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?”
- Look what to include in a curriculum vitae (CV) and resume.
- Explain the difference in a resume and 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 be shaped in 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 critical resume and CV difference is that a resume focuses on work experiences, relevant skills and one’s educational background, while 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 both vital documents in a job seeker’s quest for the perfect job. They both 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,” and they are the standard document for all job applications in those countries.
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.
Who uses a CV vs resume?
Employers prefer a CV when the job mandates expertise in a particular field and extensive knowledge of the subject. Professionals in the medical, legal, academic and science fields often use a CV vs resume.
What should you put in a CV?
There are essential sections every CV must have and there are others that job applicants can and should 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.
- Professional skills.
After you add the basics, you might add any of the following to a CV vs resume:
- Teaching or lecturing experience
- Conferences and speaking engagements
- Awards and honors
- Grants, fellowships and scholarships
- Professional associations and memberships
- Volunteer work
- Relevant hobbies and interests
- Professional references.
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 resume. A CV format largely depends on your job, years of experience and focus. For example, a medical student’s CV might focus on 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.
Although it’s common for CVs to be longer than three pages, conciseness is important. Every section of your CV should be neatly organized with bullet points.
What is a resume?
A resume is a formal document that outlines a job applicant’s qualifications for a job. It is meant to be a condensed history of your job-relevant qualifications and is accepted by most employers in the U.S. for a wide range of industries.
Who should use a resume vs CV?
In the U.S., most job seekers use a resume along with a 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 associations they are affiliated with.
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, which emphasizes skills over work history. And if you have more than 10 years of experience or changing careers, then 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 of what a professional resume looks like. Then choose a resume template and fill it out in our Resume Builder to ensure your resume is formatted properly and designed professionally.
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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:
- The most significant difference between a CV and a resume is format. There are three standard resume formats, but a CV can be organized according to the job.
- In the U.S., a CV is usually reserved for jobs in academia, medicine and law, but a resume can be used for any job or industry.
- In most European and some Asian countries, a CV is the standard document used in job applications.
- 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
How can I tell if I need a CV vs resume?
The easiest way to tell if you need a resume vs CV is to check the job description. Employers will sometimes highlight one or the other if it’s important for the position.
Another way to tell if you need a CV or resume is if you are in a profession such as academia, medicine, law or science and the job requires you to include publications, speaking engagements or lectures.
Is a CV the same as a resume?
In the U.S., a CV is different from a resume. Distinctions include:
- A resume vs CV is a brief, one-page document with a few essential sections while a CV is a lengthy document that includes everything from a job applicant’s career.
- A CV’s format depends on the job and the job seeker’s background, while a resume is limited to a few standard formats.
- A resume can be used for any job but a CV is often reserved for positions in academia, science, law and medicine.
In parts of Europe and Asia, however, a CV is the same as a resume.
Does section order matter for a CV?
Section order for a CV largely depends on your profession and job requirements; however, you must place your contact information and professional profile at the top.
How to write a CV with no experience?
Follow these tips for writing the perfect CV with no work experience:
- Write a compelling profile that conveys confidence and enthusiasm.
- Follow your profile with your educational credentials, highlighting any academic awards, grants, fellowships and honors you have received.
- Create an impressive skills section that shows a range of traits and abilities.
- Wow them with extracurricular and professional activities, publications, thesis, and community service or volunteer activities that show you have the know-how to perform the work.
Which file format should I use for my resume or CV?
The first rule of thumb for file formats is to use the type the potential employer requests in the job ad. If a file format is not specified, then use Adobe PDF if you are sending your CV or resume through a job application portal and use a Word .doc file if you are sending your documents through email or mail.
What is the difference between a resume and CV formatting?
CV resume difference does not apply to the rules of professional formatting. Follow these tips for perfect formatting every time:
- Set margins at one inch on all sides.
- Use appropriate fonts, such as Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica.
- Stick to a font size between 10-12 on the body and 14-16 on section headings.
- Adjust your font type and size according to your document. If reducing the size or changing your font style helps condense your CV or resume, do so as long as your text remains legible.
- Use single or 1.5 line spacing.
- Save your resume as Adobe PDF, .doc or .txt and name it professionally. We recommend this formula: Your-Name_Target Job Title_Resume_Date.FileType. For example: Jane-Doe_Resume-Writer_Resume.doc
Do you need a cover letter for a CV and resume?
Yes, you must write a cover letter for a CV and a resume. Cover letters are necessary because they allow you to provide information, such as career changes, job gaps, and insight into achievements and professional activities that a CV or resume can not.
Plus, cover letters allow you to express your personality, connect with the hiring manager and show off your research skills by giving you space to display your knowledge of the company, organization or institution so you can match your skills to their needs.
We have 500+ professional cover letter examples to get you started, and when you’re ready to write, download a free template to match your resume or CV, or use our Cover Letter Builder to build a custom letter in minutes.