What’s the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?

— May 11, 2017


When you apply for a job, it’s important to provide some piece of marketing collateral—but should it be a resume, or a CV? Both of these terms get thrown around a lot, and with a lot of people they’re used somewhat interchangeably. It’s important for jobseekers to understand that these two types of document are not the same thing, and that some career opportunities call for one over the other.


What is a CV?


Let’s define the two terms, then, starting with the CV. More formally called a curriculum vitae, the CV is most often used in academic and medical fields. You can think of this as a detailed professional timeline, showing the chronological trajectory of your employment history but also listing major awards you’ve won, academic appointments, publications, major research projects, funding and grants, speaking opportunities, etc.


CVs usually don’t provide a lot of detail for each job listed; it’s usually just a straight chronology. There are some other key differences, too. While we recommend most jobseekers keep their resumes to one or two pages, a CV can be limitless. Also, while resumes should be tailored for each particular job opportunity, a CV stays pretty consistent; it should be updated with new information as your career progresses, but that’s about it.


What is a Resume?


Most jobseekers are more familiar with resumes, which is more of a brief career overview—just a page or two, and not necessarily including every job, every award, or every honor you’ve ever had. It’s more like a summary of the potential you provide to employers; with that said, it can also provide more detail about specific responsibilities or achievements within given positions.


The other big difference? You need to be customizing your resume to each job you apply for. It is by no means a static thing. Using the Executive Summary and Core Competencies sections, in particular, your resume should speak to why you’re a great fit for the job you’re currently applying for.


Choosing Between a CV and a Resume


So which one should you have on hand? Well, ideally both, as it never hurts to be able to provide an employer with a resume or with a CV, depending on the position. Some employers might ask for a quick career summary, in which case a CV makes sense; others will want something that does a better job condensing your career into a narrative, and that’s when a resume will be necessary.

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Author: Amanda Clark


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