Many people get confused between a CV and a Resume – they are similar but by no means the same thing. The two terms are often used interchangeably even though structurally they are different.
Resumes are a brief summary of your education, work history, qualifications, and other accomplishments. It is designed to be very short and concise and often is only one or two pages maximum in length. Resumes in this structure are rarely used in Australia and for job application purposes have little place due to the limited amount of information they allow. Most Australians will refer to their CV as their resume.
CV’s (short for Curriculum Vitae) are essentially a longer version of a resume with more detail. They contain the same information as a resume however in much more depth and often examples of tasks undertaken or work produced are included. They can have attachments, such as copies of certificates or qualifications.
CVs are more descriptive than resumes, especially the details about previously held positions where you can talk about tasks undertaken, responsibilities, major achievements etc. They should be customised to each position you are applying for – including previous achievements, professional association memberships details, continuing education and licenses etc required for the job advertised. A CV is routinely 2+ pages in length to accommodate the additional information.
Cover letters are used to accompany your CV or Resume when applying for a job. The letter allows for you to explain to the employer what it is you are applying for, in addition to selling yourself as an applicant who’s CV or Resume the employer should read.
The letter allows you to show more about yourself than a professional document such as your CV or Resume might, as you can address certain selection criteria or points which may not easily identifiable in your CV or Resume, or not included, such as personality traits or soft skills. Your resume/CV can show where you worked but does not show your work ethic – you can use your cover letter to give examples.
You should never apply for a job with a CV or Resume only. A cover letter should always be included and should always be personalised to the business you are giving it to.
Tips for CV’s, Resumes, and cover letters:
Presentation is vital! Use headings, dot points, and paragraphs as appropriate. Stick to one clear and easy to read font, in black, and ensure the headings are a larger size than the included information. Stay away from fancy and curly fonts and make sure you have a well-balanced presentation of the information. Make sure it is easy to read and always, always get someone else to proofread it for you. Spelling and grammatical errors on your CV or cover letter is NOT a good look.
Ensure each time you apply for a position you tailor your documents to that role/clinic. You should be showing to employers that you are wishing to apply for a job with THAT clinic not just applying for any job. This means addressing the letter to the name of the person in charge of hiring (this might be mentioned in the advertisement, otherwise you should call the business and ask), ensuring you address the selection criteria in the advert, and link somewhere in your application to your knowledge of THAT clinic and it’s services.
Keep your documents as short and concise as possible, just because a CV can be longer than 2 pages doesn’t mean it should be 10 pages long. Statistically, employers won’t read anything past 2 pages and they never read in detail unless you have been shortlisted.
Make sure it is easy to read and the important details should stand out (and be first) to ensure the employer’s attention is grabbed and you are shortlisted. Make sure you only include the pertinent details in depth and don’t go off on tangents. Try to stick to the criteria mentioned in the advert.
Highlight your veterinary nursing experience and education over other non-vet industry jobs, but ensure you relate your other experience to how it can help you as a veterinary nurse (as it’s still important). You might move the various sections of your CV around to ensure what is important to that employer is first. If they ask for someone passionate about continuing education, listing all the courses you have attended on page 5 is probably not the best place for this employer – move it up! But for other employers, page 5 might be fine. Read the advert carefully to see what they are asking for.
Consider having your CV, Resume and Cover letter written for you professionally. It is not an expensive thing to do, it certainly costs less than applying for lots and lots of jobs, and job hunting for extended periods of time. Don’t forget that having the documents written for you does not guarantee a job – the interview process is up to you entirely. Good quality documents will give you a better chance of getting into that interview room.
Tabatha Whitehead, of Help Meowt, is a veterinary nurse and HR expert and is perfectly placed to help you in the resume and cover letter department!