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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is a CV?

A CV or resume, as it is sometimes called, is the most popular and important application document a candidate will send when applying for a role. In most cases, it gives a 1–3 page summary of an applicant’s educational and professional history to date. This enables recruiters and hiring managers to quickly assess the candidate’s professional qualifications and suitability for a position.

What does CV stand for?

CV, short for “Curriculum Vitae”, is Latin for “course of life”. Whereas the term résumé is a French word, meaning ‘summary’. 

Therefore, it makes sense that a CV is typically a more detailed overview of a candidate’s professional and educational history than the more brief résumé.

What does CV mean?

The term CV is the most common term worldwide for this application document. However, it can also be heard used synonymously with the term ‘résumé’ or ‘resume’ in the US and Canada. Due to globalisation, the term CV is also becoming popular in other areas of the world. For example, in German-speaking areas where the document is called a “Lebenslauf”, the term CV is now also increasingly used in German-language job advertisements.

Résumé or CV – what is the difference?

Although the terms are becoming more synonymous, technically speaking a CV and résumé are not the same thing. Both terms are documents in different forms, with different applications.

Curriculum Vitae (CV): 

• Detailed document, around 1-3 pages in length

• Typically written in a list-like format

• Usually includes a short personal statement and career goal

• Focus on professional strengths and hard skills

• Only includes relevant educational and career stages and projects

• Indication of useful skills, interests, and hobbies

• Will usually include 2 or 3 references

• Also includes name, address, and contact details


• Very concise document, around 1 page

• Mainly used in non-academic fields

• Strongly competence oriented

• Usually written in bullet points for a quick overview of relevant facts

• Includes highest educational attainment and 2-3 most relevant job roles

• Will usually include at least 3 references

• Also includes name, address, and contact information

CVs and résumés can sometimes include more personal information, such as a birthdate or photograph. These details are not mandatory in most countries and are becoming less common as diverse recruiting strategies are becoming more of a priority.

What is included in a CV?

A typical curriculum vitae comprises 1–3 A4 pages and will include:

• Personal details (e.g. name, address, contact details)

• School/university education

• Internships or training 

• Work experience

• Foreign language skills

• Other skills and interests

The educational and professional career information is commonly arranged chronologically, but can also be listed by function.

A CV gives HR managers and recruiters a quick, yet comprehensive, biographical first impression of the applicant’s professional career and the hard skills acquired in the process. Along with this, it will touch on useful soft skills, competencies, and interests. This information provides recruiters with a basis for deciding whether a candidate has the required qualifications and competencies to be included in the shortlisting process.

Likewise, a CV will highlight the frequency of a candidate’s job changes and the average length of employment. This can be used to get an idea of a candidate’s potential for development and how determined they are to advance their career. 

All these points will have a final influence on whether a candidate is invited to an interview or rejected.

Where to find a candidate’s CV?

This question will depend on your chosen submission form and recruiting methods. While many companies have moved away from the ‘classic’ application folder, containing physical copies of the documents, we will touch upon both these and digital applications.

Classic application portfolio

In the rare instance that a classic application portfolio is received the CV should be located after the cover letter or letter of motivation. In some cases, a ‘covering page’ may also be included before the CV. After the CV will be the references, certificates and credentials.

Virtual application portfolio

In a virtual application portfolio, there will usually be a section for a candidate to upload their CV to, as is the case with JOIN

For virtual applications, a cover letter and CV are usually required and occasionally (for example, with creative roles) a portfolio of work. In these cases, a CV is usually uploaded via an online form and will be sent straight to the recruiter.

Depending on the job, sometimes a CV is not needed. Here, the information that is typically found in a CV is uploaded via an online form and sent straight to the recruiter. Usually, an option to include the original CV will be available too. 

Talent Sourcing & Social Recruiting

In today’s age of skills shortages, sometimes no qualified applications are received. In such cases, recruiters can take the initiative themselves and specifically approach potential candidates through professional networks (talent sourcing) such as XING, LinkedIn, and Indeed. 

In this case, relevant information can be found in a candidate’s profile, with a more detailed CV being sent over if contact is made with the individual.

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