In North America, this document is a detailed list of your accomplishments in your professional career. It is distinct from your résumé, which is a précis or summary of your career. In a c.v. you’ll list every relevant job, achievement, publication (if any … including putting e2 on your résumé), patent, award, activity, and any other interesting thing you’ve done that relates to your current career. A c.v. can be as long as it needs to be to collect all the neat stuff about you.

Think of it this way: Your job search is supported by numerous materials, in the same way that anything else for sale is. The résumé is the four-color marketing glossy that make the potential buyer want to learn more about what’s on offer. The c.v. is like the technical specifications of the product, that delves into the details. You'll also need other essential sales tools, like personal branding and an elevator pitch, but we'll tackle those elsewhere.

In our online world, the c.v. can seem to be a bit of an anachronism, as in many situations it has been supplanted by the LinkedIn profile. This has nuances, though … the LinkedIn profile is a potential first point of contact, so it has to make some attempt at marketing. The c.v. usually has no such pretensions, as the fish should already be on the line before the c.v. is required.

In the more rarefied world of academics a c.v. may still be required, especially as it may shine a light on a research program or path of study.

Another distinction that may help is that the c.v. is a document that you could show the world, so it needs to be very factual and unbiased. Any claims you make should be defensible and largely indisputable. On the résumé, on the other hand, you want to impress, so some ... elaboration ... may be fine, and is in fact expected. You're going to want your résumé to claim that you "improved" this and "exceeded" that and "transformed" the other thing. You may need to imply that your immediate predecessor had left a steaming pile of fail, which you cleaned up. That immediate predecessor might end up seeing your c.v. (or LinkedIn profile) so it's best not to wax too poetic there.

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