You’ve been applying for jobs for months and have noticed some employers ask for a CV, or curriculum vitae, and some ask for a resume. Sometimes they seem to be referring to the same thing. Other times it seems like they are two completely different documents. You definitely want to make sure you submit the right thing so you can finally land a job, but you’re not so sure what a CV even is! And what is the difference between a resume and a CV? When is the proper time to use one?

CV vs Resume

The difference between a cv and resume is fairly simple. A resume is a personal, competency-based document. The purpose of the resume is a document to demonstrate your skills, achievements, and highlight relevant work experience. A CV, or curriculum vitae, is a credentials-based document. The purpose of a CV is to detail your education and career journey and achievements. Still confused? We’ll take a closer look at both.

What is a CV?

The term ‘Curriculum Vitae’ is Latin and translates to ‘the course of your life’ in English. As such, it is a much lengthier document. Basically, it’s a comprehensive explanation of all that you have accomplished in your education and career. A CV is most commonly required for jobs in scientific research, grants, medical fields, postdoctoral positions, fellowships, and in academia.

What to Include in Your CV

A CV should include all of your accomplishments chronologically. Because the document is comprehensive, the more experience you have, the longer the document. There isn’t any page requirement or limit for a CV unless it’s specified by the employer. A CV should start with basic personal information, and the body of it should contain in-depth details on education and career including: certificates, awards, grants, scholarships, publications, research, presentations, dissertations, professional references, coursework, and achievements. It should also include a personal profile detailing any relevant skills and personal attributes.

Indeed has a great, simple CV Outline:

What is a Resume?

The term resume comes from the French word ‘résumé’ which means summary in English. Resumes are typically short, rarely exceeding one page. It is best practice to keep a resume to one page. Most common job postings are looking for this kind of resume for their application, not a CV. A successful resume is a document focused on concisely displaying the skills and qualifications you have gained from your various experiences.

What to Include in Your Resume

A resume should start with basic personal information, then include education history, relevant coursework, skills, awards, and highlight work experiences and accomplishments. Resumes can also include a section on volunteer work, publications, or some personal facts like hobbies or interests. Because of the short nature of a resume, information is often presented in short bullets, focused on illustrating competencies and the value you have contributed in the workplace. Resumes should be different depending on the job that you are applying for, be sure to tailor your skills, experiences, and other sections to the job that you are applying for. For more information on how to write a good resume, check out our article ‘Top 10 job skills on a resume.

Indeed also has a good starting template of a standard resume:

US vs International

It’s important to note that the difference between a resume and CV changes if you are applying to any jobs outside of the United States. In most of the rest of the world, a CV is used in reference to all application documents, including what we call a resume in the US. Each country has its own slight variations on these documents, so be sure to research the specifics of the country and don’t be afraid to reach out to the hiring manager for any needed clarification.


The difference between a CV vs a resume can be boiled down to these three key points: length, content and information included, and purpose. A CV is long and detailed, a resume is short and concise. A CV is a comprehensive document detailing all your accomplishments and credentials from education and career, whereas a resume is a short list of skills, education, accomplishments, and experiences most relevant to the position you are applying for. The purpose of a CV is to present that career journey for academic, research-oriented applications, and a resume is a tailored summary used for most industry job positions. Now that you’ve learned the difference between a resume and CV, you can start to craft your own for your dream jobs!

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