There is often confusion surrounding resumes and Curriculum Vitae (CVs), and when it is appropriate to submit either one. The confusion is compounded because the terms CV and resume can mean different things to hiring managers in different parts of the world.
This article will lay out the differences between each document and tell you what each document should contain. We also provide an example of a CV and a resume. This article will explain what the terms CV and resume refer to depending on where you are in the world, and, lastly, which one you should use if you are applying for a position internationally.
A resume is typically one or two pages along (one, ideally) and is used in business contexts. A CV is longer, and it details your career over time. A CV is typically used for academic job search purposes. Here’s a summary of the differences.
Ideally, one page long
No page limit
Only shows skills and experience relevant to the job opening
Documents a career history in detail
Used for recruitment in business contexts
Popular in academic, science, and research positions
Curriculum Vitae is Latin for “course of life.” A CV is a detailed document that describes the whole course of your career in full detail and in chronological order. The CV also includes an education section, awards, publications, honors, and other achievements. In the United States and Canada, a CV is usually only used for applications for academic jobs, grants, and research fellowships.
Whenever a person changes jobs, wins an award, or something noteworthy occurs, they update their CV so that it becomes a complete summary of their academic or professional career. CVs also emphasize credentials, such as education milestones and certifications, over skills.
A CV has no length limit and, depending on the level a person has reached in their career, it could be 20 or more pages long!
A well-written CV should include the following,
name, professional title, and contact information:
publications written or contributed to
non-academic work history and experience
honors, awards, and certifications earned
academic degrees and qualifications
Anything that a prospective employer might be interested in can be included in a CV.
Here’s an example of a (brief) CV that you can download at this link.
It might seem that a resume is just a shorter version of the CV, and it is. But there are other differences between the two that you should bear in mind when resume writing.
Your resume should be more targeted to a specific job description. Think of it as a marketing tool. Typically, a CV will be read from beginning to end because the reader is interested in the person’s complete background, education, and work experience.
However, a resume is different, and a recruiter will typically scan a resume and make a decision within a few seconds as to whether that candidate should be shortlisted for a job. That is, if the applicant tracking system has not already discarded the application.
So, a resume has to have an immediate impact and be visually appealing. The information that is most important to the recruiter should jump out. That’s why a CV format is typically only one page in length.
Additionally, resumes are competency-based. They should emphasize the skills and experience that make you a good fit for the job title you are applying for. In fact, your resume should exclude any information that is not relevant to the job.
A good resume should including the following:
Here are some resume tips and resume templates, and below is a completed resume example. Notice that the resume format is uncluttered and makes good use of bullet points, the person’s skills and education can be easily picked out, and only the person’s most recent positions are included. You can download this resume template here.
Just to confuse you, in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa, a CV is the same as a resume in the United States. It is a short document for job applications.
For the international job seeker, here’s a summary of what the terms CV and resume refer to different parts of the world and which one is preferred depending on the scenario.
In South Asia, a CV and resume are the same thing, but some recruiters also ask that you submit a biodata. This is a document that shows your date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, marital status, and salary.
Here are a few guiding principles based on geography:
North America (non-academic job): Submit a customized resume
North America (academic job): Submit a CV with your full academic/professional history
Europe and New Zealand: Submit a CV that is the equivalent of a US resume—a short, customized document
Australia and South Africa: Submit a resume. Here, a CV and a resume are synonymous
South Asia: Submit a resume. A CV and resume are synonymous, but you might also need to submit a biodata
To summarize, the terms CV vs resume can be confusing, not least because they mean different things in different countries. However, in the United States, a CV is a long version of a resume that includes your academic career, professional achievements, work history, education, skills, awards, and achievements. It focuses on education, research, and any teaching experience because it is most used in academic environments.
A resume, on the other hand, is a short version of your work history and your relevant skills that are most applicable to the job you are applying for. A resume focuses on skills and is used mostly for job seekers in non-academic contexts.