Difference Between a CV and Resume

Difference Between a CV and Resume

When applying for a job, you might encounter two primary documents requested by employers: a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a resume. These documents serve as a key to unlock job opportunities, but they cater to different professional requirements, follow varying formats, and emphasize distinct aspects of an individual’s professional life. Understanding the differences, applications, and how to tailor each can significantly affect your job prospects.

Definition and Core Differences

Curriculum Vitae (CV): A CV is a comprehensive document that details the entire course of your academic and professional achievements. It is exhaustive in nature, presenting a full history of your educational, academic, and professional activities. A CV includes education, publications, awards, memberships, presentations, professional affiliations, honors, and other detailed accomplishments. It is commonly used where academic credentials are essential, such as in higher education, medical fields, and scientific research positions. A CV has no length limit and grows as your experience does.

Resume: A resume is a concise summary of your skills, education, and experience relevant to a particular job. Unlike a CV, a resume is not meant to be comprehensive. Instead, it should be a highly tailored document that highlights your qualifications for the specific job you are applying for. Resumes are typically one to two pages long depending on your experience level, with a focus on brevity and relevance to the job.

Purpose and Usage

The fundamental difference lies in the geographical usage and the specific purpose of the document. In the United States and Canada, the term resume is commonly used for almost every job application outside of academics and research, where a CV is preferred. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, employers may expect to receive a CV even for non-academic positions.

CVs are detailed and structured listings of a job seeker’s achievements, and they are primarily used when applying for international, academic, education, scientific, or research positions, or when applying for fellowships or grants. Within academic circles, the CV is crucial as it gives a comprehensive insight into one’s career path.

Resumes, by contrast, are used when applying for private sector or non-academic public sector jobs. They are preferred for highlighting professional experience and skills when the job relies more on practical abilities rather than academic background.

Content and Structure

CV Structure:

  • Personal Details: Name, contact details, and sometimes a professional title or summary.
  • Education: Detailed list, starting from the most recent qualification.
  • Academic Background: Positions held, research, thesis or dissertation topics, degrees pursued.
  • Publications and Presentations: Articles, books, conference presentations, and other relevant publications.
  • Professional Experience: Relevant work experience, including roles and responsibilities.
  • Skills and Certifications: Comprehensive list of skills and certifications.
  • Awards and Honors: Academic, professional, or industry awards and honors.
  • Professional Memberships: List of organizations or bodies the applicant is a member of.
  • References: Often included, especially in academic and research fields.

Resume Structure:

  • Contact Information: Name, phone number, email, and sometimes a LinkedIn profile.
  • Professional Summary: Brief overview of your career highlights and skills.
  • Professional Experience: Focused on relevant work experience, significant achievements, and roles held.
  • Education: Brief listing, often only the highest degree or relevant certifications.
  • Skills: Relevant skills to the job being applied to.
  • Additional Sections: May include languages, projects, volunteer work, depending on the job relevance.


Tailoring a CV or resume is crucial for standing out in job applications. For CVs, it involves emphasizing elements that are most relevant to the academic or scientific positions, such as research interests or specialized academic training. For resumes, it’s about aligning your skills and experiences with the job description to make it clear why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

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In conclusion, whether you provide a CV or a resume depends on the job, the industry, and the geographical location. Knowing how to craft each document according to the expectations and norms of the industry you’re applying to can greatly increase your chances of securing an interview. Always keep in mind that a CV is extensive and continuous, suitable for academia and fields where depth of experience is crucial, whereas a resume is succinct and tailored, designed to quickly showcase how your skills and experiences make you the best fit for a specific role. Understanding and utilizing these differences effectively can be a critical factor in a successful job search.


Q1: What is the main difference between a CV and a resume?

A: The main difference is the length, content, and purpose. A CV is a detailed document that outlines your entire academic and professional history, often spanning several pages. It’s used primarily in academic, scientific, or research positions. A resume, on the other hand, is a concise summary of your skills, education, and experience, tailored to a specific job, usually one or two pages long.

Q2: When should I use a CV instead of a resume?

A: You should use a CV when applying for academic, education, scientific research, or international jobs. It is also commonly required for positions in the medical field. A CV allows you to provide extensive detail about your academic and research experiences, publications, awards, and other professional accomplishments.

Q3: What specific information does a CV include that a resume does not?

A: A CV includes detailed information about academic history including teaching experience, degrees, research, awards, publications, presentations, and other achievements. CVs may also include detailed descriptions of academic projects and dissertations, as well as professional affiliations and conferences attended.

Q4: Can a resume include information on publications and conferences like a CV?

A: Yes, but typically in a much more abbreviated form. On a resume, you might only include select publications or presentations that are directly relevant to the job you are applying for. The key is to keep the resume concise and focused on the skills and experiences that align with the job description.

Q5: How long should my resume or CV be?

A: A resume should ideally be one to two pages long, depending on your level of experience. A CV, however, can be much longer because it includes more comprehensive details about your academic and professional background.

Q6: Is it acceptable to use a template for my CV or resume?

A: Yes, using a template can help organize your information in a clear and professional manner. However, it’s important to customize the template to suit your specific needs and the norms of your industry. Always ensure the final document reflects your individual qualifications and the requirements of the job you are applying for.

Q7: Do I need a different CV for each job application?

A: While your CV contains comprehensive details, it’s advisable to tailor it for specific roles or institutions by emphasizing the most relevant experiences and accomplishments. For a resume, customization is crucial and should align closely with the job description to highlight how your skills and experiences make you the best candidate for the position.

Q8: What is the most common mistake people make on their CVs or resumes?

A: One of the most common mistakes is including too much irrelevant information. For a CV, it’s important to include only pertinent academic and professional details. For a resume, every piece of information should support your candidacy for the specific role. Other common errors include poor formatting, typos, and incorrect contact information.

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