Curriculum Vitae, a Resume, and Other Job Seeking Documents

Appropriate documents for your next job search

When you’re launching a job search, it is key to get your documents updated and organized so that you can act quickly when you learn of a high potential position.  The question is, “What documents do you need?”  Let’s take a look at the best documents to have ready and available when you’re applying for jobs.

Curriculum Vitae vs. a Resume

preparing job seeking documents

Be prepared with the right documents to find the right job for you.

Let’s start with the difference between a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a resume.  The root definitions indicate the difference in the documents.

Curriculum Vitae is Latin for “course of life” and has no limit to its number of pages.  It is a detailed document of your accomplishments, publications, etc.  A CV is most frequently used to apply for an academic or research position.

Resume is a French word meaning “to sum up.”  A resume should be limited to 1-2 pages and it should provide a snapshot of your work history and qualifications related to a specific position.

Most individuals need only a CV or a resume; not both.  The right one for you is determined by the type of position you are applying for – academic or otherwise.  It’s important to know which one you need so that you don’t send the wrong first impression.

Unless you are applying for an academic position, assume you have less than 7 seconds to convince the reader that you’re a suitable candidate. So, punch up the beginning of your resume to focus on the role you are applying for – and keep it short. (See this blog post on how to write a winning resume)

Cover Letter

Since your resume focuses on your key roles and accomplishments, a cover letter is a great companion that should be included in your job seeking documents.  A cover letter introduces your resume.  Its purpose is to tell the prospective employer how you can help them.  This letter is all about them.

Think about what you can offer an organization and write it in the cover letter.  Relate how your experience (documented in your resume) can bring greater success to them. You will want a basic template ready, but a custom-tailored message will have greater impact.

Resist the urge to repeat a lot of information from your resume.  Keep the cover letter short and to the point.

Volunteer Resume

While you can include a synopsis of your volunteer activities on your resume, a separate, more comprehensive resume of your community involvement is a document that can be valuable in your job search.  Organizations are keenly interested in leaders who know the value of serving the community.

Additionally, volunteer roles are often a chance to hone skills that aren’t part of your paying job.  And, you will meet other community minded leaders on the boards you serve on, expanding your professional relationships.  Further benefits of community service can be found here.

Like a typical resume, you will want to keep your volunteer resume tight.  List all your board involvement, nonprofit memberships, and other organizations you support financially and/or with your time. Don’t underestimate the value of having these commitments documented.

Other documents

Many leaders have had great success with other documents so we’d love to hear what you recommend.  It’s key to be prepared so you can act quickly.  Do your research and develop messages that clearly state what you can do for each specific organization.  Organizations what to hear how successful you will make them.

If you need specific help with your resume, we recommend Top of the Stack resume and online profile services.

Jessica Baron

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