Demystified: The CV and Resume Confusion between the US and Europe
Frequently, when communicating across the Atlantic between the US and Europe, confusion arises about what document is required to apply for a certain opportunity: a CV or a resume.
The general difference between CV and resume – in the US
When solely dealing with US application scenarios, the CV vs resume topic does not usually cause too much confusion.
CV is short for the Latin Curriculum Vitae, “Course of Life,” and is an extensive and complete record of your career evolution. No tweaking, summarizing, or rearranging. A full account of what you have done professionally; easily 10-pages long for a seasoned academic or medical professional. A full-blown CV is usually specifically requested in official job postings, e.g. from research hospitals, universities, and scientific institutions.
Corporate America, on the other hand, does not have time to sift through long and extensive career obituaries. Corporate America wants something “summarized.” And that’s where “résumé” the French word for summary, comes into play. A short, concise, and branded document that highlights a candidate’s value-add capabilities and achievements. Typically, 1 to 2 pages; possibly 3 pages for senior executives with more than 25+ years of executive leadership experience.
What about the Europeans?
One thing most cross-cultural leaders will notice when sourcing for talent is that Europeans seem to always refer to a CV. Hardly ever do I hear them use the term “resume.”
This regularly throws US leaders, candidates, and recruiters off.
Are there European counterparts really talking about an extensive, academic style, laundry list about all they have ever done for corporate executive leadership positions?
Of course not. Corporate Europe doesn’t have time to sift through extensive academic CV’s either. They also need a straight to the point and value-add document that allows them to quickly “scan” for a match potential.
The only catch here when communicating in English: Europeans tend to use the term CV interchangeably for an extensive academic long version as well as for the shorter and tweaked corporate version.
You will typically know from the context which one is required or sometimes an “academic CV” will be explicitly requested.
Europeans targeting the US for opportunities can follow the simple guideline CV = long and extensive, resume = short and concise. US candidates targeting European opportunities should, if in doubt, double-check before submitting their application.
One word of caution: Obviously, standards differ across Europe and there might be regions where people might actually refer to a resume rather than a CV.
If so, I have simply not come across this yet and would be grateful if you would let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.