Resumes, CVs, and profiles on professional sites like LinkedIn and Indeed are three very different ways for job seekers to represent themselves to their next employers. And yet, the intent of these three documents is the same: to get the applicant hired. In order for these documents to be effective, it is important to understand each of them, why they are needed, and the differences between them. That way, an informed job seeker can wow that dream employer with the exact information needed to help them stand out from the pack.
When you finish reading, don’t forget to pair your applications with a letter of recommendation:
This article will answer the following questions:
- What is a Resume?
- What is a CV?
- How is a Profile Different From a CV or Resume?
- How Can I Optimize These Documents?
Simply put, a resume is a summary of an applicant’s qualifications for the job in question1. Because of that, successful resumes are tailored for the position which the applicant is seeking. Recruiters recommend creating a “master” resume, and then tweaking that to reflect the specific position2. A great way for applicants to tweak a resume to a specific position is to look at the types of skills and qualifications that the employer is seeking, and then give those skills a higher priority in the resume3. Being a licensed SCUBA diver is a fine accomplishment and a great conversation starter, but you might not want to lead with that if you’re applying for an office job.
It might also be a timesaver for applicants to think of the top four or five positions to which they might apply, and then make some subtle tweaks to the master resume to create a template for those positions. For example, a job seeker with a marketing background could wind up applying for jobs in digital marketing, content creation, social media management, public relations, or sales. Having a template resume (and cover letter) for each of these avenues will ultimately save a lot of time, as the applicant would just need to make a few simple changes to freshen up the template for each company.
A CV (“curriculum vitae” or “course of life” in Latin4) is far more than a bougie way to say resume. While a resume for anyone other than a former president or pope should never be more than 1-2 pages, the CV is a more complete summary and can be as long as necessary to provide an accurate accounting of an applicant’s professional and personal accomplishments. (Check out this terrific post from Indeed on the typical format for a CV). CVs are commonly requested in academic circles, as well as in many European countries5.
In addition to length, the other major difference between a CV and a resume is that the CV is static. Applicants don’t need to worry about creating multiple CV templates for potential openings in different sectors — the CV stays the same. Instead, applicants are asked to write a cover letter that addresses their reasons for applying for the position and how their CV qualifies them6.
If you’re one of the 660 million users on LinkedIn7, you probably read that last paragraph and thought, “that sounds an awful lot like my LinkedIn profile!”
As it turns out, employers are increasingly thinking the same thing. Recruiters and career development consultants who were asked about LinkedIn versus resumes were split down the middle: half said they had completely replaced resumes with LinkedIn profiles — and the other half considered making the move8. The big difference seems to be LinkedIn’s dynamism. Applicants can share pictures and videos of their most successful projects. Instead of calling an applicant’s references or going through their letters of recommendation, recruiters can pull up their LinkedIn profiles and see which skills their former co-workers say they do well. (Although, even though they are ‘old school’, having a good letter of recommendation doesn’t hurt!)
Like the LinkedIn profile, job board sites like Indeed leverage big data, AI, and access to jobs to supercharge the traditional resume. Applicants can write in their top skills and the years experience they have in them, and the sites’ algorithms will tailor job recommendations that match their profiles.
The endgame of this is huge. In a 2018/2019 field experiment, ResumeGo reported that applicants with comprehensive LinkedIn profiles received a staggering 71% higher chance of getting called for interviews than applicants without LinkedIn profiles9.)
The short answer is to play the game.
Artificial intelligence has become THE way to do things in HR. 67% of hiring managers surveyed by LinkedIn said AI was saving them time on the hunt for new employees10.
That means no matter what the field, job applicants have to start treating their documents like digital ads. By focusing on things like search engine optimization and keyword placement, applicants can help their resume or CV stand out — not just to the hiring manager reading it, but to the AI that selects which resumes are even worth the hiring manager’s precious time11.
However, if all that sounds incredibly complicated, don’t despair! The same industry gurus who encourage applicants to gamify their CVs also say that the best way to get noticed11… is to reach out and call recruiters and hiring managers directly (and then, slide into their LinkedIn DMs).
You know what they say – the squeaky wheel gets the job.