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CV vs. Resume: Definitions, Difference & When to Use Which (Samples)

Michael Tomaszewski
Resume Expert at Zety
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What is a CV? Is it any different from a resume?

 

Why do some candidates apply with a CV and others use a resume? Is any of the two actually better than the other?

 

In 5 minutes you’ll learn everything you need to know about the CV vs. resume difference.

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • CV (Curriculum Vitae) definition and sample, and a resume definition and sample.
  • The difference between a CV and a resume.
  • When to use a CV and when to use a resume when applying in the US or Canada.
  • What CV stands for outside of North America and what document to use when applying internationally.

 

For starters, here’s a quick rundown of what a CV is and what it stands for.

 

CV

 

What does CV mean?

 

A CV (full form Curriculum Vitae which is Latin for “course of life”) is an in-depth document which describes the whole course of your career in full detail. It’s usually two- or three-page long but can just as well be laid out over 10+ pages, if necessary. A Curriculum Vitae contains details about your education, professional career, publications, awards, honors, and other achievements. In the USA and Canada, a CV is used only for academic applications: academic jobs, grants, research fellowships, etc.

 

To see what it looks like check out the CV example below.

 

Curriculum Vitae Sample

 

Want to save time and create your CV in minutes? Use our CV maker. Just fill in the blanks and have a perfectly formatted CV ready for download. See 20+ CV templates and create your CV here.

 

sample cv templates

Sample CV made with our builder—See more templates and create your CV here.

  

For more examples and guidelines on how to write an American CV, see: How to Write a US CV for Academic Applications (Examples)

 

As you can see, a CV is very detailed and comprehensive: many sections, no bullet points, just plain text (after all, CV meaning is acourse of life, no wonder it’s that long!)

 

Below you’ll see a full list of sections to put on a CV.

 

What to Include in a CV:

 

  1. Contact Information
  2. Research Objective, Professional Profile, or Personal Statement
  3. Education
  4. Professional Academic Appointments
  5. Books
  6. Book Chapters
  7. Peer-Reviewed Publications
  8. Other Publications
  9. Awards and Honors
  10. Grants and Fellowships
  11. Conferences
  12. Teaching Experience
  13. Research Experience / Lab Experience / Graduate Fieldwork
  14. Non-Academic Activities
  15. Languages and Skills
  16. Memberships
  17. References

 

Before we show you a full resume/CV comparison, let’s quickly define résumé.

 

What Is a Resume?

 

A resume (or résumé, from French “to sum up”) is a short, concise document used for job applications in the US and Canada. The purpose of a resume is to provide recruiters with a brief overview of the candidate’s work history. A good resume should be targeted at a specific job and one to two pages long.

 

Have a look at the below example of a resume made with our builder. The difference between a resume and a CV is clear, isn’t it?

 

American Resume Sample

 

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you'll get tips and right vs. wrong examples while writing your resume. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

 

sample resume templates

Sample resume made with our builder—See more templates and create your resume here.

 

 

If you want to learn more about how to write a job-winning resume, switch over to: How to Make a Resume for a Job (Samples & a Writing Guide)

 

Or check out a dedicated example of a resume for your job. We guarantee you’ll find it here: 99+ Resume Examples for All Jobs in the World

 

What should be on a resume, then?

 

What to Include on a Resume:

 

  1. Contact Information
  2. Resume Summary or Resume Objective
  3. Work Experience
  4. Education
  5. Skills
  6. Additional Sections (Awards, Courses, Publications, Certificates, Conferences, etc.)

 

Before we move on, a technical thing that confuses many job seekers: How to type a resume?

 

What’s the Proper Resume Spelling?

 

Although originally spelled “résumé” in French, in English both forms—”resume” and “résumé”—are correct.

 

To sum up, then:

 

CV vs. Resume: The Difference Between a CV and a Resume

 

Difference between CV and resume lies in the length, layout, and purpose of these documents. CVs have no length limit; resumes are typically one to two pages long. A CV details the whole course of the candidate’s academic career; a resume summarizes skills and work experience. CVs are used for academic purposes, resumes—to apply for jobs. 

 

All of the above holds true for the US and Canada.

 

But what about international applications?

 

Resume vs. CV: International Differences & When to Use Which

 

In all of Europe (the UK, Ireland, and other European countries), as well as New Zealand, the term CV is used to describe an equivalent of a US resume: a short, targeted document you use to apply for jobs. There’s no such thing as a “resume” there.

 

There are only minor, region-specific differences between a New Zealand or European CV and an American resume. To learn more about writing a job CV, see: How to Write a CV for a Job (UK, Other European Countries, New Zealand)

In Australia and South Africa, “Curriculum Vitae” and “resume” are synonyms that can be used interchangeably. Both words refer to a brief, one- to two-page document.

In South Asia, job seekers might need to use a slightly different document: a biodata. It’s a document which contains more personal, “biographical” data (hence the name): date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, marital status, and salary. It’s commonly used in India and Bangladesh.

 

Here's a full, step-by-step guide on writing a biodata: Biodata Format: Samples and 20+ Expert Tips

 

But—

 

If a South Asian employer asks you for a “resume” or a “CV” specifically, don’t send over a biodata. Go for a document that follows the American resume rules.

 

Key Takeaway

 

Here’s all you need to know about the resume/CV differences and when to use which document:

 

  • If you’re applying for a job in the US or Canada, write a resume: keep it short and customize it to match the job ad.
  • For academic positions in North America, write a Curriculum Vitae: include every detail related to your academic or professional career.
  • When applying for jobs in Europe or New Zealand, you’ll need to submit a document called a “CV”, but a European CV is in fact almost identical to an American resume.
  • In Australia and South Africa, “CV” and “resume” are synonyms: both refer to a short document; an equivalent of the US resume.
  • In South Asian countries, “CV” and “resume” mean the same thing as in America, but for job-seeking, you’ll often need to submit a biodata.

 

I hope this article helped clear up the differences between CVs and resumes. If you're still not sure about some points, leave a comment. I'll answer all your CV vs. resume questions!

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Author
Michael Tomaszewski
Michael is a career expert and the coordinator of Zety's newsletter. He reaches out to recruitment and hiring gurus to help you learn the most effective strategies for managing your career.