5 Surprising Differences between Resumes and CVs

5 Surprising Differences between Resumes and CVs

5 Surprising Differences between Resumes and CVs

Many people think that a resume and CV (curriculum vitae) are the same and there is no or little difference. Both are used when applying for a job position, but a resume and a CV should not be mixed up and used interchangeably.

Is there actually a difference between resumes and CVs?

A resume (may also be spelt as “resumé” or “résumé”) is a comprehensive summary of your work history, education, skills, accomplishments etc. The document is usually 1-2 pages and usually, includes bulleted lists to keep the information brief.

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Latin for “course of life.” It is clear from the translation that the document is more detailed and provide a thorough overview of your past and accomplishments.

There are 5 differences between resumes and CVs:

1. Number of pages

In general, a CV can be much longer than a resume. A resume is usually no longer than 2 pages (in preference only 1-page document). The resume shows your past professional experience and skills learned in the positions. The number of pages in your CV depends on your academic experience and career length. The CV would also include a complete list of publications, presentations, and posters. If you achieved a lot in academia, you want to show that, so your CV can become much longer and there is no page limit.

2. Type of position applied for

A resume is usually used in situations when you apply for positions in most industries, business, non-profit organizations, and public sector. A CV is more used for positions in academia, fellowships, faculty openings, assistantships, internships postdoctoral positions, teaching/research positions and when applying for grants or scholarship.

3. Focus and Content

A resume highlights your professional experiences, skills and qualifications you learnt during different jobs and positions you held during your career. The document would list past jobs in a chronological order or reverse chronological. A CV emphasizes more in-depth your full history of academic credentials and accomplishments. The list can include as mentioned before teaching positions, research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honours, fellowships, professional memberships and other affiliations.

4. Format Layout

Usually, a CV starts with your education and detailed information about your degree, courses, thesis etc. There is no clear layout for a CV. You can have a look at CVs used by people who applied to similar positions. In contrast, a resume lists your education as the last one or much lower with less emphasis. Only recent graduates should put the education first as they don’t have enough professional experience.

5. The Country

In the US and Canada, a resume is preferred when applying for jobs. A CV would be used when applying for an academic or research position or applying for jobs abroad. In New Zealand, Ireland and the UK a CV would be used in all applications. European countries generally use a CV format. You can also create a European Union CV: Europass website.

The terms resume and CV are interchangeably used in the remaining countries. It usually depends on whether the position is in a private sector or public sector. Additionally, the company might request specific information or application documents.

TIP: Always check the job posting and application requirements. Make sure you comply and don’t get rejected immediately.


The main differences between a resume and CV are the number of pages, type of positions applied for, content, format layout and the country. However, some employers are specific about what kind of documents is required and what should be provided when submitting a job application.

Remember if you are not sure which kind of document you need to provide, ask for clarification.

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