I had a conversation recently with a friend considering moving to Canada on the topic of resume’s. He was showing me his curriculum vitae document, or CV, and asked for feedback.

A CV is the equivalent of a resume outside of North America. The Balance has a great article comparing the two.

I provided my friend some feedback that I’ve provided before to others - especially candidates that are used to creating lengthy CV’s.

  • Length - Most CV’s are 2-3 pages long, and the ideal resume length is no more than one page. CV’s contain a lot of information - resume’s are about the highlights.
  • Profile Sections - One of the most important parts of the resume is a self described profile or summary. It can be a paragraph or bulleted list, but gives employers a good sense of the candidate. Many CV’s I’ve seen completely skip a summary, leaving the employer to stitch it together with work experience, education, and other sections.
  • Show off! Experience Bullets should never list your job responsibilities, but what you accomplished. Many CV’s I’ve reviewed have a detailed description of the job responsibility, company structure, and then highlight accomplishments. Those former sections can be removed in a resume - your company and job title tells a lot about responsibilities.
  • Don’t try to cram text on a page. It’s obvious when you are using formatting and margin tricks just to get to one page. Try to use sensibile defaults and force yourself to really prioritize what’s the important message.

I’ll be updating this list with more common resume advice as it comes up.