NEWS + ADVICE
The Difference Between a Resume, a Bio, and Curricula Vitae
Job seekers are somewhat confused with the semantics of what a resume is versus a short biography versus a curricula vitae. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, depending upon the end goal or objective of the owner. Let’s examine the definitions and the differences.
A curricula vitae (CV) has a root in the Latin term, ‘life story’ or ‘courses of life.’ A CV illustrates the achievements and the entire employment history, as well as awards, education, and special training received over a lifetime of the CV owner. A CV is not a resume or a bio and is used principally to provide a detailed history to an audience. It also lists all the education, certifications and training, patents, white papers, technical skills, and other details. A CV includes educational and academic backgrounds as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, and affiliations.
In the USA, recruiters don’t want the longer version (CV) of work history to muddle through – it would be too tiresome to read. CVs are requested when applying for academic, education, scientific, research positions, fellowships or grants – validating the credentials of the applicant. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, employers may expect a CV. CVs can run as few as three pages to as long as 20 pages, depending upon the background and history of the candidate.
A resume is a snapshot of accomplishments reached in a range of employment history – commonly the last 10-15 years. Resumes are used as career search tools, listing the most recent experience and up-to-date skill sets, as well as any financial contributions (sales, revenues, cost cutting or overhead savings) relevant to the company who is considering the job candidate. Resumes are normally 2-3 pages, but could feasibly run 4-5 pages for a mature candidate with a relevant career history. A resume is a sales tool used primarily for job consideration in career searches.
A bio, short for biography, is a short document demonstrating major event highlights – not necessarily recent, but more likely highlights of their career and notable achievements. A bio is tailored for the occasion in which it is to be used. A speaker would provide a 1-2 paragraph bio to the master of ceremony to introduce their relevant background pertinent to the topic of the speech. A book cover may have a very short bio of the author with just enough information to indicate the writer is well-versed in their craft, and may include personal details such as family size or the geographic area where they live. A business owner, CEO, or Executive may issue a one page length bio for the company website to advertise experience in running a company or industry knowledge.
I would rather see the CV of a famous general instead of a resume, which may only run the more recent 10-15 years and doesn’t tell the story of their entire career. When listening to guest speakers on an interesting topic, I would rather hear a short bio introduction versus hearing their entire life history read from a resume. I would rather read a resume as a recruiter seeking the best candidate for a job I am trying to fill.
Each of these types of experience and life or career histories has a purpose and is used for their functionality and associated length. Career seekers should have a copy of all three – a bio for the ‘elevator speech’ presented before the main event, a resume for hiring managers to develop a good idea of capabilities, and a CV to keep a constant update of their entire career history from which to pick and choose the pieces for their resume, or when they write their life story. Practice updating the CV every 3-4 months. Keep the freshest updates handy for that emergency inquiry.
Dawn Boyer is a career services coach, social media management, human resources, and business development consultant. Follow Dawn on Twitter @Dawn_Boyer.This entry was posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 7:17 am