Curriculum Vitae (CV) vs. a Resume
Learn how a CV differs from a Resume
What Is the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?
The primary differences between a resume and a curriculum vitae (CV) are length, what is included, and what each is used for. While both are used in job applications, a resume and a CV are not always interchangeable.
What Is a Curriculum Vitae?
Like a resume, a curriculum vitae (CV) provides a summary of one’s experience and skills. Typically, CVs are longer than resumes – at least two or three pages.
CVs include information on one’s academic background, including teaching experience, degrees, research, awards, publications, presentations, and other achievements. CVs are thus much longer than resumes, and include more information, particularly related to academic background.
A curriculum vitae summary is a one-to-two-page, condensed version of a full curriculum vitae. A CV summary is a way to quickly and concisely convey one’s skills and qualifications. Sometimes large organizations will ask for a one-page CV summary when they expect a large pool of applicants.
What Is a Resume?
A resume provides a summary of your education, work history, credentials, and other accomplishments and skills. There are also optional sections, including a resume objective and career summary statement. Resumes are the most common document requested of applicants in job applications.
A resume should be as concise as possible.
Typically, a resume is one page long, although sometimes it can be as long as two pages. Often resumes include bulleted lists to keep information concise.
Resumes come in a few types, including chronological, functional, and combination formats. Select a format that best fits the type of job you are applying for.
When to Use a CV
CVs are used almost exclusively in countries outside of the United States. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, employers may expect to receive a curriculum vitae.
Within the United States, people in academia and medicine tend to use CVs rather than resumes.
CVs are thus used primarily when applying for international, academic, education, scientific, medical or research positions or when applying for fellowships or grants.
What to Include in Your Curriculum Vitae
Like a resume, your curriculum vitae should include your name, contact information, education, skills and experience.
In addition to the basics, a CV includes research and teaching experience, publications, grants and fellowships, professional associations and licenses, awards and other information relevant to the position you are applying for.
Start by making a list of all your background information, and then organize it into categories.
CV and Resume Writing Tips
Whether you are writing a CV or a resume, there are a few helpful rules you should follow.
Match your resume or CV to the position. This is most important when writing a resume, but it applies to a CV too. Make sure that you highlight your education, work experience, and skills as they relate to the particular industry or job.
In a CV, for example, if you are applying for a job in education, you might want to put your teaching experience at the top of your CV. In a resume, you might include only the work experience that relates directly to the job you’re applying for.
You can also include keywords from the job description in your resume or CV. This will show the employer that you are an ideal fit for the position. Here's how to match your qualifications to a job.
Use a template. You may want to use a template to structure your resume or CV. This will give your application a clear organization, which will help the employer quickly see your qualifications and experience.
Edit, edit, edit. No matter whether you use a CV or resume, you need to thoroughly edit your document. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
Also make sure your format is uniform – for example, if you use bullet points in one job description, use bullet points in all your job descriptions.
How to Write a Successful Resume
- Choose the right format for your needs. Your industry, experience, and desired role will inform your choice of resume format – e.g. chronological, functional, or combination. See sample resumes organized by occupation and industry, here.
- Write for both robots and humans. Your resume needs to get past the Applicant Tracking System and grab the attention of the human being on the other end. These resume writing tips will help you craft a document that appeals to both software and HR.
How to Write a Successful CV
- Know what to include and how to format the information. These sample CVs form a helpful guide; this piece offers tips for writing your very first CV.
- Choose an appropriate format. Make sure you choose a curriculum vitae format that is appropriate for the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a fellowship, for example, you won't need to include the personal information that may be included in an international CV.
In the UK the words ‘CV’ and ‘resume’ are interchangeable and both have the same meaning. The CV is a shortened form of the term ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘path of life’, while ‘resume’ is a French word meaning a summary. It is in the USA that a real distinction is made between the two terms. If you are applying for jobs in the US or are based in the States and coming to Europe it becomes more important to understand the differences in meaning and tailor your career document accordingly.
A UK career history document is almost always referred to as a curriculum vitae (CV). In the UK a CV/resume is an overview of the person’s experience and is generally 2 – 4 pages in length. Senior candidates will be at the upper end of this scale and more junior applicants will be closer to 2 pages or sometimes less. The CV will often form the basis of the interview discussion and it should be reasonably comprehensive.
US organizations may ask for either CV or resume but will have very different documents in mind. A resume is a short career overview, highlighting credentials and achievements and comprising 1 – 2 pages. The objective is often just to secure an interview and is by far the most common format used. This is comparable with a European CV.
An American CV however, is a more complete description of a person’s career, including educational details, publications from their field, presentations, awards, recognitions, affiliations etc. When candidates use the CV format it is mainly for positions within academia, science or research. For all other roles the resume is used, hence why it is the most frequent type of career document.
American resumes are formatted using the narrower, legal type page (8.5″ x 11″), while UK CVs will entail reformatting to the A4 size (12′ x 8.625′). It is worth setting the margins at the outset to ensure the final document looks suitably professional.
British CVs include contact details such as telephone numbers, email and home addresses. Candidates often also include a short description of hobbies or personal interests.
Candidates writing a resume for an American audience will have to contend with many differences – one of more obvious ones being the date format used. When listing dates on a UK CV, the correct format is day/month/year (i.e. 30/04/95). On an American version the correct format is month/day/year (i.e. 11/30/98). For simplicity’s sake, when listing dates of employment it may be easier to only list the month and year (i.e. 05/11).
Differences in Spelling
Variations between US and UK English have evolved and therefore it is important to tailor your spelling to your audience. For example, American spelling often uses the letter ‘z’ rather than ‘s’ (organization / organisation) and frequently drops the ‘u’ (labor, color). With this in mind it may be sensible to have your document checked by a native speaker.