The Difference Between Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Resume

The Difference Between Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Resume

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It’s common for job seekers, especially fresh graduates, to assume that a curriculum vitae (CV) and resume are the same document, especially for job seekers. They are similar forms of document but not used or needed for the same purposes. Unsure of how to craft or use either one of them? Read through this article for a better picture.

What is a curriculum vitae (CV)?

A curriculum vitae or also known as CV, which means course of life in Latin, is a thorough and in-depth version of your career and professional summary. You can list your full career biography and accomplishments in your CV. Written in a chronological order, the contents of a CV can range from notable awards received, academic achievements, teaching, research, or mentoring experiences, publications, degrees obtained and other qualifications which support an individual’s credibility and competencies. This piece of document is popular amongst academics or individuals who apply for work abroad.

What is a Resume?

It is a concise and brief summary of your education, work history, skills, goals, and other credentials which relates to the job in mind. Information is often presented in sections to allow the reader to skim through with ease. The reader is not supposed to spend too much time on a resume and the aim of a resume is to command interest in a jiffy. You can make an impression via your resume by attaching some of your work portfolios; especially if they’ve received media mention and also by using an interesting template or format. Having an accompanying cover letter also helps.

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Key Differences of CV and Resume


  • Length
    Curriculum vitae (CV): Due to its important purpose of recording achievements and your overall career track record, a CV is rather lengthy; think, three to 12 pages long as an example. As mentioned earlier in this article, it is presented in a chronological order and it’s a good idea to provide a CV summary to accompany it. A CV summary acts as a condensed version of the CV, highlighting latest accomplishments which then can be referred to in the main document by the employer.Resume: Typically, it’s a one-pager with short sentences and bulleted points. The succinct format and information in this document can be separated into sections such as personal information, education background, mission and goals to make it readable and well-understood. It is encouraged to attach a cover letter with the resume submission to give the reader a broader overview of the job seeker’s interest, skills and capabilities which they can contribute to the company they applied for.
  • Content and Tone
    CV: Usually static, the information presented in a CV will not be altered frequently. It’s meant to be an evergreen document which can be used as a reference throughout your career. The tone of the document is formal, clear and detailed. Resume: The content is tailored to the job applied for, hence customisable. It’s advisable to keep the tone formal with some character. This is where a little bit of fun comes mainly for those vying for a creative role. Video or visual resumes allows them to produce an impressive and compelling show and tell to be in the running to land on the job of their dreams. On a side note, make things convenient by creating a master resume and cover letter. Just change the main information based on the job nature applied for as you go.
  • Purpose
    CV: Most times, CVs are used as references; so that potential employers can look further into your experience and background. Do not worry about providing too much information because this document is meant for that purpose. Despite it being a static document, don’t forget to update it when you switch jobs or obtain new certifications.Resume: It’s a summary of your skills, a mini advertisement about who you are and your proficiencies. It’s designed to pique the interest of a potential employer to call you in for a face-to-face interview.

Related: Why You Should Keep Your Resume Updated

In a nutshell, the next time anyone you know uses the terms: CV and resume interchangeably or doesn’t know the difference, you can tell them why it’s not quite the same.

Here’s a recap:

CV: In-depth, fixed content, used to share career biography and can be accompanied by a one-to-two pager CV summary.

Resume: Tailored to the job offer, succinct, no specific format and can be accompanied by a cover letter.

Good luck and enjoy the writing process!

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