CV vs Resume: What’s The Difference?

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: June 26, 2024

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Whether you’re applying for a job in the United States or abroad, knowing whether to make a CV (curriculum vitae) or write a resume can significantly impact your job application. While both documents showcase your skills, experiences and qualifications, they are used in different contexts and have distinct formats. By exploring the components, uses and best practices for CVs and resumes, you’ll be well-prepared to make a strong impression on potential employers and advance your career. So how do you know when to use a CV vs a resume?

This guide will help you understand: 

  • The key differences between a CV and a resume.
  • How to determine when to use each.
  • How to craft these documents to highlight your professional strengths effectively. 

Dive in to learn everything you need to know about CVs and resumes, from their fundamental differences to expert tips on writing and formatting.

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Difference between a CV and a resume

In the United States, 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. While a resume might use a specific format, a CV does not have a standard format. Our professional CV templates ensure your CV is formatted correctly. 

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. Explore our library of resume templates to craft a professional resume easily. 

CV Vs Resume Difference

Regional Differences Between a CV and a Resume

When applying for jobs internationally, it's important to understand the regional preferences for CVs and resumes because these documents serve different purposes depending on the country. Understanding these regional differences ensures you present your qualifications appropriately, increasing your chances of making a positive impression on potential employers.

Internationally, the distinction between a resume and a CV can be less clear. In many European and Asian countries, the term CV is used universally for all job applications, regardless of the field. This means that whether you are applying for a corporate or academic position, you would typically submit a document called a CV.

However, these international CVs often resemble the U.S.-style resume in length and content. Therefore, when applying for jobs abroad, it's crucial to understand the local conventions and expectations for application documents. Always check the job description and seek guidance on whether a CV or resume is appropriate to ensure your application meets regional standards.

Let’s compare how CVs and resumes are used across various regions:

United States

  • CV: Typically used for academic, medical, legal and scientific positions. It comprehensively overviews one’s educational background, research, publications and professional activities.
  • Resume: Preferred for most other job applications. It is a concise summary of work experience, relevant skills and educational background, usually one to two pages long.

United Kingdom

  • CV: The term CV is commonly used instead of a resume. It serves as the standard document for all job applications, similar to the resume in the U.S., but it may include more detailed sections depending on the job requirements.
  • Resume: Less commonly used; the CV is the standard document.

Europe

  • CV: In many European countries, the term CV is synonymous with a resume and is used for all job applications. The Europass CV format is often recommended for consistency across EU countries.
  • Resume: Rarely used; the CV is the preferred document for job applications.

Asia

  • CV: In countries like India, China and Japan, the term CV is often used interchangeably with resume. However, the content and structure might vary based on local norms and job expectations.
  • Resume: The term “resume” may be used, but the format and details required can differ significantly from Western standards.

Australia and New Zealand

  • CV: Similar to the U.K., a CV is commonly used for all job applications. It details education, work experience and skills in a structured format.
  • Resume: Less commonly used; the CV is the standard document.

Tips for comparing CVs vs resumes for different countries:

  • Terminology: Understand the preferred term (CV or resume) and its connotation in the specific region.
  • Content and length: Be aware of the expected content and length, which can vary significantly between regions.
  • Format: Familiarize yourself with any region-specific formatting guidelines, such as the Europass CV in Europe.

Related resources: 

When to use a CV vs a resume

Determining when to use a CV vs a resume can be confusing. Here are some tips to help you decide: 

  • Check the job description. The easiest way to determine if you need a CV or a resume is to check the job description. Employers will often specify which document they prefer. If the job posting requests a detailed account of your academic and professional background, you’ll likely need a CV. A resume is more appropriate if it asks for a concise summary of your qualifications.
  • Consider your industry. CVs are typically required for academic, medical, law- and research-oriented roles in the United States. These fields value a comprehensive overview of your educational background, research, publications and professional activities.
  • Resumes in the U.S. are generally preferred in most other industries, such as business, marketing, engineering and technology, where a brief, targeted summary of your experience and skills is more effective.
  • Geographical differences. In the U.S., resumes are commonly used for most job applications, while CVs are reserved for specific fields. In the U.K. and many other countries in Europe and Asia, the term CV is often used interchangeably with resume, and a CV is the standard document for all job applications.
  • Nature of the position. For academic positions, use a CV to detail your research, teaching experience, publications and academic achievements. For other professional roles, use a resume to highlight your work experience, relevant skills and accomplishments concisely.

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.

CV examples

Looking for inspiration to create an impressive CV? Our extensive collection of CV examples showcases a variety of formats and styles tailored to different industries and career levels. Explore these and the following examples to find your match.

 

Attorney CV example

Attorney CV Example

Dentist CV example
Dentist CV Example

College professor CV example

College Professor CV Example

 

CV templates

Crafting a professional CV is easy with our wide range of customizable CV templates. Designed to suit various industries and experience levels, our templates help you effectively present your skills and qualifications. Explore our collection and the following examples to find the perfect template that matches your career goals and personal style.

 

Teacher CV template

Teacher CV Example

Accountant CV template

Accountant CV Example

Customer service representative CV template

Customer Service Representative CV Example

Key components of a CV

CVs are structured similarly to resumes, with five essential sections: contact information, professional profile, comprehensive job history, education, and professional skills. However, a key difference between CVs and resumes is that CVs often include additional sections.

When you make your CV you might include sections like:

  • Research experience
  • Teaching or lecturing experience
  • Publications
  • Conference presentations and speaking engagements
  • Language proficiency
  • Awards and honors
  • Research
  • Professional affiliations
  • Publications
  • Certifications
  • Hobbies and interests relevant to your field
  • Professional licenses
  • Grants, fellowships, and scholarships
  • Professional associations and memberships
  • Volunteer work
  • Professional references

What is a resume?

Now you know all about CVs and CV vs resume differences, but what is a resume

A resume is a concise document that highlights a job applicant's most relevant qualifications for a specific role. Typically one to two pages long, it focuses on work experience, skills and education, making it an ideal tool for quickly showcasing your job qualifications. Unlike a CV, which provides a comprehensive overview of one's career, a resume should be tailored to each job application, emphasizing only the most pertinent information to catch the employer's attention.

Who should use a resume vs a CV?

Whether to write a resume or a CV depends largely on your profession and geographical location. In the United States, resumes are preferred for most job applications across various industries. They are concise, typically one or two pages long, and focus on relevant work experience, skills and education. This makes them ideal for roles in business, technology, marketing and other fields where brevity and clarity are valued.

However, a CV is commonly used in academic, medical, scientific and research-oriented careers. These documents can be much longer and more detailed, showcasing comprehensive professional histories, including publications, presentations, grants and other academic achievements.

Essential components of a resume

Keep the following sections in mind when writing your resume: 

  • Contact information: Your name, phone number, email address and LinkedIn profile (if applicable) should be prominently displayed at the top of the resume for easy contact.
  • Professional summary or objective: A brief statement highlighting your career goals, key skills and what you bring to the table for potential employers.
  • Work experience: Your work history should include a detailed list of your previous jobs, including job titles, companies worked for, dates of employment and key achievements in each role.
  • Education: Your educational background, including degrees earned, institutions attended and graduation dates. Include relevant coursework, honors, or academic achievements if they enhance your qualifications.
  • Skills: A section that lists a mix of professional skills, such as hard skills (technical abilities specific to the job) and soft skills (personal attributes and interpersonal abilities).
  • Optional sections: Depending on your experience and the job you're applying for, you may include optional sections such as certifications, professional affiliations, volunteer work, languages spoken, or interests relevant to the job. Just ensure your resume is no more than one or two pages long.

Resume examples

Explore our expansive library of resume examples tailored to various industries and career stages and the samples below for inspiration on how to craft an impressive resume.

High school student resume example

High School Student Resume Example

Retail sales representative resume example

Retail Sales Representative Resume Example

Cook resume example

Cook Resume Example

Resume templates 

Streamline your resume with our diverse collection of professionally designed resume templates or start with one of the templates below. 

Personal trainer resume template

Personal Trainer Resume Example

Construction worker resume template

Construction Worker Resume Example

 
Human resources representative resume template

Human Resources Manager Resume Example

Professional tips for writing a strong CV or resume

Crafting a compelling CV or resume requires more than just listing your work experience and education. It involves strategically presenting your skills, achievements and qualifications to stand out in a competitive job market. 

Here are some expert tips to help you create a strong CV or resume that resonates with recruiters and employers alike:

  • Tailor your CV or resume for each job application by incorporating relevant keywords from the job description. 
  • Reverse-chronological order: Present your work experience in reverse-chronological order (most recent job first). This standard format makes it easy for recruiters to see your career progression.
  • To boost your job qualifications, begin bullet points with strong action verbs like "managed," "developed,” and "implemented."
  • Format your document using standard fonts like Arial and Times New Roman and avoid using images or graphics that can confuse ATS. Use relevant headings and bullet points for clarity.
  • Highlight your accomplishments rather than just listing job duties. Quantify your achievements with numbers or percentages to demonstrate your impact in previous roles. For example, rather than saying “Responsible for managing a team,” say “Led a team of 10 employees, resulting in a 20% increase in productivity.” 
  • Proofread your CV or resume for grammatical errors and typos. Consider seeking feedback from a colleague or mentor to ensure clarity and professionalism.

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a CV or a resume

  • Using a generic template for every job application. Customizing your CV or resume to match the specific job description and company culture demonstrates your genuine interest in the role and increases your chances of being noticed. 
  • Including Irrelevant Information. Focus on showcasing your most recent and job-relevant experiences, skills, and accomplishments directly related to the job.
  • Not using a resume format that matches your experience and goals. How you organize your job qualifications can make or break your resume. For example, while the chronological resume format is commonly used, we recommend using the functional resume format if you are applying for your first job.
  • Failing to use action words and quantifiable achievements. Many CVs and resumes suffer from vague language and a lack of specific achievements. Instead of simply listing job duties, use action verbs and quantify your accomplishments to provide a clear picture of your contributions. 
  • Ignoring keywords and failing to optimize your document for ATS can result in your application being overlooked. Use keywords naturally and ensure your CV or resume is formatted in an ATS-friendly way.
  • Poor formatting. A well-organized and visually appealing CV or resume is easier to read and leaves a positive impression on hiring managers. Avoid using overly complex layouts, small fonts, or excessive graphics that can distract from the content.

Key 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 the format. Three standard resume formats exist, but you should organize your CV according to the job.
  • In the U.S., fields like academia, medicine and law typically use CVs. Resumes are appropriate 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.

 

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