A resume is a short document of career highlights customized for each new job application. A CV is a long, in-depth breakdown of all your work, education, achievements, and projects within a specific field.
The difference is demonstrated by the word origins: The French résumé can be translated as “summary” while the Latin curriculum vitae (CV) means “course of life.” Technical differences between a resume and a CV include document length, formatting, focus, and the frequency of updates.
The main difference between a resume and a CV
Resumes are dynamic, concise, and targeted. CVs are static, comprehensive, and cumulative.
A good resume is a living document updated with strategic resume keywords for each unique job description. Your CV, on the other hand, may remain static and only receive updates when a new position or accomplishment needs to be added.
Resume vs. CV
A resume concisely lists work experience, higher education, and professional accomplishments. The best resumes are tailored for every job application, placing an emphasis on the skills and experience most relevant to a particular job description while keeping the document relatively short (1-3 pages).
A CV offers comprehensive professional coverage and broader life experience. CVs typically start around two or three pages and can reach up to 15 pages in some cases (e.g. seasoned academics).
What goes on a resume and CV?
In addition to contact information, a traditional resume might only include work experience and education sections. Some resume templates may also include sections for a summary statement, accomplishments, skills, or volunteer work.
A CV goes into much greater detail, often including the following sections:
- Teaching positions
- Work experience and projects
- Scholarly and professional affiliations
Note that many of these CV sections are most applicable to academic careers.
When to use a resume or CV
Job descriptions will typically specify whether a resume or CV is appropriate for submission. If not, there are a few factors that can help determine which document is best for the job.
The use of resumes and CVs is primarily regional. Resumes are most commonly used in the U.S. and Canada (though there are exceptions, highlighted below). CVs are typically used internationally, particularly across Europe.
Type of Job
Even in the U.S. and Canada, there are certain professions that do require a CV in place of a resume. For example, a CV is usually used in academia by PhD candidates, university teaching applicants, and in some post-graduate application scenarios. The main use of a CV in academia is to include publication information. CVs are also common in clinical medical professions. In those cases, research and education sections are highlighted.
On the flipside, a resume will rarely be required in regions where CVs are preferred. However, if you live in the UK or Europe and are applying for a job in the U.S. or Canada, you will likely need a resume.
Because a resume and a CV serve different purposes, job seekers should consider having drafts of both written and ready to use. A CV can serve as a master resume or career management document.
Both resumes and CVs perform better when including tailored keywords. While CVs have unlimited space to include many keywords, resumes require a bit more finesse to fit the right keywords in a small amount of space. Get customized resume/CV optimization tips for each specific job application with Jobscan. You can even try it out right here on the blog: