A Resume Accent

A Resume Accent

Resume Accent

You're well-qualified for your dream job and track record of success. All you need to do is get that part-time summer gig to make your resume standout. But, with the competitive Labor Day back to school season, you hardly have time to even send out your application.


After taking 7 years of French and spending years as a copywriter, I am applying for a job with an internationally renowned company. While I'm certain my "Resume" would be acceptable, it will be transmitted as a "Résumé" in deference to the company's international ties. Incidentally, I did a spell check using only one accent on the final "e" and Word (2003) spell check corrected it with both accents!

Like a résumé, a curriculum vitae is a summary of work experience and other background information that might be relevant to someone reading a job or school application. A CV is more likely to be asked for in academia than at your average, run-of-the-mill job in the United States. It also typically refers to a much more detailed summary—describing published papers and awards under a job or education heading rather than only listing a title and short description of duties, for instance. The fact that a CV is so comprehensive makes sense, as curriculum vitae means “course of life” in Latin. (Source: www.dictionary.com)


All factors considered, I think “resumé” (one accent), though it has no historical basis, is the best spelling for this word when used as an English word to refer to a summary of someone’s qualifications for employment. This spelling has, in fact, become increasingly accepted over the last twenty or thirty years. “Resumé” in this sense is an English word, not a French one. It’s not pronounced like the French word. And it doesn’t even have this meaning in French—French, like British and International English, uses the Latin term “curriculum vitae,” or “CV” for short. (Both terms have a narrower sense in the U.S.)

I agree that an accent over the second e is helpful in distinguishing the word from the other word, but it's usually pretty clear from context what is meant. The part of the discussion that got my attention was the whole notion that CVs and resumes are interchangeable, when they are most decidedly NOT. I've worked in science, education, and health care, and I actually need both a CV and a resume. The difference is quite vividly outlined in this little online advice column: (Source: painintheenglish.com)


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