What is the difference between a resume and a CV?

What is the difference between a resume and a CV, and which one do I need? While these terms are occasionally used interchangeably, they are not the same. Here are a few of their distinguishing features:

Length: A resume is intended to a be a page in length, two pages maximum. A CV, which is Latin for Curriculum Vitæ, meaning ‘course of life’ is just that — your whole life story. Depending on your career experience, this could span far more than just a page or two, and it will cover every job you’ve had, school you’ve attended, award you’ve received, etc.


Purpose: Both a resume and a CV are intended to be used in a job application packet in order to demonstrate your skills, accomplishments, and history to your employer. However, a resume is geared toward a specific job, and the goal is to spend your page showing all of the experience that is suitable for that specific job. As such, your resume will need to be adjusted based on your experience. For example, if you are applying for a job in the service industry (like a restaurant or hotel), then it is most important to include jobs pertaining to this sector, even though your foray into retail may have taken place during gaps in those employment periods.


A CV is static, and you don’t change it depending on the job that you are applying for. Your CV is comprehensive and will include a complete record of every job that you have ever have, giving a more holistic view of you as an applicant and as a person. In short, a CV is a list of your full history, while a resume is a targeted list of accomplishments.


Format: Both a resume and a CV are chronological, with your most recent experiences appearing at the top. A resume will include your highest level of education, but a CV will include a complete list of your educational achievements. In general, a CV tends to be styled more formally than a resume, and in fact, the European Union even has a CV template that you can use to make yours just right. A resume, on the other hand, is highly flexible in format, allowing you to choose the order in which to list your relevant experience.


Should I be using a resume or a CV?

This largely depends on your location. In America and Canada, employers prefer to use resumes and many HR departments would balk if they were presented with a ten page life story of an applicant. However, in Europe, a CV is the norm, so if you offered a European employer a one page resume, they would think you were inexperienced. If the job listing says CV or resume, then I would try to read the company culture and make a decision based on my findings. Any industry that requires a higher degree of individualism would likely prefer a resume, since it is a more efficient way to make yourself stand out among a sea of applicants.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *