Don't mess up your job application!

The difference between a CV and a Resume and the Do's and Don'ts of job hunting.

4 years ago

Latest Post Water under the bridge by Muees Moosa
This is a shot of the owner of New Zealand watch company - Hunters Race.
Photo by Hunters Race / Unsplash

The global unemployment rate has been increasing in leaps and bounds and of course the catalyst for this eruption of unemployed workers is the current COVID-19 Pandemic. Millions of workers who are victims of the layoffs and the unfortunate new graduates are currently looking for a means to an end and mailing their CVs and Résumés to any and every job opening they can find. We have faced multiple recessions in the past decades, but this pandemic is very much an unprecedented situation; it exploits our weaknesses as social creatures with different views, which we might have thought were our strengths. Although millions are losing their jobs right now, in the past we have always overcome the challenges and brought about change, so we must remain hopeful.

The current job market has suddenly become a lot more competitive than it already was, and companies will be bombarded with applications for any vacancy. So, you must think that no one can afford to mess up their job application, and everyone would want to make sure their application stands out. However, being at one of those companies skimming through those applications, I am sad at how careless people can be. Out of the hundreds of applications for each vacancy, there is only a handful that are carefully curated to look professional and presentable. Therefore, let me tell you how not to mess up your application.

First things first, what's a CV? Is it different from a Resume?


CV or "Curriculum Vitae" is a Latin term meaning "the course of life". Well that translation itself should tell you that it's one detailed and comprehensive document of everything you've done in your life. Now, I mean only what is appropriate for you to mention there.

A CV can be 2-8 pages long depending on your experience, there's no rule of thumb that says it should fit an x number of pages. But you do want to make sure to only mention what is appropriate;

1. Your full name and contact details.
2. A professional title and a summary or objective.
3. Educational qualifications.
4. Work experience; both voluntary and professional.
5. Those workshops, conferences, and courses you attended.
6. Any good skills you have.
7. Certificates; both academic and non-academic, do separate both types.
8. Languages; knowing a few phrases doesn't count as basic knowledge of a language!
9. References.

If you have any publications (academic papers and books), do mention those as well, including any grants and fellowships, if you are someone that's actually in academics.


A "resume" or "résumé" with its acute accent or accent aigu, gives away the fact that it is a word with French origins. Simply put, it refers to "summary". It is a short and to the point document with the sole purpose of applying to a specific job.

You'd want to make your resume as short as possible unlike a CV. Make it fit to 1 page, but if you have more than 5 years of experience and you feel like the extra information can help you land the job, you can make it fit to 2 pages max.

What to include?

1. Your full name and contact details.
2. Your professional title or the position you're applying for.
3. The resume summary or objective - here you need to highlight your notable achievements so far in 2 - 3 sentences.
4. Your work experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for!
5. Education – there’s no need to mention every little detail here unless you’re a fresher.
6. The relevant skills you possess that would help you in the specific job you’re applying for.
7. Languages and your proficiency in them.
8. And only mention certifications and interests that are relevant to the job.


What is this now? Well let's put it this way, biodata is the Indian version that replaces a CV or Resume. It's technically used for profiling an individual that can include a lot of personal information and it can be of 5 different types. But let's not divulge into all that, you'll most probably come across it as a job biodata and it would just be another name for a CV or resume. Hope you won't be startled if you come across the word now.

Which one am I supposed to use?

We’re done with the technicalities of what is what, but hey, you notice how everyone calls a resume as a CV, right? Well if so, you’re most probably not in America. Okay so this makes it trickier now right? Let me make it clear to you.

The above differences generally apply in US, yes! a bit like the way they use the imperial system while the rest of the world uses the metric system. In Europe and most other parts of the world, CV is just another word for Resume.

However, the formats do matter. The CV format should be used if you are looking to get an admission or job in academia and it may also be relevant for some government jobs. And like most people out there right now, if you are seeking a job, stick to the resume format with 1-2 pages max and content tailored to the specific job you are applying for. Just so that you don't confuse this, lets stick to the word resume from hereon, but remember, if you're not in America, CV is just another name for resume.

Mistakes to avoid in your resume

Before diving into this, here's a fun fact; employers don't read your whole resume! Feel bad that all your work would be for nothing then? That doesn't mean you shouldn't work hard on it. Most employers are flooded with applications and they can afford to take only a few seconds to go through your resume; around 5 - 7 seconds. Now if you want to impress them in less than 10 seconds, you must keep these in mind!

Cover Letter

Resumes also require a cover letter to be sent along with it. This is a one page document that is used to introduce yourself and summarise your work experience. It is typically between 250 - 400 words long. If I jump into the details of this, then this article that is already lengthy will only be lengthier. My advice would be to just google how to write one. There's tons of great guides that will help you through it.

Bonus advice / the golden tips

Now read this carefully, you may have a great resume/CV made and a remarkable cover letter written up, but you may mess up your whole job application if you do any of these mistakes. Some of them may be so annoying to the hiring managers that they won't even bother going through your resume.

These are hard times for all of us but we can get through this together. I know that many of you are looking to find a way to put bread on your table, and I hope with the few tips I have given here, you are able to land something that will help you recover. We can do this together. Best of luck!

Muees Moosa

Published 4 years ago