Difference between a Resume and a CV (Resume vs Curriculum Vitae)

Difference between a Resume and a CV (Resume vs Curriculum Vitae)

A resume is a brief, concise document summarizing your skills and experience tailored to the job you’re applying for, while a curriculum vitae (CV) is a comprehensive, detailed account of your entire academic and professional history, often used in academia, research, or in regions where CVs are standard for all job applications.

This article analyses the difference between a resume and a CV to help you consider the best option.

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Resume vs Curriculum Vitae: An Introduction

The resume and CV are two documents that are key tools for demonstrating your skills, experience, and qualifications to potential employers. While they share some common elements, their purposes, content, and length differ considerably, especially across different regions worldwide.

What Is a Resume?

A resume, a French word meaning “summary,” is a concise document, typically one to two pages long, highlighting your professional qualifications and experiences relevant to the job you’re applying for.

A resume gives prospective employers a snapshot of your skills, experience, accomplishments, and education.

Resumes typically include the following sections:

  • Contact information
  • Objective or summary statement
  • Skills
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Certifications, if any

Additional sections, such as awards and degree honours, volunteer work, publications, and relevant hobbies or interests, may also be included, depending on the job requirements and your individual experience.

The main purpose of a resume is to pique the interest of hiring managers and land you an interview. Therefore, it’s crucial to tailor your resume to each job you apply for, emphasizing the skills and experiences that align best with the job description.

What Is a Curriculum Vitae?

A curriculum vitae, often abbreviated as CV, is Latin for “course of life.” Unlike the resume, a CV is a more comprehensive document providing detailed information on your academic and professional history.

CVs are typically used when applying for academia, research, or science positions. Still, in some regions, such as Europe and Asia, CVs are commonly used for all job applications.

The typical sections included in a CV are:

  • Contact information
  • Objective or personal statement
  • Skills
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Publications and presentations
  • Grants and scholarships
  • Professional associations and licenses
  • Awards and honours
  • References

As you can see, a CV includes all the information in a resume and additional details. It provides a complete picture of your career trajectory and accomplishments in your field.

Unlike a resume tailored for each job, a CV is a static document updated over time, encompassing your entire career.

The Key Difference Between a Resume and a CV

Now that we’ve defined what a resume and CV are, let’s pinpoint their key differences:

  • Length: Resumes are concise and brief, ideally fitting on one to two pages, while CVs are lengthier and more comprehensive. A CV can extend well beyond two pages, detailing your academic achievements and professional experiences.
  • Purpose: Resumes are used predominantly in job applications, particularly in the United States, where employers prefer succinct documents. On the other hand, CVs are often used when applying for roles in academia, research, or grant proposals. However, a CV is the standard document for any job application in many countries outside the U.S., including the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand.
  • Content: Resumes are customized for each job application, highlighting the skills and experiences most relevant to the position. CVs, however, include a comprehensive list of your entire academic and professional history.
  • Layout: Resumes are often bulleted and fragmented to make them easy to read and highlight important points. CVs tend to have full sentences and paragraphs explaining experiences and accomplishments more clearly.

Resume vs CV

ResumeCurriculum Vitae (CV)
LengthTypically 1-2 pagesCan be much longer, detailing entire academic/professional career
PurposeSummarizes skills and experience relevant to a jobDetails full academic and professional history
CustomizationTailored for each job applicationStatic, comprehensive document, updated over time
UsagePredominantly in non-academic job applicationsOften used in academia, research, or outside the U.S. for any job application
ContentHighlights most relevant work experience and skillsLists all academic achievements, publications, and experiences
LayoutUses bullet points for easy readabilityOften uses full sentences and paragraphs for detailed explanations
Difference between a Resume and a CV (Resume vs Curriculum Vitae)

When to Use a Resume or a CV

Knowing whether to submit a resume or a CV will depend on the geographical location and the specific position for which you are applying.

In the United States and Canada, resumes are commonly used for private, public, and nonprofit sectors for non-academic positions. In contrast, CVs are used when applying for positions in academia and research or fellowships or grants.

In most of Europe, including the UK, Ireland, and other countries such as New Zealand and India, the term “CV” is used more widely for non-academic and academic positions.

However, a document referred to as a CV in these countries often resembles a resume in the U.S., tailored to each specific job and shorter than an academic CV.

In Australia, India, and South Africa, “resume” and “CV” are interchangeable.

Should I include references on my resume or CV?

You don’t need to include references on your resume. It is more common to note at the end of the document that “references are available upon request.” This is because employers typically only request them after the initial evaluation stages.

On the other hand, it can be common to include references in a CV, particularly those used within academic and research fields, as these can vouch for your research and academic work. Always remember to ask for permission before listing someone as a reference, and give them a heads up if they might be contacted.

Do I need a cover letter with both a resume and a CV?

Whether you submit a resume or a CV, a cover letter is typically expected unless the job posting specifically states otherwise. A cover letter allows you to introduce yourself, express your interest in the position, and highlight key qualifications that make you a strong candidate.

A cover letter is a chance to present a narrative about your career path and explain how your experiences align with the job you’re applying for. This makes it a valuable complement to resumes and CVs, which tend to be more factual and less narrative-based.

While a resume or CV outlines your skills, experience, and education, a cover letter is where you can truly let your personality and passion shine through, making it a critical component of the job application process.

Is it necessary to include an objective or personal profile in a resume and CV?

An objective statement can benefit entry-level candidates or career changers, clearly outlining career goals aligned with the job they’re applying for.

A personal profile, or summary statement, is typically more beneficial for experienced professionals, summarizing skills, experiences, and accomplishments relevant to the job.

However, due to space constraints, some prefer to exclude these sections, especially in a resume, and use the space to expand their work experience or skills.

There’s more room for an objective or profile on a CV, which is typically longer. Regardless, the most crucial information should always be tailored to the specific role and prominently placed to quickly catch the hiring manager’s attention.

Should the language and terminology used differ between a resume and a CV?

While both resumes and CVs aim to present your skills, experiences, and qualifications to potential employers, there can be subtle differences in language and terminology depending on the document and the intended audience.

Often used in business or industry settings, resumes typically use concise, bullet-pointed language highlighting key skills and accomplishments. The language should be action-oriented, employing strong verbs such as “managed,” “led,” “developed,” etc. Industry-specific jargon or acronyms can be beneficial if they’re relevant and widely recognized in your field.

CVs, on the other hand, are common in academic, scientific, and international contexts. These often include more detailed descriptions and a more formal tone.

Academic CVs, for instance, might use field-specific terminology when describing research, publications, or teaching experiences. In an international context, be aware that some terms can differ (e.g., “CV” in the UK is similar to a “resume” in the U.S.).

Should I include my photograph on a resume or a CV?

In the United States, Canada, and the UK, it’s generally not recommended to include a photograph in your resume or CV due to strict employment discrimination laws. These countries have guidelines to avoid biases and discrimination based on appearance, age, race, or gender.

On the other hand, in some countries like Germany, France, or other parts of Europe, including a professional photograph is a common practice. In such cases, the photo should be a professional headshot.

Whether to include a photograph on your resume or CV largely depends on the job, industry, and cultural norms of the country you are applying to.

If in doubt, it’s generally safer to omit a photograph, focusing instead on demonstrating your skills, qualifications, and experiences relevant to the job.

Is it acceptable to use personal pronouns in a resume or a CV?

Personal pronouns (I, me, my, we, us, our) are traditionally avoided in resumes and CVs. The rationale is maintaining a more formal and concise tone, focusing on actions and achievements rather than personal narratives.

Instead of writing, “I managed a team of five people,” you would simply write, “Managed a team of five people.” This approach helps to eliminate redundancy and keeps the focus on your skills and accomplishments.

However, this does not mean the document should be devoid of all personality. A well-written resume or CV should still reflect your professional persona and include a touch of your unique style.

The key is to balance professionalism and personality, ensuring that your document is engaging, informative, and easily digestible to the reader.

How should I handle or explain gaps in my employment history on a resume and CV?

Gaps in employment history can concern job seekers, but they are fairly common and can be handled effectively on resumes and CVs.

If the employment gaps are relatively short, they might not need to be addressed directly on the resume or CV. Using a year format for employment dates, rather than month and year, can help minimize the appearance of short gaps.

However, for larger gaps, it’s important to address them in some way to prevent potential employers from making assumptions. If the gap was spent on activities relevant to your career growth, such as further education, independent research, freelancing, or significant volunteer work, include these experiences in your resume or CV like any other job.

For example:

Resume example:

Freelance Graphic Designer | Self-Employed | 2021-Present
Graphic Designer | XYZ Company | 2018-2020

CV example:

Independent Researcher | Self-Directed | 2021-Present
Research Associate | XYZ University | 2018-2020

Suppose personal circumstances led to the gap, and you prefer not to disclose the details on your resume or CV. In that case, you can briefly address the gap in your cover letter or during the interview, focusing on your eagerness to return to work and your continued relevance in the field.

Conclusion: Resume vs CV

The key to crafting an effective resume or CV lies in understanding the position’s specific requirements and the expectations of potential employers or institutions.

Whether you’re summarizing your professional experiences in a resume or detailing your academic journey in a CV, the end goal remains the same—to present yourself in the best light possible and land that coveted position or admission.

Take the time to tailor your document based on the position, location, and industry standards. Understanding these differences and using the right tool for the job can increase your chances of standing out from the crowd and making a strong impression.


  1. Saul Adler, Journal of Foreign Language Education and Technology, “Examination between Curriculum Vitae and Resume.” 

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