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Resume vs. Curriculum Vitae:
Differences, Definitions, and Tips
You may have noticed some job postings ask for a resume, others ask for a CV, while a few may require applicants to submit a resume/CV.
So, how does a resume differ from a CV?
In a nutshell, resumes and CVs are both professional job application documents that, if done correctly, can get you interviews.
While some employers may use the terms interchangeably, there are a few clear-cut differences between the two personal marketing documents.
In this article, we dissect the puzzling topic of Resume vs. CV. This should help you decide whether to use a resume or a CV on your next job application.
What is a Resume?
First off, the word resume comes from the French word résumé, which means "summary." It's a short, concise document summarizing key facts about your skills, notable accomplishments, and work experience.
In most cases, you want to keep your resume as short as one page in length. The idea here is to quickly convey your skills and qualifications.
What if I have, say, 15+ years of experience? Fine, if you believe the extra info will add value to your job application, give it a shot.
However, just make sure you don't get past two pages. It's in your best interest to tailor your resume to the needs of the job posting.
What to Include in a Resume?
An average resume should contain:
- Contact information (including job title)
- Resume summary (or resume objective)
- Work experience
- Educational background
- Optional sections (licenses and certifications, awards, interests, hobbies, etc.)
You'll want to note that resumes don't have to be ordered chronologically. And they don't have to cover your whole career as well.
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What is a CV?
A CV is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae, which means "course of life" in Latin. Basically, a curriculum vitae is a full version of a resume.
A CV is a longer, more in-depth document showcasing the whole course of your career, including your academic and research background.
Unlike resumes that restrict you to one-to-two pages, CVs significantly vary by length. Some CVs can be as short as two-to-three pages, while others can be as long as 10+ pages.
In the US and Canada, a CV is strictly used for academic qualifications: to apply for grad school, grants, senior academic positions, fellowships, scholarships, etc.
Ideally, when people say "academic resume" in the US, what they mean is the CV. In the UK, a CV is a document you submit as part of a non-academic job application.
Note that whether you're in the UK or US, you'll generally submit a CV when applying to an academic position in a higher learning institution, such as a university.
Britons don't use the word resume whatsoever. Therefore, a CV may be considered a longer version of both the American resume and the regular British CV in this context.
What to Include in a CV?
Your curriculum vitae may include some or all of the following, depending on the scope of your experience:
- Contact information
- Personal profile, research objective or personal statement
- Professional academic appointment
- Peer-reviewed publications
- Book chapters
- Other publications
- Awards and honors
- Grants and fellowships
- Teaching experience
- Research experience, graduate fieldwork, or lab experience
- Non-academic activities
- Languages and skills
As stated, CVs present a complete history of your scholarly achievements, research experience, publications, fellowships and the like. As a result, there is no length requirement on CVs.
You'll also want to format your CV in chronological order starting with your educational experience. And be sure to include information relevant to the position you're applying for.
Pro Tip: Start by curating a list of all your academic achievements and background info, and then organize them into categories.
Resume vs. CV: The Differences in a Nutshell
To sum up everything, there are four major differences between a resume and a CV, including:
A resume is a brief, one-to-two-page summary of your professional accomplishments, experience, and skills relevant to the job you're applying to.
A CV has no page limit and presents an in-depth look at the entire course of your academic career. CVs may range between three and ten pages depending on the scope of your scholarly credentials.
A resume is used for job hunting in all non-academic industries. You can also use it when applying for a job in a non-profit and public sector.
A CV is used when applying for jobs and admissions in academia. You can use it to apply for teaching or research positions, graduate programs, fellowships, grants, and more.
A resume is a dynamic document that needs to be optimized to fit the specific job you're applying to. You'll want to study each job posting carefully and tailor your resume to each prospective employer.
A CV is a static document that's not customized for the job qualifications being sought. Academic CVs typically become longer over the years as you gain additional skills, experience or education.
A resume has no particular format and can be shuffled around to suit the applicant. However, consider outlining your skills and professional experience in bullet points.
A CV features a clear chronological order listing the whole course of your career. When writing a CV, use only plain paragraphs with no bullet points.
The above differences between a resume and a CV hold true for the US and Canadian job markets. But what about the differences from an international perspective?
Resume vs. CV: International Outlook
In most European nations (including the UK and Ireland) and New Zealand, the term "CV" is the same as a US resume.
Notably, the term "CV" is more prevalent in mainland Europe. You'll want to check the European Union CV format and tailor your CV to match the standard requirements.
More often than not, European countries rarely use the term "resume." Nonetheless, most hiring managers across Europe understand what the document is – a short, targeted document showcasing a job seeker's key skills and qualifications.
In Australia and South Africa, the words resume and CV mean the same thing and may be used interchangeably. They both refer to a brief, one-to-two-page document used to apply for jobs in non-academic positions.
In the two countries, the term "resume" is commonly used in the private sector, while "CV" is used when applying for positions in government positions or public service.
In South Asia, you might need to write a slightly different document known as a biodata. It follows the same format as the US resume or the European CV but is more focused on personal, "biographical" information.
A biodata should include your date of birth, gender, marital status, ethnicity, race, and salary. You can use the document to apply for jobs in India and Bangladesh.
Resume vs. CV: When to Use Which?
Whether to submit a resume or a CV will be dependent upon the role you're applying for and the geographical location of the position.
If you're eyeing a non-academic gig in the US or Canada, consider submitting a resume and a cover letter.
In any position outside academia – and in certain scientific or medical specialties – your education is less important.
But if you're applying for a teaching or research position at an institution of higher learning in the US, you should create a CV.
In academic posts, the hiring committee is interested to know every nitty-gritty detail regarding your educational background. And a CV offers the best way to communicate this information.
If you're applying for a position in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and other European countries, submit a CV— and remember that it has pretty much the same format as the American resume.
Resume and CV are synonymous in Australia and South Africa. Because the two terms are often used interchangeably, it's OK to submit either.
In general, though, the vast majority of job postings will ask for a short, targeted document revolving around your most relevant qualifications. And that's none other than a resume!
About the Author
Kristina Kirby is a writer, who is passionate about technologies and their positive influence on our society. Currently, she’s working on startup Resumist.com, which provides professional resume templates for users and helps them create job-winning resumes.
When she is not writing, she enjoys drawing, singing, and bike riding.