Difference between a CV and a Resume

Updated on June 15, 2017

If you have ever applied for or are currently applying for a job, you probably have noticed that some job postings instruct you to submit your resume while others say to prepare your CV. As a job applicant, it is very important to show your future employer that you know how to follow instructions by submitting the right kind document. But what is the difference between a CV and a resume? Read on.

Descriptions

CV

The acronym CV comes from the Latin phrase curriculum vitae which literally means “course of life.” A CV is a comprehensive document that includes a highly detailed description of your academic and professional background.

In the United States, a CV is normally required by an employer if you work in the field of academia, science, or medicine; if you are seeking fellowship and grants; or if you are seeking a job abroad. In Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Asia, a CV is required regardless of the nature of the industry or work.

Because a CV contains a thorough overview of yourself, it can be as long as three to four pages if you are still beginning to build your career. If you have been in the industry for decades, however, your CV can be more than ten pages long.

A CV normally includes:

  • A brief biography
  • Contact details
  • All courses or programs completed
  • Academic research
  • Scientific research
  • Field or laboratory experience
  • An overview of a completed thesis or dissertation
  • Books and other published papers you have written
  • Scholarships, fellowships, and grants
  • Exhibitions
  • Professional experience and history, including your responsibilities
  • Academic and professional achievements
  • Skills, licenses, and certifications
  • Professional presentations or lectures
  • International experiences, such as studying or working abroad
  • Extracurricular activities such as organizational memberships
  • Interests and hobbies
  • References

The items under each category above are normally written in a chronological order. As you gain experience, your CV may be edited. However, whatever the position you are seeking, your CV does not have to be changed. This means that you can send the same CV to different employers.

On the other hand, the term resume comes from the French word résumé which means “to sum up.” It is an incisive document that contains your academic and professional background.

In the United States, a resume is required if you are seeking a position in a non-profit or public sector and any industry.

A resume is normally just one to two pages long. Its purpose is to make you stand out from the rest of the applicants without having the recruiter dwell on it for too long.

A resume normally covers:

  • Contact details
  • Relevant work history
  • Educational background
  • Relevant skills
  • References (optional)

The details of each item above are usually written in reverse chronological order. The content of your resume can be adjusted to highlight your skills and experience that match the position you are applying for. So if you are interested in the customer service position and lifeguard job opening, you should create two separate resumes.

It is important to note that in some countries, a CV and a resume are loosely interchangeable.

CV vs Resume

What, then, is the difference between a CV and a resume?

A CV provides an in-depth or detailed description of your academic and professional background. It can be three to four pages long if you are still in the early stages of your career, but it can be more than ten pages if you are an experienced professional who has been in the industry for several years. A resume, on the contrary, provides a concise overview of your relevant skills and experience. It is usually one to two pages long.

A CV includes details of your educational background and work experience such as completed courses or programs, honors, awards, scholarships, grants, theses, published works, skills, certifications, licenses, exhibitions, lectures, presentations, research or laboratory experience, international exposure, association memberships, etc. The details of each item are written in chronological order. The content of your CV does not have to be changed regardless of the position you are applying for.

A resume includes your biography, contact details, educational background, relevant skills, and job experience. These are usually listed in reverse chronological order. The contents can be changed according to the position you are applying for.

In the United States, a CV is normally required if you work in the medical, scientific, or academic field; if you are seeking fellowship and grants; or if you are seeking a job abroad. A resume is required if you are seeking a position in the non-profit or public sector or any industry (aside from science, medicine, and academia). In Europe, Africa, some Asian countries, and the Middle East, a CV is required regardless of the nature of the industry or work. In some parts of the world, however, a CV and a resume are loosely interchangeable.

Comparison Chart

CVResume
Comes from the Latin phrase curriculum vitae which literally means “course of life”Comes from the French word résumé which means “to sum up”
Provides a detailed description of your academic and professional backgroundProvides a concise overview of your relevant skills and experience
Includes details of your educational background and work experience, honors, awards, scholarships, grants, theses, published works, skills, certifications, licenses, exhibitions, lectures, presentations, research or laboratory experience, international exposure, association memberships, etc.Includes your biography, contact details, educational background, relevant skills, and job experience
Can be three to four pages long if you are in the early stages of your career but can be more than ten pages long if you have been in the industry many yearsTypically one to two pages long
Written in chronological orderUsually written in reverse chronological order
The content remains the same regardless of the position you are applying forThe content can be changed depending on the job position you are applying for
In the United States, a CV is normally required if you work in the medical, scientific, or academic field; if you are seeking fellowship and grants; or if you are seeking a job abroad; in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, a CV is required regardless of the nature of the industry or workIn the United States, a resume is required if you are seeking a position in the non-profit or public sector or any industry (aside from the medical, scientific, or academic field)