What's a CV Anyway?

by Alison Sperling

on November 9, 2010

When I first started working at Stack Overflow, I wondered why the candidate’s work experience is referred to as a CV on Stack Overflow Careers. I honestly thought Stack Overflow might be a European company or maybe they were just being snobs. A resume is your work experience written up on a piece of paper – job sites, employers, recruiters, and everyone else, it seems, uses “resume”.

So, what gives with Stack Overflow Careers? Why CV and not resume? I learned pretty quickly that a CV encompasses your accomplishments in a more detailed format than a traditional resume. In fact, Curriculum Vitae roughly translates as “course of my life”. It’s true that CVs are used widely in academics and medical fields as a way to list accomplishments and credentials that go beyond a specific job role. A CV is updated anytime you have something meaningful to add – maybe it’s the sales from that software you designed or a new qualification or something else awesome that you did.  Conversely, a resume is a document that you scrape together when you’re desperately looking for a new job.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="I iz a pro!"]While his fashion sense is questionable, this smart kitteh has a CV![/caption]

A CV is more than just about your job experience and chances are most developers don’t just program at work –they likely have a blog, a website, a side project and other professional passions too. Many developers create viable products while in college or high school.  This is terrific experience to show on your CV, painting a more accurate picture of your programming expertise.

While it would be easier for Stack Overflow Careers to use “resume” like everyone else, we think your programming experience is more valuable than a 1 page list of past jobs. Plus, really, we're saving bytes by the bucket load.

PS – If you are looking for something new for the next course in your life, you might want to keep in mind Stack Overflow is looking to hire more great developers!