AskDefine | Define resume

Dictionary Definition



1 short descriptive summary (of events) [syn: sketch, survey]
2 a summary of your academic and work history [syn: curriculum vitae, CV]


1 take up or begin anew; "We resumed the negotiations" [syn: restart]
2 return to a previous location or condition; "The painting resumed its old condition when we restored it" [syn: take up]
3 assume anew; "resume a title"; "resume an office"; "resume one's duties"
4 give a summary (of); "he summed up his results"; "I will now summarize" [syn: sum up, summarize, summarise]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK): rĭzjo͞om', /rɪˈzjuːm/, /rI"zju:m/
  • (US): rĭz(j)o͞om', /rɪˈz(j)um/, /rI"z(j)um/
  • Rhymes: -uːm

Etymology 1

From resumere (re- + sumere)


  1. To start (something) again that has been stopped or paused from the point at which it was stopped or paused.
    We will resume this discussion tomorrow at nine.
Usage notes
Related terms
start something again that has been stopped or paused

Etymology 2

From résumé.


  1. Alternative spelling of résumé, resumé
Usage notes
  • The spellings résumé and resumé are to be preferred over resume as this last spelling could be confused with the verb of the same spelling.
  • The American Heritage Dictionary (via lists all three spellings, in this order: resumé, resume, résumé.
  • Collins Word Exchange gives only résumé.
  • Merriam-Webster Online gives all three spellings in this order: résumé, resume, resumé.
  • MSN Encarta Dictionary gives all three spellings in the order: résumé, resumé, resume.




Extensive Definition

A résumé, also known as a curriculum vitae (CV), American and British English respectively, is a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education, usually for the purpose of obtaining an interview when seeking employment. Often the résumé or CV is the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker, and therefore a large amount of importance is often ascribed to it.


The Latin term curriculum vitae (often abbreviated CV) is used preferentially in many places outside of the Anglo-American world.
Curriculum vitae is Latin meaning "course of life" and résumé is French meaning "summary". In the business world, the word résumé (also spelled resumé and resume) is used especially in the United States and in English Canada.
In North America, Australia, and India the terms "résumé" and "CV" may be used interchangeably. However, a résumé more often has a free-form organizational style and is used for seeking employment in the private sector, whereas a curriculum vitae (also called a vita, but not curriculum vita, see below) usually has a more standardized look and format for the purpose of seeking positions in academic or educational institutions. Another difference is that a résumé tends to be more descriptive and tailored for a specific purpose or target audience, whereas a curriculum vitae tends to be organized in a way that presents data about one's self in a compact fashion, with a clear chronology. For example, a résumé may begin with a statement about a personal goal, followed by a list of most significant accomplishments or characteristics in order of significance, while a curriculum vitae often includes complete and unembellished lists of data such as educational institutions attended, degrees received, positions held, professional affiliations, publications authored, etc. A résumé may or may not be represented by the person as a complete history of themselves without omission, whereas a curriculum vitae usually implies that there are no omissions, and in particular, no temporal gaps between listed items.


A résumé is a summary typically limited to one or two pages of size A4 or Letter-size highlighting only those experiences and credentials that the author considers most relevant to the desired position. Simple résumés may be organized in different ways:

Chronological résumé

A chronological résumé enumerates a candidate's job experiences in reverse chronological order.
The chronological résumé format is by far the most common résumé layout in use. In using this format, the main body of the document becomes the Professional Experience section, starting from the most recent experience going chronologically backwards through a succession of previous experience. The chronological résumé works to build credibility through experience gained, while illustrating career growth over time. In the United Kingdom the chronological résumé tends to extend only as far back as the subjects GCSE/Standard Grade qualifications.

Functional résumé

A functional résumé lists work experience and skills sorted by skill area or job function.
The functional résumé is used to assert a focus to skills that are specific to the type of position being sought. This format directly emphasizes specific professional capabilities and utilizes experience summaries as its primary means of communicating professional competency. In contrast, the chronological résumé format will briefly highlight these competencies prior to presenting a comprehensive timeline of career growth via reverse-chronological listing with most recent experience listed first. The functional resume works well for those making a career change, having a varied work history and with little work experience. A functional résumé is also preferred for applications to jobs that require a very specific skill set or clearly defined personality traits.

Combination résumé

The combination résumé balances the functional and chronological approaches. A résumé organized this way typically leads with a functional list of job skills, followed by a chronological list of employers. The combination résumé has a tendency to repeat itself and is therefore less widely utilised than the other two forms.

Curriculum vitae

In the United States and Canada, a CV is expected to include a comprehensive listing of professional history including every term of employment, academic credential, publication, contribution or significant achievement. In certain professions, it may even include samples of the person's work and may run to many pages.
In the European Union, a standardised CV model known as Europass has been developed (in 2004 by the European Parliament) and promoted by the EU to ease skilled migration between member countries.



In many contexts, a résumé is short (usually one page), and therefore contains only experience directly relevant to a particular position. Many résumés contain precise keywords that the potential employers are looking for, make heavy use of active verbs, and display content in a flattering manner.
In the past, résumés used to be no longer than two pages, as potential employers typically did not devote much time to reading résumé details for each applicant. Employers have changed their views regarding acceptable résumé length. Since increasing numbers of job seekers and employers are using Internet-based job search engines to find and fill employment positions, longer résumés are needed for applicants to differentiate and distinguish themselves. Since the late 1990s, employers have been more accepting of résumés that are longer than two pages. Many professional résumé writers and human resources professionals believe that a résumé should be long enough so that it provides a concise, adequate, and accurate description of an applicant's employment history and skills. The transmission of résumés directly to employers became increasingly popular as late as 2002. Jobseekers were able to circumvent the job application process and reach employers through direct email contact and résumé blasting, a term meaning the mass distribution of résumés to increase personal visibility within the job market. However the mass distribution of résumés to employers often can have a negative effect on the applicant's chances of securing employment as the résumés tend not to be tailored for the specific positions the applicant is applying for. It is usually therefore more sensible to adjust the résumé for each position applied for.
The complexity and simplicity of various résumé formats tends to produce results that vary from person to person, occupation, and industry. It is important to note that résumés used by medical professionals, professors, artists and people in many other specialized fields may be comparatively longer. For example, an artist's résumé, typically excluding any non-art-related employment, may include extensive lists of solo and group exhibitions.

Curricula vitae

As with résumés, CVs are subject to recruiting fads. For example,
  • In German-speaking countries a picture was a mandatory adjunct to the CV for a long time.
  • In the huge Indian job market, photos and good looks are strongly preferred in the service industry (hotels, aviation, etc.) and in sales-marketing, front office and customer service jobs, also Indian employers prefer lengthy resumes.
  • Including a photograph of the applicant is strongly discouraged in the U.S. as it would suggest that an employer would discriminate on the basis of a person's appearance — age, race, sex, attractiveness, or the like. The theatre and modeling industries are exceptions, where it is expected that résumés will include photographs; actors refer to such photos as head shots.
  • When listing non-academic employment in the U.S., the newest entries generally come first (reverse chronological).
  • The use of an "objective statement" at the top of the document (such as "Looking for an entry-level position in stores") was strongly encouraged in the U.S. during the mid-1990s but fell out of favor by the late-1990s. However, with the avalanche of résumés distributed via the Internet since the late 1990s, an "objective" and/or "skills summary" statement has become more common to help recruiters quickly determine the applicant's suitability. It is not prevalent elsewhere.
  • A profiling statement (or thumbnail description) was a protocol developed by placement agencies in the late 1980s. Many candidates now open their CV with such a statement. This can be a short paragraph or a handful of bullet points delineating the candidate's most desirable skills and experiences.
  • Listing of computer skills (such as proficiency with word processing software) was a strong differentiator during the 1980s but was considered passé for most professional positions by the 1990s.
  • In the 1980s and early 1990s in the U.S., the trend was to not allow a resume to exceed one page in length. In the late 1990s, this restriction fell out of vogue, with two- or even three-page resumes becoming common.

A British curriculum vitae

A standard British CV used to have the following points
  • Personal details at the top, such as name in bold type, address, contact numbers and, if the subject has one, an e-mail address. Photos are not required at all, unless requested. Modern CVs are more flexible.
  • A personal profile, written in either the first or the third person, a short paragraph about the job seeker. This should be purely factual, and free of any opinion about the writer's qualities such as "enthusiastic", "highly motivated", etc.
  • A bulleted list of the job seeker's key skills or rather, professional assets - skills alone are somewhat unsophisticated
  • A reverse chronological list of the job seeker's work experience, including his or her current role. The CV should account for the writer's entire career history. The career history section should describe achievements rather than duties. The early career can these days be lumped together in a short summary but recent jobs should illustrate concept, planning, achievement, roles.
  • A reverse chronological list of the job seeker's education or training, including a list of his or her qualifications such as his or her academic qualifications (GCSEs, A-Levels, Highers, degrees etc.) and his or her professional qualifications (NVQs and memberships of professional organisations etc.). If the job seeker has just left the place of education, the work experience and education are reversed).
  • Date of birth, gender if you have an ambiguous first name, whether you have a driving licence used to be standard - but nothing is required and you should not waste space on trivia. An employer requesting date of birth and gender needlessly could find itself on the losing side of recent anti-discrimination legislation.
  • The job seeker's hobbies and interests (optional)
It is obligatory for it to be typed or word-processed, not hand-written.
There are certain faux pas for CVs:
  • The CV being longer than two full sides of A4 paper
  • Writing anything pejorative about other persons or businesses.
  • If applying for a specific position, omitting a covering letter explaining one's suitability.
Lying on a CV (on the work experience or the education/training) in order to get a job or anything else of value is fraud, a serious criminal and civil offense. An employer has the right to dismiss an employee or claim money from him or her in a civil court or even have the employee arrested for making false statements or fraud. As such CVs should be purely factual without implying skills which do not exist.

Online résumés

The Internet has brought about a new age for the résumé. As the search for employment has become more electronic, résumés have followed suit. It is not uncommon for employers to only accept résumés electronically, either out of practicality or preference. This electronic boom has changed much about the way résumés are written, read, and handled.
  • Job seekers must choose a file format in which to maintain their résumé. Many employers, especially recruitment agencies on their behalf, insist on receiving résumés only as Microsoft Word documents. Others will only accept résumés formatted in HTML, PDF, or plain ASCII text.
  • Many potential employers now find candidates' résumés through search engines, which makes it more important for candidates to use appropriate keywords when writing a résumé.
  • Including an e-mail address in an online résumé may expose the job seeker to spam.
Some career fields include a special section listing the life-long works of the author. For computer-related fields, the softography; for musicians and composers, the discography; for actors, a filmography.
Keeping résumés online has become increasingly common for people in professions that benefit from the multimedia and rich detail that are offered by an HTML résumé, such as actors, photographers, graphic designers, developers, dancers, etc.
Job seekers are finding an ever increasing demand to have an electronic version of their résumé available to employers and professionals who use Internet recruiting at any time. Internet résumés differ from conventional resumes in that they are comprehensive and allow for self-reflection. Unlike regular 2 page résumés, which only show recent work experience and education, Internet résumés also show an individual’s skill development over his or her career.
For job seekers, taking résumés online also facilitates distribution to multiple employers via Internet. Online résumé distribution services have emerged to allow job seekers to distribute their résumés to employers of their choices via email.
Another advantage to internet résumés is the significant cost savings over traditional hiring methods. The Employment Management Association has included internet advertising in its cost-per-hire surveys for several years. In 1997, for example, it reported that the average cost-per-hire for a print ad was $3,295, while the average cost-per-hire with the Internet was $377. This in turn has cut costs for many growing organizations, as well as saving time and energy in recruitment. Until the development of résumés in an electronic format, employers would have to sort through massive stacks of paper to find suitable candidates without any way of filtering out the poor candidates. Employers are now able to set search parameters in their database of résumés to reduce the number of résumés which must be reviewed in detail in the search for the ideal candidate.

EuroCv and the Europass Curriculum

Europass is an online service provided by the European Commission. The Europass CV was developed by the Council of Europe and replaces the European CV, launched in 2002 by EU parliament. In January 2005 Parliament updated the format of Europass CV. The site provides support for users to both create CVs and also send them off to prospective employers. EuroCv is another free service that hosts a résumé in Europass standard and it has many features and it is integrated with HR-XML system to share the résumé as well.


  • Euro CV, Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Paris, Top Editions, 1997. ISBN 2 87 73 1131 7

See also


Further Reading

  • Bennett, Scott A. The Elements of Résumé Style: Essential Rules and Eye-Opening Advice for Writing Résumés and Cover Letters that Work. AMACOM, 2005 ISBN 0-8144-7280-X.
  • Whitcomb, Susan Britton. Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer, Third Edition. JIST Publishing, 2006. ISBN 978-1593573119.
resume in Arabic: سيرة ذاتية
resume in Catalan: Currículum vitae
resume in Danish: Curriculum vitæ
resume in German: Lebenslauf
resume in Spanish: Curriculum vitae
resume in Persian: کارنامک
resume in French: Curriculum vitæ
resume in Italian: Curriculum
resume in Hebrew: קורות חיים
resume in Lithuanian: CV
resume in Dutch: Curriculum vitae
resume in Japanese: 履歴書
resume in Norwegian: Curriculum vitae
resume in Norwegian Nynorsk: Curriculum vitae
resume in Polish: Curriculum vitae
resume in Portuguese: Curriculum vitae
resume in Russian: Резюме
resume in Serbian: Биографија
resume in Finnish: Ansioluettelo
resume in Swedish: Curriculum vitae
resume in Vietnamese: Sơ yếu lý lịch
resume in Ukrainian: Резюме
resume in Contenese: 履歷
resume in Chinese: 履歷

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Clio, Muse of history, adventures, annals, autobiography, battologize, begin again, biographical sketch, biography, carry on, case history, chronicle, chronicles, chronology, come again, come up again, confessions, continue, copy, core, critique, curriculum vitae, diary, dwelling upon, echo, elaboration, epitome, essence, experiences, fill, fortunes, get back, gist, give an encore, go back, go back to, go on, go over, go through, going over, hagiography, hagiology, have another shot, have another try, historiography, history, iterate, iteration, journal, keep coming, keep up, legend, life, life and letters, life story, main point, martyrology, meat, memoir, memoirs, memorabilia, memorial, memorials, necrology, obituary, pad, photobiography, pick up, pith, practice, practicing, profile, ransom, reaffirm, reaffirmation, reappear, reassert, rebegin, recap, recapitulate, recapitulation, recapture, recital, recite, reclaim, recommence, record, recount, recountal, recounting, recoup, recover, recuperate, recur, redeem, reenter, regain, rehash, rehearsal, rehearse, reissue, reiterate, reiteration, renew, renovate, reoccupy, reoccur, reopen, repeat, replevin, replevy, repossess, reprint, resound, restate, restatement, restore, retail, retake, retell, retelling, retrieve, return, return to, reverberate, revert, review, revindicate, revive, reword, run over, run-through, rundown, say over, say over again, start all over, story, substance, sum, sum and substance, sum up, summarize, summary, summation, summing up, summing-up, take back, take up, take up again, tautologize, theory of history
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