What’s the Difference Between a CV and a Resume?

    • cv-vs-resume
    April 21, 2017

    When applying for a job, it’s not uncommon to be asked to attach a resume or CV to provide more information about your educational background and relevant experience. Most people attach a resume and don’t give it a second thought. But what about the CV? What is it, and how is it different from a resume? When should you use a CV, and when should you use a resume? Putting your accomplishments down on paper for prospective employers to determine whether or not they want to work with you can be a daunting task, so it’s wise to make sure that you’re giving them exactly what they’re looking for.

    What is a resume?

    A resume is basically a consolidated list of your educational background, your work history, relevant experience, and credentials. Its primary purpose is to give hiring managers a better idea of an applicant’s background and to help sort through who is qualified and a potential fit for the job and who may not be ideal. A resume is usually not more than two pages, and some companies won’t even look at a resume longer than one page. It might be helpful to simply ask when applying for a job if they prefer a resume of a certain length - being proactive in asking questions can not only save you time, but can also make sure you’re focusing your energy in the right places. A resume can be organized chronologically, or in order of relevance, and, in most cases, resumes should be altered to fit the needs of different jobs being applied for.

    Fun fact: The word “resume” comes from the French word meaning “a summary”.

    What is a CV?

    A CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is similar to a professional resume, but is much longer and much more detailed. A CV lists a detailed history of your educational background, work history, as well as extra achievements such as awards, publications, honors, and other accolades and experiences that might set you apart from others. A CV is typically 2-3 pages long, and, unlike a resume, is not meant to be changed for each job being applied for. A cover letter is used to highlight individual career objectives in accompaniment to the CV.

    Fun fact: The words “Curriculum Vitae” means “course of life” in Latin.

    When should I use a resume, and when should I use a CV?

    For the most part, professional resumes are widely used across the U.S. and Canada, while CVs are the standard in the U.K., Europe, Ireland, and New Zealand. If you are an American or Canadian applying for a position in one of the countries that uses CVs, it’s best to transfer your resume information over to a CV format, adding to it as necessary to meet the standard length and content recommendations. The same goes for someone from a country that uses CVs applying for a position in the U.S. or Canada - it’s best to switch to the resume format.

    There are a few instances in the U.S. and Canada when a CV is preferred, and those are positions in certain fields or with certain organizations. Jobs within highly specialized fields are more likely to make use of a CV than a resume, because the kinds of experience and qualifications necessary are much greater than many other job types, and with that comes more competition, making good use of sections about awards, accolades, publications, and relevant experience. This would pertain to specialized medical and science based jobs, research jobs, and higher-level academia positions.

    Give the Manager What They’re Asking For

    One of the quickest ways to stand out in a pile of applications and resumes is to give the hiring manager exactly what they’re looking for. Sometimes the application instructions or job description will list exactly what they want from an applicant. If that information is not listed, you may be able to find it on the company website if they have an opportunity section. If that’s not readily available to you, it’s not unacceptable to call the company to find out just what it is that they’re looking for. You never know, the person answering your questions might be in charge of hiring or work closely with who is, and taking initiative is often seen as a positive trait in the workplace.


    So, follow the standard for the type of job you’re seeking, and the country in which you seek it; and if you are unclear about what you should include or how long your professional resume should be, simply pick up the phone, and ask!



      Popular Articles