Too much or too little..

In my last musing (No, not that way… this way), I talked about what not to do in your CV or resume. But do you know the difference between the two?

In Australia, we use the words CV and resume interchangeably, but there are slight differences in the length, layout, and purpose of these documents.

A resume should be one to five pages maximum. Board CVs should be a maximum of two pages. A CV has everything in it and is more inclined to academic-type roles.

CVs include all information about publications, training, posters and more. There are also differences around industry versus government CVs or university applications, and nuances around them can make a big difference in how you are initially perceived.

Selection criteria are required for many university and government roles. However, I have seen them reduce their requirements over the last year to look more at specific questions on your achievements instead.

Make sure you check the specific website or call to confirm what is required. I have had many candidates call me a day or so before an application has to be submitted as they have yet to read or ask what was required.

I have also had applications from people who do selection criteria when I have not asked for them. Don’t take on more work than you have to. I would have preferred them to pick up the phone and call me regarding the role and to qualify what was required.

My preference when assisting candidates, and I have seen this work well, is if you have an academic CV, I suggest you have a resume of three to four pages highlighting your skills, capabilities and key achievements. You can then include an appendix that can be longer if needed with all the additional information. A scholarship summary in the resume can help highlight the key appendix components.

Different types of resumes:

You can choose between a chronological/historical resume or a skills/hybrid-based resume.

A complete hybrid highlights your skills and aptitude in certain areas. It usually includes a short list of your roles. Then, the details of your roles are mixed up under different skill sets/aptitude areas—E.g. management, communication and any number of subheadings of aptitudes/skills.

A chronological resume lists your positions in reverse order, working backwards in your career. Under each position, detail your role and key achievements.

A semi-hybrid is my personal preference. It uses the chronological format with initial hybrid formatting to highlight your aptitudes and skills.

Why is the semi-hybrid my preferred choice?

Because I can see what you have done in each role, it gives me a better comprehension of the level of expertise and career progression. Complete hybrid resumes highlight your abilities and aptitude; however, I cannot see which role it applies to and, therefore, the level of real expertise gained.

Having some aptitudes and skills highlighted on the first page gives a good, eye-catching start to your resume. I also like to see an employment summary of roles and companies on the front page. If you have many roles, include only the relevant top 6 and call this a selected career summary. This ensures I have your snapshot on the first and most important page.

The first page is the most important and must catch the reader’s attention within the first 10 seconds so that you go into the ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ list, not the ‘no’ pile.

Here are some other essential things to remember:

  • There is no such thing as a perfect resume.
  • Everyone has a different opinion. Seek advice from a few people.
  • The resume’s role is to get you to interview. You get the job, not the resume.
  • Sell yourself. Be proud of your achievements.
  • Ongoing change. It may take many days and weeks, not just a few hours.
  • Your goals may change, and so should the resume.
  • Create a master document to draw from. Over some time, you will end up with multiple resumes for different roles, each tailored to the position or area that you wish to apply to.
  • Revise your resume or CV each time you leave a role. In reality, many people don’t do this – it is easy to forget. At the very least, keep the position description for future reference and document your key achievements.

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