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

Closeup of hands passing a resume after knowing the difference between a CV and a resume.

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In job hunting and job applications, there are two words that most job seekers may be using interchangeably — CV and resume. Approach a handful of professionals and odds are high that only some of them know how to differentiate the use of CV from resume. 

What is a CV? 

CV or curriculum vitae is a comprehensive document that lists qualifications for employment, primarily focused on professional experience in the academe. Examples for the position would be a teaching appointment at an institution or a research position. If you were to approach Ph.D. candidates, they would have CVs, not resumes. It is mentioned that a CV is a comprehensive document because it goes above and beyond mentioning education and work experiences. It further details your achievements, awards, honors, and publications. Again, content that universities would be interested in. 

But CVs aren’t that limited! Usually, when applying to work abroad, other countries actually state their explicit preference of your submission of a CV rather than other types of formats. The CV even prevails so much in the European Union that they have a “European Union CV” format available online for the general public. 

While both CV and resume both provide information about an individual’s educational and work history, resumes are much shorter and not as comprehensive as the typical CV.

What is a resume? 

A resume is a summary of your background and experience, with emphasis on your work experience, hence not as comprehensive. To be specific, resumes are typically two pages or less, while CVs can be as long as you need in writing out your academic background and experience.  Yet, even with the shorter length, resumes are needed to be tailored for different positions more than CVs do. As to what positions resumes can be used for, other than academic positions for CVs, resumes then are mostly used for the rest of the positions, unless stated otherwise. 

In summary, length is the biggest determinant in telling apart a CV from a resume. Besides this, if you’re still unsure as to which format you will need to do, don’t treat it as a guessing game. Usually, recruiters will be explicit in stating which format they would want you to submit but if they didn’t, please do reach out to the point of contact directly. As we say, “Better to be safe than sorry!” 

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