What is a CV? Wonder no more!

It’s pretty common for people who start their job search to ask, “What is a CV and how is it different from a resume?”

When I talk with people who are looking for a new job, one of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “What is a CV?” It’s a term that is often heard among people looking for jobs, but not everyone knows what it means. And if you Google, “What is a CV,” you’ll find page after page after page of relevant answers to this question, because a lot of people find this a slightly confusing topic. So then, what is a CV and what does CV stand for?

What is a cv? What does cv stand for? Curriculum Vitae, which means "course of life" in Latin

What does cv stand for? Curriculum Vitae

What Does CV Stand For?

CV stands for curriculum vitae, which is Latin for “course of life.” The term CV is much more common outside the US, so if you’ve spent most of your life in the US, it isn’t a surprise that you find yourself wondering, “What is a CV and is it the same thing as a resume?

Generally, in the US, a CV is similar to a resume, but it is quite a bit longer. It is usually used for academic, scientific, or research positions and, in addition to job information, it includes great detail about publications, presentations, honors, awards, grants and fellowships.

What is a CV outside the U.S.?

Countries other than the US generally use a CV as the job-search document of choice. And, in addition to a lot more details than in a US resume, a CV will usually include a headshot photo in the corner of the first page as well as personal details such as date of birth and visa status. As a result CVs from other countries are usually much longer than American resumes.

Do I Need to Know How to Write a CV?

Now that you know just what is a CV, the question is, do you need to know how to write a CV? If you are looking for a job in the US, whether you currently live in the US or somewhere else, then you don’t really need to worry about how to write a CV. The important document for you is a resume. But even though there is a difference between a CV and a resume, most people in the US tend to use the terms interchangeably.

There are lots of articles about how to write a CV or resume. Since I’ve been an executive recruiter for over 20 years, and I can’t even begin to count the thousands and thousands of resumes I’ve read, I have my own list of important tips on how to write a CV or resume that will get you the attention that you deserve.

Five CV / Resume Writing Tips

5 Tips on How to Write a Resume by Susan Landon | Infographic

5 Tips on How to Write a Resume by Susan Landon

  1. List your job history in reverse chronological order. That is, your most recent job first. Don’t write what people call a “functional resume,” which lists skills (such as “management” or “financial analysis”) and then shows detailed accomplishments under each skill. People think that this format lets them highlight things that are most important, and this may be true. But the people who read resumes (and decide whether to interview you) hate this type of resume, because it is difficult for them to know when you did something. Remember – you are writing your resume for the reader, so write it the way the reader prefers.
  1. Be concise. Resume readers spend on average 6 seconds on every resume. (Yes, I said seconds). If you are early in your career, then keep it to one page. If you’re a bit more senior, then two pages are OK. As you move up, you can drop some of the details for your earlier jobs. (Don’t drop the jobs, just some of the detailed accomplishments). And don’t try to meet the one or two page limit by eliminating margins and using a tiny font.
  1. Include a brief description that covers size and business for each company. E.g.: “$1 billion software developer.” You can skip this if the company is absolutely well known, such as IBM or McDonalds. But don’t assume that everyone who reads your resume will have as much knowledge about your previous employers as you do.
  1. Include specific, quantifiable accomplishments. Your potential employer will find you much more interesting if you say that you “Led a marketing campaign that resulted in a 10% increase in revenue” than if you just say, “Led marketing campaign.” And if you managed a team, say how large the team was. From a resume reader’s perspective, it makes a difference if you were responsible for five people or 50 people.
  1. Don’t forget to proofread. This may be the most important tip! Grammar or spelling mistakes will eliminate you from consideration for any job. In case that didn’t sink in, let me say it again. Grammar or spelling mistakes will eliminate you from consideration for any job. So make sure that you have one or two friends proofread for you after you think it is perfect. And if you are a bilingual professional and English isn’t your first language, no matter how fluent you are, make sure that one of your proofreaders is a native English speaker.

Women in the Workplace may want to take a look at particular tips on how to write a great resume that I wrote in a previous blog, “Writing a Great Resume Increases Your Opportunities.”

So, now that we’ve answered the questions, “What is a CV?” and “How to write a CV?” you should be ready to write your own CV / resume and go after your perfect job!


Career Advice: Interview Tips for Women

Best career advice from Susan Landon and the top interview tips for women you will ever read! How to relay your accomplishments, timing, your personality for a smashing success.

By Susan Landon

You’re getting closer to your new job.  You’ve been following some good career advice and networking everywhere you go.  You’ve written a terrific resume.  And now you’ve got an interview scheduled with your dream employer next week.  You want to make sure that you’re ready and avoid difficulties that you’ve heard women are prone to in interviews, so you’re looking for specific interview tips for women.  So here they are…

Career Advice: Top Interview Tips for Women Photo credit: www.

Career Advice: Top Interview Tips for Women
Photo credit:

Interview Tips for Women: Best Career Advice

Be yourself!  As women, we often try to change who we are to fit into a male environment. And we end up hiding the things that make us unique and likeable, and we come across as flat.  I once provided career advice to a delightful woman named Jessica who had a full, infectious laugh. She had a great resume and was invited for many interviews, but Jessica never got the job offer.  As I tried to help her figure out what was happening, I learned that friends claiming to have good career advice had told her to make sure that no one heard that laugh during an interview, because it didn’t sound professional.  So Jessica put all her energy into making sure she didn’t laugh.  And her interviewers saw her as nervous and dull.  Once I told her to be herself and let her true personality shine, she had no trouble landing a great job.  If you put on a fake personality during the interview, they might hire you.  But eventually they’ll find out who you really are.  And if that isn’t who they wanted to hire, it could be disastrous for you.

An important interview tip for women: brag! Photo Credit:

An important interview tip for women: be yourself!
Photo Credit:

Interview Tips for Women: Your Accomplishments

Brag!  This is not the time to be humble.  Make sure that you can discuss every job on your resume from the perspective of what you accomplished and what you contributed.  If you’re looking for a more senior position, you should be speaking in terms of how you led your team to achieve X or Y. But if you’re interviewing for a less senior position, it’s crucial to speak in the first person so the interviewer understands the accomplishments are yours. This is a key piece of career advice that often gets overlooked. Think about what you can contribute to your new employer and be as specific as possible.  The interviewer doesn’t want to hear only that you’re a hard worker.  She/he wants to here what abilities and experience you bring to the table.

Interview Tips for Women: Timing is Key

Watch your timing!  Don’t ask about vacation, work/life balance, compensation or other benefits at your first interview.  Of course these are important!  But you don’t want the interviewer to think that these are more important to you than the job content and opportunity to contribute to the company’s objectives.  Just as you wouldn’t bring up how many kids you want to have on a first date, don’t discuss your special needs on a first interview.  Once you and the interviewer have fallen in love, you’re in a better position to ask for things you want. (So keep in mind that regardless of whose career advice you’re following, timing is everything and when applying any interview tips you must be mindful of the situation.)

Interview Tips for Women: When interviewing, keep in mind this sound career advice

When interviewing, keep in mind this sound career advice

Interview Tips for Women: Making a Personal Connection

Make a personal connection!  This is something that women are particularly good at, but sometimes we think it’s not professional, so we hold back.  You obviously seem to be qualified for the job, because you were called in for an interview.  Hopefully you’ve been doing a good job of talking about your accomplishments.  But interviewers want to hire people they like.  People they would want to work side-by-side with and go to lunch with.  If you notice the interviewer has a photo from a ski trip and you like to ski, make that connection.  If you see photos of kids, it’s OK to comment that they’re cute.

Although this is sound career advice for everyone, women can benefit from focusing their attention on the aspects I highlighted. I promise you that if you follow these interview tips for women, you’ll have a great interview and you’ll be settled into your new job before you know it!


Susan Landon, Managing Partner New York, Alexander Hughes Executive Search Consultants

Women in the Workplace: Writing a Great Resume Increases Your Opportunities

Don’t miss out on Susan Landon’s advice and tips on writing a great resume for women in the workplace! Overcome bragging and accomplishment angst. Go for it!

How to write a great resume

How to write a great resume

By Susan Landon

Everyone knows that, once you’ve decided to look for a new job and have an idea of what you want to do, the first step is writing a great resume.  No one thinks this is a fun and easy task, but for women in the workplace, writing a great resume, can be harder than it is for men.

Women in the workplace have accomplish a lot. Why is it hard to write a great resume?

Writing a Great Resume Increases Your Opportunities, then why is it so hard to write a great resume?

But why is this?  Women in the workplace have accomplished as much (or more!) than their male counterparts, so why would it be so hard to write a great resume?  It comes down to our orientation as women – those messages we have heard since we were young.  And this is especially true for Latinas, as Mariela Dabbah explains in her book Find Your Inner Red Shoe: Step Into Your Own Style of Success. Most of us have been taught that it’s good to be humble, that we shouldn’t brag or talk about how great we are, that we should share credit for any successes. But listening to these messages makes it very hard to write a great resume.

Writing a great resume tip:Ask a friend who knows you well to help you think of all the terrific things you've done

Writing a great resume tip: Ask a friend who knows you well to help you think of all the terrific things you’ve done

So what to do?  It starts with being aware that this may be what’s stopping you.  Think about whether these messages, or others that are similar, were ingrained in you from childhood. And if they were, then you must consciously try to ignore them, at least for a while so you can write a great resume.  Try to put any humble thoughts out of your mind and brag, brag, brag.  Ask a friend who knows you well to help you think of all the terrific things you have done.  And banish from your mind thoughts like, “It wasn’t really that great,” “I only played a small role,” and “Others did more than I did.”  When you’re trying to write a great resume, it’s no time to put yourself down or share the glory.

Once you’re in the right mindset, it becomes much easier to identify the accomplishments you want to highlight, which is the most important thing for women who want to write a great resume.

Tips on writing a great resume for women in the workplace

But no blog post about writing a great resume would be complete without a few guidelines on format.  So here they are:

  • Tips on writing a great resume for women in the workplace: Include quantifiable accomplishments

    Tips on writing a great resume for women in the workplace: Include quantifiable accomplishments

    Don’t try to squeeze everything on one page by using a tiny font and eliminating margins.  Leave white space for ease of reading and to enable the reader to write comments.

  • On the other hand, don’t go over two pages.  Resume readers spend only six to ten seconds on a resume.  (Yes, I said, “seconds”). Don’t minimize your chances by writing a novella.
  • Unless your company is super well known (like Google, Apple, or Disney), include a short description of the company, including revenues, so your reader can put you in context (E.g.: $800 million, publicly traded manufacturer of office furniture).
  • For women in the workplace is key to brag about their accomplishments

    For women in the workplace is key to brag about their accomplishments

    Include specific, quantifiable accomplishments.  How many people were on the team you led?  How much revenue did your program generate?  Etc.

  • Include keywords, so your resume has a greater chance of being selected by the program reviewing resumes.  Find the keywords on the job description, and be sure to sprinkle them liberally throughout your resume.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread.  And then proofread again.  And have one or two trusted friends proofread also.  This is the document that represents you to a prospective employer.  There is no room for misspellings or grammar and punctuation mistakes.  If English isn’t your first language, then make sure that someone who speaks English as their first language does the review.  This applies even if you think your English is prefect.

If you follow these format tips, and you put yourself in a frame of mind to brag and be proud of your accomplishments, you will very soon have a great resume that will help you land the job you deserve.  Let me know if you have any questions or concerns I can address, and good luck on your search!

Susan Landon, Managing Partner New York, Alexander Hughes Executive Search Consultants

What’s the Best Way to Find a Job?

Best way to find a job: Keep calm and diversify your search!

Best way to find a job: Keep calm and diversify your search!

By Susan Landon, Managing Partner New York, Alexander Hughes Executive Search Consultants

You know the feeling.  Your company has had a downsizing, and you’re out of a job.  Or your job is relatively secure, but you hate it.  Either way, you need to figure out what’s the best way to find a job. So what way is that?  Job board postings?  Recruiting sites of companies you’re interested in? Headhunters? Networking events? Informational interviews? Networking with friends and former colleagues?

The answer is “Yes.”  All of those methods can be the best way to find a job, and people have found jobs through every one of them.  If you only knew which one holds your job, then you could focus all of your energy on that one.  Unfortunately, your new position could come from any of those methods, so you need to pay attention to all of them.  Statistically, one method might generally be more successful than another, but your dream job could be waiting for you on one of the other channels.  So maximize your chances by pursuing multiple methods and combining your approach across methods.

Use job board postings and company recruiting websites, but don’t just submit your resume and hope for a response.  Research the company and find someone in your network who works there or knows someone who works there and ask for an introduction.  Companies are much more likely to hire someone who is known to and recommended by one of their employees as opposed to someone who just submits a resume on line.  Making some kind of personal connection dramatically improves the odds of landing that job you found on a job board.

Potentially the Best Way to Find a Job When You Have a Diverse Background

If you can’t find someone already in your network, search the company’s website for someone you have a connection to through an organization or a school you attended, and reach out to that person. An underused but often successful strategy is to reach out to the company’s Diversity and Inclusion department and Employee Resource Groups.  These groups may be the best way to find a job in a company where you have no other connections. They are highly interested in increasing the diversity in their company and may go that extra mile to help you in your search. They might even forward your resume to the recruiting manager.

And don’t just hide behind your computer screen.  Go out and meet people!  Go to networking events, trade association meetings, college alumni events, community events, etc. etc. etc.  You get the picture.  You never know who knows someone who knows someone who can make an introduction for you or even offer you a job.  Most jobs are filled by this word-of-mouth, personal-connection networking.  So if you hide behind your computer screen day after day, you’re only fooling yourself that you’re doing all you can to find your dream job.  On the other hand, don’t ignore what can be found on-line.  Knowing what companies are hiring and what’s going on in a company you’re interested in can inform your networking.

Don’t forget about headhunters.  But don’t over-rely on them.  You want to be on their radar in case they are searching for a candidate with your background.  But, if they don’t currently have a search that’s a fit for you, they won’t be actively looking on your behalf.

The bottom line is that you have to actively pursue all possible job search paths in order to maximize the likelihood of finding the perfect next job.   There isn’t just one best way to find a job.

Susan Landon, Managing Partner New York, Alexander Hughes Executive Search Consultants

The Power of a Bilingual Brain

My friend and personal editor, Susan Landon (by now, my not-so-secret weapon), has had the biggest belly laughs and hair pulling episodes while editing my blogs, columns, books and anything else I throw her way. And, as I believe in the literary adage “show, don’t tell,” here is one of our latest exchanges to help you fully appreciate my grammatical handicap.

I sent Susan a new Op-Ed, which I had originally entitled: “Black Woman on the Golf Course.” (Admittedly, I had previously checked via phone with her that it was “on the golf course.”) My subject line, however, read: “Black woman in the golf course.”

Susan – It’s ON the golf course!!!!

Me – Sorry, wrong subject line but the title is correct. Did you notice I used your favorite word “eschew”?

Susan – Yes, I noticed “eschew” and I wondered where on (not IN) earth that came from!! You are really stretching your wings. 🙂

Me – You are such a great influence in me!

Susan – It’s: influence ON me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t catch a break.

In my defense, (and the defense of many second language learners!) there’s little rhyme or reason for the grammatical rules of these two little devils. You wait in line at the store but you’re online on the Internet. Someone is on your side but in your mind. They are on your team but in your heart. Something is on TV, on the radio and on a website, but it’s in a book. It’s on a continent but in a country; in Manhattan but on Long Island. Come on! (Or should I go with “Come in, take a seat. Experience life as a second language learner!”)

Over the years, I have repeatedly studied the many rules that regulate prepositions trying to discover the patterns that elude me to no avail. So, I decided to settle for the second best thing besides speaking prepositionally-perfect English: Knowing that being a frequent user of both Spanish and English delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, makes me better at multitasking, and allows me to be keenly aware of what’s important and what’s not at every moment.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Ellen Bialystok, a cognitive neuroscientist who has spent 40 years learning about how bilingualism sharpens the mind, says that, according to her research, 5 and 6 year-olds who are bilingual “manifest a cognitive system with the ability to attend to important information and ignore the less important.” How does that work? Dr. Bialystok explains:

“There’s a system in your brain, the executive control system. It’s a general manager. Its job is to keep you focused on what’s relevant, while ignoring distractions. It’s what makes it possible for you to hold two different things in your mind at one time and switch between them. If you have two languages and you use them regularly, the way the brain’s networks work is that every time you speak, both languages pop up and the executive control system has to sort through everything and attend to what’s relevant in the moment. Therefore the bilinguals use that system more, and it’s that regular use that makes that system more efficient.”

After reading this interview a few months ago, I felt a little bit better about my failures and began to plot a strategy. I was thinking of just mumbling something that sounds in-between on/in something like… “en” (which is the preposition we use in Spanish for both “in and on”) so nobody can tell which preposition I’m using. I was getting ready to start using my new solution when Susan called me out on doing something similar with two other pairs of words.

Susan – “Do you know the difference between ‘run’ and ‘ran’ and between ‘hang out’ and ‘hung out’? Because you always seem to mumble them and I always wonder which one you meant. I’m starting to think that you just don’t know which one is which.”

Me – “I just go with the same pronunciation for both because I can’t hear the difference between the present and the past tense and I can’t be bothered.”

Susan – “Well, that’s like me saying ‘ella fui a su casa’ instead of ‘ella fue a su casa’ and telling you I can’t be bothered,” she said using as an example the wrong conjugation of the verb “to go” in Spanish. Now that got my attention.

So, I’ve decided to practice my pronunciation of present and past tense for these two verbs because I believe the tense of the verb is often critical to understanding the meaning of what you’re saying.

But when it comes to on/in, I’ll let that slide in support of Dr. Bialystok’s research. It’s now obvious to me that my bilingual brain doesn’t identify those two as relevant information.

This article was first published in the Huffington Post.