The Difference Between a CV and a Resume: Navigating Your Career Documents

Explore the key differences between a CV and a resume in our detailed blog post. We delve into their purposes, usage in different sectors, structural nuances, and the importance of tailoring each to your specific job application. This comprehensive guide is designed to clarify these often-confused terms, providing valuable insights for job seekers on when and how to use each document effectively in their career journey. Whether you're applying for academic positions or roles in the corporate sector, this post is a must-read to ensure your application stands out.

11/20/20232 min read

a woman is reading a resume at a table
a woman is reading a resume at a table

In the professional world, the terms 'CV' (Curriculum Vitae) and 'Resume' are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinctly different documents. Understanding the differences is crucial for job seekers aiming to present themselves effectively to potential employers.

Defining a CV and a Resume
  1. Curriculum Vitae (CV): A CV is a detailed document that outlines your entire career path. It's comprehensive, covering education, academic and professional achievements, publications, awards, affiliations, and other pertinent details.

  2. Resume: A resume, on the other hand, is a concise summary of your skills, experiences, and education. Typically no longer than one or two pages, it's tailored to the specific job you're applying for, emphasizing relevant experiences and skills.

Purpose and Usage
  • CV: CVs are commonly used in academia, research, and sometimes in the medical and educational sectors, especially in the UK and Europe. They're used when applying for academic, education, scientific, or research positions and for fellowships or grants.

  • Resume: Resumes are the standard in the business world and are used when applying for jobs in the private sector, non-profit organizations, and government. They are the norm in the United States and Canada for most job applications.

Length and Detail
  • CV Length and Detail: A CV is longer and more detailed, often extending over several pages. It includes a comprehensive list of your academic background, teaching experience, degrees, research, awards, publications, presentations, and other achievements.

  • Resume Length and Detail: Resumes are typically one to two pages long. They provide a brief overview of your work history, skills, and education. The content of a resume is highly selective and tailored to the job you’re applying for.

Structure and Customization
  • CV Structure: The structure of a CV is fairly static, with sections for education, work experience, and skills appearing in a predetermined order. It's updated as your career progresses, but the basic format remains consistent.

  • Resume Customization: A resume is more flexible and should be customized for each job application. It highlights the aspects of your experience that are most relevant to the specific position.

Regional Differences
  • CV in the UK and Europe: In the UK and Europe, a CV is similar to the U.S. resume, used for all job applications, with a concise, tailored format.

  • Resume in the U.S. and Canada: In the U.S. and Canada, the resume is the standard document for job applications, with a focus on brevity and relevance to the specific job.

When to Use a CV or Resume
  • Use a CV: For academic positions, grants, fellowships, or when the employer specifically requests one.

  • Use a Resume: For most non-academic job applications, particularly in the business, non-profit, and government sectors.

Key Takeaways for Job Seekers
  1. Know Your Audience: Understand whether the job you are applying for requires a CV or a resume.

  2. Tailor Your Document: Whether creating a CV or a resume, tailor it to highlight the skills and experiences most relevant to the job.

  3. Keep it Updated: Regularly update your CV or resume as your career progresses.

  4. Proofread and Format: Ensure your document is error-free and well-formatted, reflecting a professional image.


The choice between a CV and a resume depends on your career goals, the job you're applying for, and the country where you're job hunting. Understanding these differences allows you to present your professional background in the most effective way, increasing your chances of landing your desired role.