Have you ever asked yourself, “what is a CV exactly?” Does the difference between a CV and resume not seem clear to you?
You’re not alone. However, the whole CV vs resume concept isn’t as hard to grasp as you might think.
Learn when to write a CV, and when a resume is the best choice for your job hunt.
A closer look at CVs
A CV is a document that provides an overview of your academic career and professional history, including your publications, conferences, teaching experience, educational history, dissertations, and more.
Short for curriculum vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin, an academic CV is used to apply for grad school, PhD programs, or positions in academia. Additionally, there’s no limit to how long a CV can be, and in some cases they can stretch more than 10 pages in length.
If you’ve looked online for how to write a resume for a specific European country, like “French resume“, for example, you may find the term “French CV” popping up instead. When a European says “CV”, they’re generally referring to what Americans call a “resume”. So if you’re applying for jobs in Europe, you can use your US resume and simply rename your file “[Name] CV”.
What to include on a CV
Here’s what to include on your CV if you’re putting together an application for an academic position:
- Contact information
- Personal statement
- Employment history
- Honors and awards
- Grants and fellowships
- Teaching experience
- Research projects
This academic CV was written by G. Richard Scott, a Professor of Physical Anthropology at the University of Nevada (the contact details are made up to protect his privacy).
Dr. Scott has been part of the American university system for over 40 years, so his CV dates back to the 1970’s. It’s 24-pages long.
A closer look at resumes
A resume is a one- or two-page summary of your work experience, key skills, and job-related qualifications.
Resumes are used to apply for most non-university jobs. The majority of job seekers everywhere would benefit from learning how to make a resume, they’d just need to call it a CV depending on where they lived.
Resumes emphasize work experience and job skills, and place less weight on a candidate’s education. That is, unless it’s the education section of a recent graduate resume where the candidate lacks work experience. And from a visual perspective, most resume designs are casual and creative when compared to your average academic CV.
What to include on a resume
Here’s a list of sections to include when you’re writing a resume:
- Contact information
- Resume summary
- Work experience
- Other relevant resume sections (certifications, awards, projects, volunteer work, language skills, etc)
This waiter/waitress resume sample shows how a standard resume should look:
The difference between a resume and CV in the US
The main differences between a CV and a resume are tied to their contents and overall length.
A resume is a concise one- to two-page document that outlines your professional experience and skills.
On the other hand, a CV is a multipage document that provides a full history of your academic credentials. Typically, the purpose of a CV is to get you a position in academia or research.
Here’s a summarized look at how CVs and resumes are different:
- Scope: A CV is an in-depth look at your entire career, back to your first job out of school. A resume is a short highlight reel of your most relevant work achievements and skills.
- Purpose: CVs are used to apply for academic positions or graduate school programs. Resumes are used to apply for all other jobs.
- Length: A CV grows over your lifetime as you add new information, and can run over 10 pages in length. Meanwhile, the average resume length is one page, and only includes your last 10-15 years of work experience.
CV vs Resume (international differences)
Here’s a breakdown of what CV and resume mean internationally:
Like we mentioned earlier, if you’re applying for work outside the United States, a resume and a CV are the same thing.
In most European countries (including the UK), a CV is a one- or two-page document you use to apply for jobs. The term “resume” isn’t common, but is still understood by most hiring managers across Europe.
CVs for academic positions are also called CVs in Europe. However, you still might hear them called academic CVs because it makes the meaning clearer.
Canadian businesses use the word “resume” in the same way as Americans, likely because of Canada’s status as the US’s neighbor. Similarly, a CV is used to apply for academic posts.
In Australia and New Zealand, resumes and CVs are both used to apply for jobs. Resumes tend to be one page, summarizing the main highlights of your career, while CVs are around two to three pages and outline all of your professional experience.