Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 18 – CV or Resume

This month’s edition starts a series of newsletters on the tools that you need to have and the work that you need to do to find work in today’s competitive job market.  Over the next few months we will be taking a look at how to write covering letters, addressing selection criteria and interview techniques.  But this month’s edition we will look at the importance of having an up to date CV and/or resume, and we ask – what is the difference and does it matter which one you send.  As you know we do not use the newsletter as an advertising tool, but this information comes in part from a series of workshops we conducted last year, and a book on the selection and interview process called the First 4 minutes.  If you would like more details about this book, please visit the “other page” on the web.  We hope you enjoy reading.  Have a great week.

As always, if you would like to see us cover any other topics, we would love to hear from you.  Just send an e-mail to

In this Issue we will be looking at:
• CV or Resume – What’s the difference;
• What should be included;
• Common Blunders;
• Format
• A Thought to Ponder.

CV or Resume – What’s the difference?
And more importantly does it matter which one you use?

A Curriculum Vitae or CV as it is more commonly called is taken from the Latin – meaning the course of one’s life.  And is a summary of one’s education, professional history, and job qualifications, for a prospective employer.

A Resume –French, from past participle of résumer, to summarize, from Old French resumer, to resume and means – A brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications, often submitted with an employment application.

A resume should be no more than 2 or 3 pages long. A CV on the other hand can be as long as it needs to be….without being too verbose.

Does it matter which you send? Academia, management positions, employment agencies expect to see a lot of detail in your application and it is recommended that you send a detailed CV.  However, it is important to read the advertisement very carefully and if they specifically ask you for a resume that is no more than 2 pages long, then please ensure that your resume is 2 pages long. 

If you have ever tried to create this kind of document, you will know that every single word has to count, so be prepared to be ruthless. Will this word get me to an interview or not?  If you are not sure, re-write, re-work and change it so that it does.  After all, your CV and/or Resume has one goal – and that is to get you to the interview stage.  It is your one and only chance to make a good impression.  So make every word count for you.

What should be included
• Header (name, address, email address, phone number).  Try to avoid email addresses that can give a wrong impression – for example libchick, elvisthechicken2003, badgirrl2; devil888 and so on.  These are all actual examples of email addresses that are perfectly ok for friends to know about – but should not be used on a professional document.  Similarly try to avoid giving your current employers email address and phone number in your application (unless this is the only way of contacting you) as this is seen to be a breach of professional etiquette and if you have done it once, then chances are you will do it again.
• Lead with a strong profile section (detailing the scope of your experience and areas of proficiency)
• Work status – you need to advise your prospective employer that you are available to work in Australia and whether or not you are a citizen.  Some positions can preclude you if you are not an Australian Citizen.
• Reverse chronological employment history (emphasising achievements in the past 10-15 years).  You should include all practicum placements and voluntary work.  Try and relate skills directly to each position that you have held, and the impact that you made within each position. If you cannot think of anything in particular ask yourself some questions:
• How did you perform the job better than others would have done?
• What were the challenges or problems that you or the organisation faced?
• What did you do to overcome the problems? What were the results of your efforts? (Use figures and time lines).
• Did you receive any awards, special recognition or promotions as a result of your performance?
• Education (highest qualification gained for people with a considerable employment history – for new graduates it should be before any jobs that you have done, and should emphasise which courses you have undertaken and the marks that you have gained)
• Professional affiliation;
• Community activities;
• Skills and Technical expertise – make sure that you list all the software packages that you have used, and the length of time that you have used them.  You can also use this section to detail skills such as communication, project management, etc etc
• Additional training (that is relevant) that you have undertaken.  Again will calligraphy and basket weaving get you that all important job that you are looking for.
• Publications – this can include major projects, thesis and so on.  Not everyone is a published author in the traditional sense, but an employer can get a feel for your written communication skills and style.
• Foreign Languages spoken.

Common Blunders
The use of personal pronouns (“I” and “me”) and articles (“an” and “the”):
CV’s and Resumes are forms of business communication, which should be concise and written in a telegraphic style.  There should not be any mention of “I” and “me” “I did this”, “Me and my colleagues did that”…. If you have them in you should consider revising the statements to take them out.  For example:
The statement:
I developed a new product that added $2 million in sales and increased the gross margin of the market segment by 12%.
Can be changed to:
Developed new product that added $2 million in sales and increased gross margin of market segment by 12%.

Listing personal or irrelevant information:
You should not have in your CV and/or Resume details concerning your:
• Date or Birth (people who are considered to be too young, or too old will not get to the interview stage);
• Marital Status and Number of Children;
• Religious Affiliation;

Nor should you add a complete list of hobbies.  These should only be included if they are specifically related to the job that you are applying for.  For example, if you are going for a job as ski instructor they will need to know that you are interested in snow boarding, skiing, ice skating and so on.  But listing calligraphy and basket weaving as well, may not go down quite so well with your prospective employer as you might think.

Not stating that you are working on contract:
If you do not tell a prospective employer that you have worked on contract, it will simply look like you are job-hopping and cannot hold down a job for any length of time.  However, by telling a prospective employer that you are a contractor means that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get the experience that you need to get the ideal position that you really want.

Have not added the correct keywords:
What keywords? Did you know that some employers use software to weed out those CV’s that do not contain the correct mix of keywords? Well some of them do.  Imagine getting several hundred applications for every position that is advertised.  The first cull of unsuitable persons will be those people who have failed to add into their application (covering letter, statement addressing the selection criteria and the CV), those important keywords and key phrases used by the employer in their adverts and application packages that says, I have read this, I know what you are looking for, and I am the best person for this job, because I have read, understood and have demonstrated knowledge of those things that are important to you.

Failure to proof read your application:
One typo may be considered to be OK, two typos and you are on your way to the FILE 13 pile of thanks but no thanx.  If you think this is a little harsh, consider the statement that asks for someone with “Good attention to detail” – well if you have failed to prrof reed your document, you have just proven that you do knot have the necessary pride in your own work that they are lokking for, and your attention too detail is schoking.

I hope you spotted ALL the deliberate mistakes – if you didn’t I suggest you re-read that last paragraph. As I have mentioned to you before, your application may be the only thing the employer sees, if you cannot prove on paper that you are the best person for the job that is on offer, you will not be doing it in person at an interview.

Being vague about dates:
It is important to be as accurate with dates as you can be, and huge gaps that are unaccounted for, can look like you have something to hide. 

Telling the truth:
Did you know that one in 4 CV’s contain some form of untruths? It can be as little as being vague with dates, or you have gaps in your CV that you don’t want anyone to know about.  But other forms of fibbing can be duties that you have not performed, changing your job title to sound more impressive, taking credit for work that others have done, salary that you have earned, degrees that you do not have, false degrees that you have bought via the internet and so on.  If you get an interview based on false or misleading information, please bear in mind that your CV and your references will be checked before you start work, and discrepancies will be found out.

• You do not need to add a front page to your CV or Resume, as it usually only says what the document is and who is sending it. 
• Don’t bind your CV.  It will be photocopied.
• Do not use coloured paper and/or coloured text. Your application will probably be photocopied, and coloured paper and/or writing does not photocopy as well as plain white paper with black text. 
• Photographs – assumptions can and will be made about people by others – based on nothing more than what you look like, so if you are not sure that you will be shown in the best light by the photograph that you have chosen to put on your application, then leave it off.  If someone wants to know what you look like they can ask you to attend an interview.
• Choose the font you use carefully, make sure you use one that is easily read (verdana & ariel are good ones to use and are easily read in 10 or 11 font) – and keep CAPITALS to a minimum.
• Be consistent with all of your correspondence.  If you use ariel font size 11 for your CV, please ensure that this is the same font that you use to send your covering letter and  the statement addressing the selection criteria too.
• One CV does not fit all.  You will need to make sure that you create a specific CV for each position that you apply for, so that you can ensure that you have added the correct mix of keywords and key phrases. Remember your application may be subjected to software that is not able to read between the lines.

To your success.

A Thought to Ponder:
“The World was here before you, why therefore, should it owe you a living?”