled in that format. If your career spans
30 years, drop the last half dozen jobs if necessary...
they'll want to know what you're doing now, not what you
did at the beginning. Some authors suggest that you show
the whole list of jobs to prove that you've progressively
grown in skills or responsibility; I'm dubious about that
because if your most recent job was "senior writer", it's
self-evident that at one point you were a junior writer;
similarly, if you're now a manager, at one point you were
managed. (If you jumped straight into either role, so much
the better... don't forget to brag about this gently at
your interview.)

On the other hand, a CV (curriculum vitae) represents your
life story to date. I won't waste space here by redoing the
publications coordinator item, but the same 2-3 lines on
the resume could easily take 2-3 lines per activity in the
CV (e.g., editing = 50 words of details). You could even
include a list of peer-reviewed publications, which are _de
rigeur_ for academic CVs. Pardon my switching metaphors,
but if a resume is the table of contents, then the CV is
the book.

Think of it this way: a resume is your attempt to catch
someone's (e.g., the personnel manager's) attention long
enough to get them to investigate further: a good resume
will earn you an interview or a request for more details.
Only once you've gotten this request should you elaborate
in any depth. For example, you could bring your CV to the
interview so that you can explain your life story in
whatever depth the interviewer will sit still for.

For a resume, one page is great, two pages is OK if you've
had a long career, and three pages is one page too many. On
the other hand, a cover letter should accompany any resume,
and this lets you stretch your resume to almost three pages
without seeming to do so. Indeed, the cover letter is much
like a resume (remember, a "summary"!) of the resume: it
explains in much less space (e.g., half a page rather than
two pages) why the person should bother reading your
resume. Think of this as the abstract to a long article.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of our
reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.

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