When it comes to packaging and marketing your background, you have three main choices: 1) a resume, 2) a CV (curriculum vitae) or 3) a bio (career biography). There are some significant differences. You will need to determine the reader’s preference – do they want something short, something more detailed or a promotional document.
Resume – a one or two page bulleted list of your professional information used to apply for a job.
It can either be in a chronological, functional, combination or business card format. A resume contains the factual and specific details of your education, experience, job titles, certifications and skills. The resume is the first impression an employer has of you and it is used to screen candidates for interviews. It is not your life history. It’s a wise idea to make sure the resume is tailored to the position you are applying for. When you apply for the majority of jobs in the private, public and non-profit sectors, a one page resume works best. A two page resume is acceptable for some fields and also for jobs that require more extensive experience.
CV – a resume that is two or more pages and typically used for an academic, research or fellowship search.
It gives a complete and lengthy account of your professional background. It is Latin for “course of one’s life.” Like the resume, the goal of the CV is to get an interview. Styles and opinions vary so make sure you are tailoring your CV to the institution’s needs. For example, are they looking for someone who has extensive research experience or perhaps a person who has a strong teaching and administrative background? Due to the extended length of the CV, it is going to have more categories than a resume. I have seen some CVs that consist of 15 or more pages. Some of the categories may include the following:
Education, Certifications, Dissertation/Thesis Topic, Teaching Experience, Administrative Experience, Research Experience, Computer Skills, Laboratory Experience, Languages, Presentations/Publication Experience, University Involvement, Consulting Experience, Affiliations/Professional Associations/Memberships, Scholarships/Fellowships, Honors/Awards, Research Interest
Bio – a promotional summary in an essay format of your most important highlights used for consulting, presenting or job searching.
It is an overview of you without specific dates or detailed duties. Written in the third person, it is a compelling story of your most compelling achievements. Keep it more informal and interesting. Stick to no more than one page with a few paragraphs. Bios can include photos, credentials, awards, personal information, name dropping of companies and impressive job titles. It is a piece of advertising especially for consulting and presentations. The following bio I use for speaking engagements is a sample format:
“Many in the higher education and business community regard Dr. Tom Denham as a leading authority and much-sought-after speaker on career development, marketing and entrepreneurship. His enthusiasm helps him to quickly connect with people and make an impact on them to take action.
Tom has over twenty years of experience in career services including leadership positions at Union College, Harvard, St. Lawrence and Boston Universities. As the Director of the Siena College Career Center, students honored him as the 2000 Administrator of the Year.
He founded Careers In Transition LLC, a private practice in career services, which focuses on career counseling for individuals and consulting services for institutional clients. Tom also founded Northeast Public Radio’s award winning talk show, The Career Forum. He has been a contributing writer for five books, has published dozens of articles, and speaks extensively on career management issues. His first book will be published next spring by Melange Press. Academically, Tom earned his bachelors from St. Lawrence University, his masters from Boston University and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.
Athletically, Tom has run the New York City Marathon in less than 4 hours. He has climbed over 200 mountains including the Adirondack 46. In 2009, he survived a huge crevasse fall on Mt. Rainier by ice climbing his way out. He has also climbed Mt. Hood, The Grand Teton, Mt. Shasta, and Devils Tower. Tom lives where he grew up in Albany where he would rather be ice and rock climbing and raising his daughter, Rachel.”
All three are tools for your career development. I encourage all of my clients to have a lifetime “Master Resume” or CV that they can develop into a current one or two page resume or bio. Whether you use a resume, CV or bio, get it professionally critiqued and update it annually. Which ever format you use, be truthful and be sure you can back up your claims in the interview. By first considering your field and background, you can select the best way to market your candidacy in order to achieve your objectives.