The Difference Between Resumes and CVs


by Michele Lando,

Most people believe that the terms “resume” and “CV” are interchangeable, but that is far from correct. Unfortunately, these crucial documents aren’t discussed very often in school, so as we make our way out into the workforce, we are forced to do some research and figure it out on our own.

Resumes and CVs are both documents that elaborate on your career path, but there are major differences between the two documents. What are they? I’ve listed it all out below to make things simple! Never confuse a resume and a CV again.

  1. Length: First off, a resume is usually around a page — sometimes two pages at the absolute maximum.

A CV is almost never just one page. If your “CV” is a single page, you most likely have a resume.

  1. Details: While you want to be detailed in your job descriptions on a resume, there is also a lot you may leave out to save space — or simply because you can always elaborate more in the interview. For instance, you often won’t list specific projects you completed at a previous job unless they were major achievements for you or you earned special recognition for them. A resume is like a preview for a movie: It shows off all the great parts and entices employers to learn more by going to see the whole picture, so to speak. Your resume highlights all of your qualifications and achievements, and it encourages hiring managers to give you a chance at a wowing them further in an interview.

Meanwhile, a CV is exhaustive. You want everything about your career on that CV, including internships, publications, research experience, and all levels of training. Think of your CV as the full-length feature film. On your CV, you want to show off the whole shebang. Make sure to include publications that are both in print and in progress, your independent research, and all of those little details that make your career unique. “CV” stands for “curriculum vitae,” which is (roughly) Latin for “the story of your life” — so go all out and show potential employers the entire story of your career.

Who Should Use a CV? Who Should Use a Resume?

CVs are most commonly used by people the research, scientific, and/or higher education fields, including grad students, professors, and so on. People with extensive knowledge or certifications who have been in an industry for 10+ years also may use one, including doctors, scientists, firefighters, and engineers.

Most people will use resumes, simply because hiring managers tend to prefer these more concise documents. Unless you’re an individual in a very specialized field where a lot of certifications, research, and/or specific knowledge are required, you should stick with a resume.

I’m Making a CV — What Should I Put on It?

One word: Everything!

Some of the things that may be included on a CV but not a resume are classes you’ve taken, your specialized areas of study within a field, any publications you have, research experience, work projects, and personal research projects as well.

You should also highlight your education at the top of a CV, whereas, with a resume, you can usually leave your educational details at the bottom.

The Bottom Line: A resume is a picture of your career, all wrapped up in an easy-to-read and concise package meant to entice hiring managers to interview you. A CV, on the other hand, is much more in depth, and it is used to sell all of your experiences in various critical areas of your career.

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