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I don’t know about you, but ages ago, when I was in college, I was told that the difference between a Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) and a resume is that professorial types used C.V.s and everyone else used resumes. (See here for discussion on spelling “resume.” I’m going without the accents for this post.)

During one of my sessions on The Work of Art, we discussed building a promotional tool kit, which should include various versions of your resume. Kathleen, our fearless leader, told us that her working definition of the difference between a C.V. and resume is that the C.V. serves as your master list of everything you’ve done in your life that might be useful for a job and you use the C.V. in order to write resumes tailored to the specific jobs you are seeking.

This is the finest explanation I have heard concerning these terms. Whenever I’ve had to update my resume over the years, earlier experiences tend to get lopped off in order to conserve space. Thankfully, I have kept copies of my previous resumes, so taken together, they’ve acted as a C.V., but I prefer the idea of putting all of it in one document. I was so excited about this notion of a C.V. that I spent a morning mashing together all of my resumes. There’s some repetition in my C.V. that needs to be cleaned up, but now everything, even those back-in-the-mists-of-time experiences, is available.

Incidentally, “curriculum vitae” is Latin for “[the] course of [my] life,” which means that Kathleen’s definition is closer than the one I originally learned.

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