Why do some candidates apply with a CV and others use a resume? Is any of the two actually better than the other?
In 5 minutes you’ll learn everything you need to know about the CV vs. resume difference.
This guide will show you:
For starters, here’s a quick rundown of what a CV is and what it stands for.
A CV (full form Curriculum Vitae which is Latin for “course of life”) is an in-depth document which describes the whole course of your career in full detail. It’s usually two- or three-page long but can just as well be laid out over 10+ pages, if necessary. A Curriculum Vitae contains details about your education, professional career, publications, awards, honors, and other achievements. In the USA and Canada, a CV is used only for academic applications: academic jobs, grants, research fellowships, etc.
To see what it looks like check out the CV example below.
Sample CV made with our builder—See more templates and create your CV here.
For more examples and guidelines on how to write an American CV, see: How to Write a US CV for Academic Applications (Examples)
As you can see, a CV is very detailed and comprehensive: many sections, no bullet points, just plain text (after all, CV meaning is acourse of life, no wonder it’s that long!)
Below you’ll see a full list of sections to put on a CV.
Before we show you a full resume/CV comparison, let’s quickly define résumé.
A resume (or résumé, from French “to sum up”) is a short, concise document used for job applications in the US and Canada. The purpose of a resume is to provide recruiters with a brief overview of the candidate’s work history. A good resume should be targeted at a specific job and one to two pages long.
Have a look at the below example of a resume made with our builder. The difference between a resume and a CV is clear, isn’t it?
One of our users, Nikos, had this to say:
[I used] a nice template I found on Zety. My resume is now one page long, not three. With the same stuff.
If you want to learn more about how to write a job-winning resume, switch over to: How to Make a Resume for a Job (Samples & a Writing Guide)
What should be on a resume, then?
Before we move on, a technical thing that confuses many job seekers: How to type a resume?
Although originally spelled “résumé” in French, in English both forms—”resume” and “résumé”—are correct.
To sum up, then:
The difference between a CV and a resume lies in the length, layout, and purpose of these documents. CVs have no length limit; resumes are typically one to two pages long. A CV details the whole course of the candidate’s academic career; a resume summarizes skills and work experience. CVs are used for academic purposes, resumes—to apply for jobs.
All of the above holds true for the US and Canada.
But what about international applications?
In all of Europe (the UK, Ireland, and other European countries), as well as New Zealand, the term CV is used to describe an equivalent of a US resume: a short, targeted document you use to apply for jobs. There’s no such thing as a “resume” there.
There are only minor, region-specific differences between a New Zealand or European CV and an American resume. To learn more about writing a job CV, see: How to Write a CV for a Job (UK, Other European Countries, New Zealand)
In Australia and South Africa, “Curriculum Vitae” and “resume” are synonyms that can be used interchangeably. Both words refer to a brief, one- to two-page document.
In South Asia, job seekers might need to use a slightly different document: a biodata. It’s a document which contains more personal, “biographical” data (hence the name): date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, marital status, and salary. It’s commonly used in India and Bangladesh.
If a South Asian employer asks you for a “resume” or a “CV” specifically, don’t send over a biodata. Go for a document that follows the American resume rules.
Here’s all you need to know about the resume/CV differences and when to use which document:
I hope this article helped clear up the differences between CVs and resumes. If you're still not sure about some points, leave a comment. I'll answer all your CV vs. resume questions!
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