Over the course of your professional and academic career, you’ve probably created a CV or two. Or were those resumes? Is there actually a CV vs resume difference, and how to know which of these two to use?
It does take a little bit of explaining because pinpointing the difference between a CV and a resume depends on where you’re from. Many use the two terms interchangeably—in some European countries, for example, a CV is the US equivalent of a resume. In other parts of the world, these two documents are quite different.
Read this article to learn what the differences really are and which document you should use for what occasion.
The main differences between a CV and a resume are in their length, content, and application.
A CV is a longer document focused on the applicant’s educational history and used when applying for academic positions.
A resume is a shorter document (usually one page) tailored to a specific job posting, and it’s focused on career-specific work history, skills, and achievements.
The CV vs resume differences vary in different regions. They are most apparent in the US, while some other regions use the two terms synonymously.
CV vs Resume—What Are the Main Differences?
Let’s start with the basics. A CV stands for “Curriculum Vitae," which is a Latin expression for "a course of life." This is a detailed document that thoroughly describes your entire academic career. It is usually several pages long, sometimes even going up to 10+ pages.
In academia, CVs are used to apply for grants, research fellowships, academic jobs, and other similar opportunities. As a result, these documents should extensively describe your educational history along with any awards, honors, publications, and related achievements in this sphere.
On the other hand, a resume is a French word (résumé, to be specific), and it translates as “summary.” As the name suggests, it’s a brief and concise document you use to apply for a job.
A resume emphasizes your work history and skills, along with the most prominent educational achievements. It’s usually one page long but can go up to two or three in special cases.
Your CV remains the same no matter what you're using it for, but a good resume should be tailored to fit a particular job posting. In some countries, however, the CV vs resume differences aren’t clear-cut.
Let’s now summarize the key differences between a CV and a resume:
CV vs. Resume
1 page long
Focus on skills and work experience
Used for a job application
No page limit
Focus on academic achievements
Used for an academic application
Generally, remains the same
If you’re not sure what type of document you need, we’ll help you determine this throughout the article!
What is a CV?
A CV is a document that is bigger than a resume, with plenty of different categories. Its length is not limited, so you should list as much relevant information as you can. As mentioned previously, people in the US use it to apply for academic roles.
Here are the sections a CV format should contain:
CV Format Sections
Personal information. This section should include your full name, phone number, email address, and location. Adding your professional title and relevant social media handles is optional.
Personal statement. A personal statement is a short introduction to your CV that briefly describes your professional and academic background and objectives.
Education. This part of your CV is dedicated to your educational background—for example, the school and university you attended.
Publications. This section should contain a list of the content you created and published.
Professional experience. The professional experience part of your resume should include the details of your work history.
Conferences and courses. Adding this section to your CV is the perfect opportunity to mention additional education you received outside your formal education.
Teaching Experience. If youworked as a teacher at some point, you should mention that in your CV as well. This is particularly useful if you’re applying for the position of a professor or similar roles.
Awards. In this part, you can listthe awards you’ve obtained in your professional and academic career.
Languages. When listing the languages you speak in your CV, you should also include your proficiency level for each.
Skills. It’s a list of the relevant soft and hard skills in your field of work that you possess.
Memberships (Societies). This section shouldrepresent your interests, priorities, and professional commitments.
References. Finally, you can list some contacts who can vouch for your skills and performance.
Here’s a real-life curriculum vitae example to give you a better idea of what a CV template should look like:
You can see that this is an extensive document that summarizes the candidate’s entire career. It features a complete educational history with all the majors, degrees, and diplomas. Additionally, there are all the relevant courses and publications that supplement their formal education.
You can also notice a full list of the applicant's accomplishments and the important skills they've picked up along the way. Finally, since it’s clear that the CV is supposed to help the candidate land an academic job, you may notice that the candidate’s academic history comes before the professional one.
What is a Resume?
As opposed to a CV, a resume is a short, usually one-page long document you should use if you’re applying for a specific job. It’s best to tailor it to a particular job posting and make a new version for each new application.
There are several vital sections every resume should contain, including:
Resume Format Sections
Personal information. In this section, you shouldinclude your professional title, full name, phone number, professional email address, and your city. Optionally, you can add the links to your website and social media handles.
Resume summary. This should be a short section containing 2-3 sentences that will highlight your most valuable skills and achievements.
Work experience. This is the most important section on a resume. It should feature the previous companies you worked for, positions you held, start and end dates, and your highest achievements during those employment periods.
Education. This section serves to showcase your educational background and academic achievements.
Skills. In this part, you should list your industry-specific hard skills first, and then supplement them with a collection of transferable soft skills. By checking out your competencies, the recruiter can determine whether you’d make a good addition to their team.
Additional sections.The contents of this section vary depending on the job position you’re interested in. They can include anything from relevant certifications, languages, and professional affiliations to memberships, hobbies, and interests.
Now, let’s clarify the CV vs resume dilemma through a real-life example of a resume:
Notice how a resume is short, concise, and adjusted to match a specific job posting, which is why the order of information is different than the one on a CV. The main focus is on work history and relevant skills.
There’s the section about the applicant’s education, but it’s used to build up on their work experience and further highlight their abilities. Additional sections take up much less space and serve to complete the picture of the candidate while remaining highly related to the work position.
CV vs Resume—Differences in the US
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, the CV vs resume differences are most apparent in the US. "Resume" is a more common term, and this document is used when applying for a job. Due to anti-discrimination laws, it should only include basic personal information and no picture, ethnicity, exact address, or similar. The education section is there to add to the work experience.
On the other hand, CV is used for academic purposes. It includes much more information than a resume and, therefore, can have many pages. Its main focus is the candidate’s education history, including all the additional courses, certifications, degrees, achievements, and more.
So, what is a CV for a job, and when should you use it? You’ll use a CV in the US when applying for a position in academia, whether it’s a teaching, research, postdoctoral, or any other similar position.
International Differences Between CV and Resume
Unlike in the US, the terms “CV” and “resume” are much more synonymous around the world. However, there are still some differences, depending on the region.
In Europe, a CV and a resume mean the same thing. However, the term “resume” isn’t as common in Europe as in the US, even though recruiters still know what it is.
As a result, candidates send CVs when applying for jobs. On the other hand, if you’re applying for academic positions, you may be required to submit an "academic CV."
It’s also common for a CV resume format to include a candidate’s picture. As mentioned previously, that’s usually forbidden in the US due to anti-discriminatory laws.
In Asia, the CV vs resume differences vary between countries. In China, people use resumes, while the terms "CV" and "resume" are used interchangeably in India. Also, these documents are usually two pages long in India and may feature a lot more personal information than in Europe or the US.
If you're in Australia, wondering whether to submit a CV or resume in PDF format as your job application, you're in luck! The two terms are used synonymously in this country. They both describe a short and concise document that is the equivalent of a resume in the US.
In Africa, many employers expect candidates to send CVs, usually with a photograph attached. The CV template, however, closely resembles a US resume. The document is one to two pages long and can sometimes be synonymously called a resume, as well.
And that’s it!
Hopefully, this article clears up all your CV vs resume dilemmas. Now you know exactly what the differences are, in which parts of the world they are apparent, and in which regions these two terms are pretty much synonyms.
Knowing the difference between the two will help you choose an appropriate option when applying for a position. You’ll also know what sections you should emphasize in each document and how you should format your CV or resume to get the most out of it.
Apply these principles, and you’ll be one step closer to landing your dream job!