A graphic of 4 CVs

CV vs Resume . . . what is the difference and which one is the best choice for you?

There are many differences between a curriculum vitae (CV) and a resume, which can be important to know when applying for jobs in different parts of the world. On the other hand, the meaning and use of these words, particularly the word curriculum vitae or CV varies depending on the country in which you live. In some cases, curriculum vitae and resume are just two different words to mean the same thing and the country you are applying for work in determines which word you use.

In this blog post, I will cover:

  • In what countries CVs and resumes are used
  • What a CV and resume is
  • Compare and contrast CVs and resumes, highlighting the key similarities and differences between them
  • The pros and cons of each
  • How to write a CV and resume
  • What to include in a CV and resume
  • Examples of CVs and resumes

By the end of this blog, you should have a clear understanding of the purpose of each, how to write a CV and resume and which one is right for you in your particular situation.

What countries are CVs and resumes used in?

When I moved to the UK from the US in 2003, one of the things I worked out in the early days was that a British CV was essentially a resume. This is a source of confusion for many ex-pats. I learned that in the UK, Ireland, Europe, New Zealand, and some other countries in the world, the term CV is basically synonymous with the word résumé. CVs are the most common type of job application document. If you’re seeking employment in these countries and the role requires a curriculum vitae, you should be aware that it is essentially a résumé.

In the United States and Canada, on the other hand, resumes are more common. However, the CVs job applicants send to recruiters in the UK, Ireland, Europe, and New Zeeland are similar in style, structure, and content to the resumes that job seekers send to recruiters in North America. The CV format and resume format are almost identical. In both cases, these documents are shorter, because most employers have less time to review applications than those hiring for an academic position.

In Australia, South Africa, and India, ‘CV’ and ‘resume’ are synonymous terms, and both words are used. In spite of the fact that ‘CV’ and ‘resume’ mean the same thing, CVs are used more frequently for white-collar jobs and resumes are used more frequently for blue-collar and unskilled ones in these countries.

In South Asia, a slightly different document known as a “biodata” may be required. A biodata corresponds to the American resume or European CV in terms of structure but is more focused on personal data. In addition to one’s date of birth, marital status, ethnicity, and race, it includes one’s salary. You can use the biodata to apply for jobs in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

In the USA and Canada, CVs and resumes are quite different and have distinctly different purposes. What distinguishes a ‘resume’ and ‘curriculum vitae (CV) in the USA and Canada is that CVs are longer documents which are used to apply for academic or research positions. In the UK and Europe, curriculum vitae are also commonly used in academic or research settings. In this case, they are usually called an “academic CV.” These documents are similar in style, structure, and content to the CVs people use to apply for an academic position in North America.

Both CVs and resumes are used in different parts of the world. It is always best to consult with the employer beforehand to see which type of document they prefer.  Although the criteria are often stated clearly in the job advertisement.

Handing a CV or Resume to the hiring manager

What is a CV?

A CV or curriculum vitae (which is Latin for “course of life”) is a detailed description of your entire career and academic credentials. In the United States and Canada, a CV is most commonly used for an application for an academic position, such as PhDs, postdoctoral fellowships, research grants, and so on. It provides a comprehensive overview of your qualifications.

A North American CV is longer and more detailed than a resume. As a result, it may be two or three pages long, but it may also span ten or more pages if required. It is a document that outlines your educational history, qualifications, academic achievements, publications, research experience, skills, work history, awards, honors, and other achievements. This is a document that grows over time as you list each qualification you have achieved, each publication you have written, every teaching experience, and every research experience.

The North American CV described above is often called an ‘Academic CV’ in the UK, Europe, and New Zealand. Academic CVs are similar in format, style, and content to the CVs in the USA and Canada.

In the UK, Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand, a CV generally means something different than in the USA and Canada. In these countries, a CV is basically the same as a resume, which is described below. In other words, it is a brief, descriptive document in which a job seeker outlines their skills, work experience, educational history, and qualifications. It is tailored to a specific job role. These CVs (like resumes) are generally sent to employers in the private sector.

Whilst CVs in the UK, Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand are quite similar to resumes in North America, the main difference is :

  • CVs in the UK and Europe are often 2 pages and sometimes more, depending on experience
  • Whereas resumes in the USA and Canada are generally one page and occasionally more based on experience.

Below is an example of a British CV, which is very similar to a North American resume described below:

A British CV (page 1), which is very similar to a North American resume that you can find in the USA or Canada
A British CV (page 2), which is very similar to a North American resume that you can find in the USA or Canada

What is a Resume?

A resume (or résumé, from French for “summary” or “to sum up”) is a brief, descriptive document that a job seeker in North America (and in some cases Australia, South Africa, and India) will send to a hiring manager to apply for a position that a potential employer is advertising. It is shorter than a CV and it provides a brief overview of a candidate’s skills, work history, relevant experience, educational history, and qualifications. A good resume focuses on a specific job and is one to two pages long, depending on years of experience. 

Unlike a CV or ‘Academic CV’, which can be highly detailed, a resume focuses on only the most relevant information and is tailored to the job description of the role you are applying for. For this reason, resumes are often easier to read than CVs. They are also more commonly used in the business world, as employers typically have less time to review resumes, than those in academic or research settings who may request a CV.

CV vs Resume – Similarities Between a CV and a Resume

CVs and resumes: 

  • Are tailored to the position you are applying for 
  • Should demonstrate your proficiency 
  • Are used to land an interview 
  • Are not usually composed of personal preferences

CV vs Resume – Differences Between a CV and a Resume.

There are several key differences between a CV and a resume. The below infographic summarizes some of the differences:

CV vs Resume infographic which outlines the differences between a CV and Resume

For those who are visually impaired, cannot read the above infographic or would like a fuller explanation of the infographic above, I provide a more detailed description of the key differences between a CV and a Resume here:

  • Perhaps the most obvious difference is length – a CV is usually much longer than a resume, often two to three pages, but can be up to 10 pages or more.
  • The extra space on CVs allows you to include more information about your education, qualifications, skills, work history, research experience, academic achievements, and professional achievements.
  • CVs tend to be more detailed than resumes, providing a comprehensive overview of your entire career.
  • Resumes are shorter and less detailed than CVs. A resume is usually 1 page, but definitely no longer than 2 pages.
  • The purpose of a CV is to demonstrate that your academic experience and accomplishments make you the best candidate for a particular academic position.
  • The purpose of a resume is to demonstrate that your experience and skills make you the best candidate for a specific role which you are applying for.
  • Resumes focus more on your work experience and skills, and they typically do not include a section for research or publications.
  • CVs are most commonly used in academic, research, scientific, or medical fields, so CVs are used when applying for grants, fellowships, and academic and research-oriented positions.
  • Resumes are used when applying for industry, business, public sector, and nonprofit job roles, so the target audience is hiring managers and recruiters.

However, the type of job you are applying for will ultimately dictate which document you use. If you have any questions about which to use, it is always best to consult with the employer beforehand.

CV vs Resume – Pros and Cons of Each

Now that we know the similarities and differences between a CV and a resume, let’s take a look at their pros and cons.

CV pros:

  • More space to showcase your qualifications and achievements
  • Can be used in academic, research, scientific, or medical fields.
  • Provides a comprehensive overview of your skills and experience

CV cons:

  • Longer and more detailed than a resume, which can make it difficult to read
  • Not as commonly used in the business world

Resume pros:

  • Shorter and easier to read than a CV
  • More commonly used in the business world
  • Focuses on only the most relevant information

Resume cons:

  • Does not provide as much space to showcase your qualifications and achievements
  • Limited to two pages or less and often just one page
  • Cannot be used in academic or research settings

So, which one should you use?

The answer depends on the job you are applying for and often what country you live in. If you are applying for a job in academia or research, then a CV is the way to go. However, if you are applying for a job in the business world, then a resume.

CV on a Macbook Pro

How to write a CV?

Some tips on how to write a traditional CV include:

  • Start with your name and contact information, including your phone number, and email address. We no longer advise you include your address on your CV as CVs are now submitted digitally to recruiters online and via email.
  • Include a personal profile or summary of qualifications. This should be a brief overview of your skills, qualifications, and experience.
  • List your education and training in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent qualifications. Include the name and location of the institution, as well as the dates you attended.
  • List your work experience and other professional experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job.
  • When listing your work experience include the name and location of the employer, as well as your job title and dates of employment.
  • List all relevant skills, such as hard skills and soft skills.
  • List any relevant awards or honors, such as scholarships or fellowships.
  • List any relevant publications, such as books, articles, or conference papers.
  • Finally, list any other relevant information, such as professional memberships or volunteer work.

Keep in mind that there is no one right way to write a CV. The most important thing is to include a detailed description of your entire career and academic credentials, so you have the best chance of securing the role you are applying for. If you need help with cv writing or want someone to do it for you, discover the best cv writing service.

What to Include in a CV: 

(Known as an “Academic CV” in the UK, Europe, and New Zealand)

On a CV or Academic CV you should include:

  • Full Name
  • Contact Information
  • Personal Profile 
  • Research Objective / Interests
  • Education
  • Professional Academic Appointments
  • Publications (academic papers, books, book chapters, peer-reviewed publications, and other publications)
  • Work Experience
  • Teaching or lecturing experience
  • Research Experience / Lab Experience / Graduate Fieldwork
  • Awards and Honors
  • Grants and Fellowships
  • Conferences and courses
  • Skills 
  • Languages
  • Certificates
  • Grants and fellowships
  • Non-Academic Activities
  • Memberships
  • References 

CV Example

Below is an example of a CV or Academic CV:

Source: UW – Madison

How to Write a Resume

Some tips on how to write a traditional resume include:

  • Start with your name and contact information, including your phone number, and email address. We no longer advise you include your address on your resume as resumes are now submitted digitally to recruiters online and via email.
  • Include a personal profile, highlighting your unique selling points (skills, qualities, qualifications, and experience), along with the type of role you are seeking.
  • List your relevant work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job.
  • When listing your work experience include the name and location of the employer, as well as your job title and dates of employment.
  • List your education and training in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent qualifications.
  • When listing your education history, include the name and location of the institution, as well as the dates you attended.
  • List any relevant skills. You can tailor your resume to the job description by including each specific skill that is relevant to the job role.
  • List any relevant awards or honors, such as scholarships or fellowships.
  • Finally, list any other relevant information, such as professional memberships or volunteer work.

Keep in mind that there is no one right way to write a resume. The most important thing is to include information that is relevant to the specific job you are applying for.

What to Include on a Resume

(known as a CV in the UK, Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand)

On a resume you should include:

  • Full name
  • Your job title, or the name of the position you’re applying for
  • Contact information
  • Personal Profile / Objective
  • Relevant Skills
  • Languages and proficiency
  • Work Experience
  • Education History
  • Courses / Additional Training
  • Awards
  • Licenses and Certifications
  • Hobbies and interests 
  • References

Resume Example

Below is an Example of a Resume:

Example Resume - An example of a Cyber Security Analyst Resume in the North American style like you would see in the USA or Canada

CV vs Resume Conclusion

CVs and resumes are two different types of job application documents, although sometimes they mean the same thing. In the USA and Canada, resumes are used when applying for industry, business, public sector, and nonprofit job roles, so the target audience is hiring managers and recruiters. The purpose of a resume is to demonstrate that your experience and skills make you the best candidate for a specific role which you are applying for. Resumes focus more on your work experience and skills.

Whereas CVs are most commonly used in the US and Canada in academic, research, scientific, or medical fields. CVs are used when applying for grants, fellowships, academic and research-oriented positions. The purpose of a CV is to demonstrate that your academic experience and accomplishments make you the best candidate for a particular academic position.

On the other hand, in the UK, Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand, a CV is basically the same thing as a resume. The word “CV” is used in place of the word “resume.” What people in North America call a CV, is generally called an “academic CV” in the UK, Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand.

In Australia, South Africa, and India, the words “CV” and “resume” are both used to describe a brief, descriptive document that a job seeker will send to a recruiter or hiring manager to apply for an advertised or speculative position.

Following reading this blog, you should have a better understanding of:

  • What countries are CVs and resumes used
  • What a CV and resume is
  • The key similarities and differences between CVs and resumes
  • The pros and cons of each
  • How to write a CV and Resume
  • What to include in a CV and Resume

High-quality CVs and resumes can help you secure the job of your dreams. However, if you need help or want to stand out from the crowd, a CV and Resume writing service will not just make your CV look good, but will also make sure it is completely error-free and provide a potential employer with an accurate reflection of your skills, experiences, and values.

Thanks for reading! I hope this article was helpful! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!

If you have an upcoming interview, read my interview tips and the best questions to ask at an interview.

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