Account manager modern resume close-up. Tilt view and shallow dept of field.

What is a résumé, anyway?  This word, often seen as resumé, or sometimes simply as resume (because let’s face it, finding those symbol keys is tricky) is also sometimes referred to as a CV or curriculum vitae (Latin: course of life).

So what are they, and what’s the difference?  Well, if you’re from the UK or other Commonwealth nations, not much.  Curriculum vitae is the phrase most popularly in use, but the two are essentially the same thing.

If you’re in the United States, a CV more often refers to a specific type of résumé, frequently requested in academic, medical or other professional fields, which includes more detailed and specific information about your education and achievements, most notably publications.


There are two main branches of résumés: chronological and functional.

A chronological resumé will focus on your work history, usually in order from most recent job title to most distant.  Typically under each job title, an applicant will list 2-4 bulleted “job highlights” or “relevant skills.”  It should include the name of the employer, as well as the dates of employment.  A chronological resume also usually includes a short section about your education and accomplishments, and a short list of your accomplishments.  Unless you are very far into your career, a one-page resume should be sufficient.  You’ll really want to avoid going over two pages.  If you find yourself going over two pages, chances are you really need to be writing a curriculum vitae (CV).

A functional resumé will focus on your job skills and relevant experience.  This style of resume generally works very well for people who are new to a job market.  Whether you’re fresh out of school, or looking to change careers, a functional resume is more likely to be the style you’ll want to write.  This kind of resumé is easier to tailor to the specific job you are seeking, and is flexible enough for you to highlight the skills the potential employer is seeking that you possess.

Some people choose to write a combination resume, or a résumé that includes elements from both the functional résumé and the chronological résumé.  The combination resumé will typically begin with a section highlighting skills, followed by a shorter, sometimes shortened, section covering a chronological list of relevant employers.
Your résumé is the representative you send out to potential employers before you ever get a chance to meet them in person.  They won’t have a chance to see your wonderful personality and charming good looks unless you can impress them on paper first.  This means that your resumé is possibly one of the most important documents you’ll ever personally write.