CV vs. Resume: What is a CV? (+ Examples & Tips)

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: January 11, 2024
Cv Vs Resume

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What is a curriculum vitae (CV)? Is a CV the same as a resume? Is a resume the same as a CV? Are they different? If so, how? These are some of the most common questions around CV vs resume in the United Kingdom and the United States.

In this article, we will:

  • Answer “What is a CV vs resume?”
  • Consider what to include in a curriculum vitae (CV) and resume.
  • Explain the difference between a resume and a CV.
  • Provide an example of a CV and a resume sample for comparison.

What is the difference between a CV and a resume?

In the U.S., the most notable difference between a resume and a CV is their formats. A CV provides a thorough picture of a job applicant’s capabilities and can be any length necessary to convey a job seeker’s qualifications. And while a resume might use one of three formats, a CV does not have a standard format.

On the other hand, a resume in the U.S. is a one- or two-page summary of critical facts about a job seeker’s qualifications. A crucial difference between a resume and a CV is that a resume focuses on work experiences, relevant skills, and educational background. In contrast, a CV often contains several other sections necessary for the job.

 Is a CV the same as a resume?

No. Job seekers often confuse CVs and resumes because they are vital documents for the perfect job. They summarize a candidate’s work qualifications, including job history, skills and education. But they have specific differences.

International CV and resume difference

In the U.K. and some countries in Europe and Asia, “CV” is synonymous with “resume,” it is the standard document for all job applications.

 

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae or CV, meaning “course of life,” is a comprehensive document that displays the full range of a job seeker’s professional life. It is a “living document” that job seekers add to throughout their careers. It includes information such as research, educational or professional trips, speaking engagements, experiments, publications, memberships, etc.

Who uses a CV vs a resume?

Employers prefer a CV when the job mandates expertise in a particular field and extensive knowledge. Medical, legal, academic and science professionals often use a CV vs a resume.

What should you put in a CV?

There are essential sections every CV must have and others that job seekers may add, depending on their professional history and target job.

Our How to Make a CV page is a great resource for learning more about how to write each of the following sections.

First, a look at what you must add to a CV:

  • Your contact information.
  • A professional profile.
  • Comprehensive job history.
  • Education.
  • Professional skills.

After you add the basics, you might add any of the following to a CV vs resume:

  • Research
  • Teaching or lecturing experience
  • Publications
  • Conferences and speaking engagements
  • Languages
  • Awards and honors
  • Certificates
  • Licenses
  • Grants, fellowships and scholarships
  • Professional associations and memberships
  • Volunteer work
  • Relevant hobbies and interests
  • Professional references.

PRO TIP

Did you know? Most companies use applicant tracking software to eliminate 75% of candidates before a hiring manager can read their cover letter, resume or CV.

What does a CV look like?

There is no particular format for a CV vs a resume. Your CV format largely depends on your job, years of experience, and focus. For example, a medical student’s CV might emphasize clinical training and skills, while a CV for an attorney might highlight work experience and written work. CV examples, like the one below, can show you how to arrange your qualifications based on your needs.

Customizable CV templates, like the one below, are great tools for laying out your CV. Use one with our CV Maker to create a professional CV in no time!

PRO TIP

Although it’s common for CVs to be longer than three pages, conciseness is essential. Use bullet points in every section of your CV to keep it neatly organized.

When to use a CV

Use a CV when the job description requires a CV over a resume. If you’re applying for a job in a different country, you’ll likely send a CV. Depending on the industry, your CV may only be 2-pages long.

Beyond job-seeking endeavors in traditionally specialized industries, CVs are an essential piece of application to fellowships, research, postdoctoral degrees and other academic programs.

Whether to advance your job or further your academic career, always verify applicant requirements with the employer or institution.

What is a resume?

A resume is a formal document that outlines a job applicant’s qualifications for a job. It is a condensed history of your job-relevant qualifications accepted by most employers in the U.S. for a wide range of industries.

Who should use a resume vs a CV?

In the U.S., most job seekers use a resume and cover letter to demonstrate their qualifications for a job. However, U.S. job applicants in the academic, medical, legal and science fields sometimes choose to use a CV vs resume to provide in-depth information about lectures they’ve presented, publications they have written, and professional affiliations and associations.

PRO TIP

Did you know? Using numbers to show your achievements on a resume and CV increases your chance of getting an interview by 40%.

What does a resume contain?

All resumes should contain a header with the job applicant’s contact information, a resume skills section with a mix of hard and soft skills, a work history section that highlights three to five accomplishments for every job you list and an education section. Some job applicants choose to add optional sections for awards and volunteer work.

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What does a resume look like?

The most popular resume format in 2023 is the reverse chronological resume format because it works for job seekers with at least one year of experience and is easy to scan. But if you are applying for your first job or have employment gaps, consider the functional resume format, emphasizing skills over work history. If you have over ten years of experience or are changing careers, try the hybrid or combination resume format.

A resume should always use a professional font, evenly set margins (about 1 inch on all sides), consistent line spacing, balanced white space, and be one or two pages long.

Check out our library of 800+ resume examples for great ideas about a professional resume. Then, choose a  resume template and fill it out in our Resume Builder to ensure it is formatted correctly and designed professionally.

 

 

Create a CV or a resume fast

Need a CV or resume now? Save time with a template! Download a professionally designed CV template or resume template free, or use one with our Resume Builder to craft a custom, professional CV or resume in minutes. Our builder provides expert content based on your experience and skills so that you can create a unique document for every job with just a few clicks.

CV vs resume difference: Important takeaways

Now you know the difference between a CV and a resume! But to ensure you don’t forget, take these key points with you:

  1. The most significant difference between a CV and a resume is the format. Three standard resume formats exist, but you should organize your CV according to the job.
  2. In the U.S., fields like academia, medicine and law typically use CVs. Resumes are appropriate for any job or industry.
  3. In most European and some Asian countries, a CV is the standard document used in job applications.
  4. Resumes can contain up to four optional sections if there is room on one or two pages, but a CV will often contain many sections, depending on the profession and the job’s requirements.

CV vs resume FAQ

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