CV vs. resume: What’s the difference?

When applying for a new position, the most common resource provided by candidates is their CV or resume. But, are CV and resume the same thing? The answer is no. Their meaning and content usually differ across countries. Read the following definition to better understand what the difference between CV and resume is across various regions.

What is a CV?

CV is the abbreviation of the Latin ‘curriculum vitae’, which means ‘course of life’. In the US and Canada, a CV includes a person’s detailed career and educational history. Common CV sections are:

  • Personal Statement
  • Education
  • Working experience
  • Skills 
  • Research
  • Publications 
  • Conferences
  • Grants

Globally, CVs are common when applying for academic roles, such as research and medical positions. However, in Europe, the UK, and Ireland the word CV is used more broadly and describes a one- or two-page document with the applicant’s most important information – no matter the role they’re pursuing. This CV definition is closer to the US resume.

And what is a resume?

The French word résumé means ‘summary’. A resume, indeed, sums up the applicant’s career history and achievements. In the US and Canada, resumes are popular when applying for business and non-profit roles. They are concise and include all relevant skills and qualifications that show an applicant’s suitability for a certain position. 

Job candidates often tweak the format to match the specific requirements of a role. For example, they might restructure their resume to shift the emphasis either on professional or academic achievements. Resumes mostly include:

  • Education
  • Personal statement
  • Working experience
  • Soft skills
  • Technical knowledge
  • Knowledge of foreign languages

Can I use a resume instead of a CV? 

CV vs. resume – which one should I choose? When applying for a role, make sure to read the job application guidelines carefully to figure out if you need to include a resume or a CV. When you don’t have specific instructions, follow the trends of the country you’re in. When you’re posting a new job ad, no matter where you are in the world, you need to use the “local language” of the country you’re recruiting in. To sum up:

  1. In the US, a resume is more common while CVs are used for academic purposes.
  2. In Europe, the UK, and Ireland the term CV is prevalent but describes a shorter document. For academic purposes, people use the so-called academic CVs, which include their full career history.
  3. In other countries, like Australia, candidates use the word CV and resume interchangeably to describe the same document, which briefly mentions the candidate’s most important career details.

Did you find this CV vs. resume definition useful? For more HR-related definitions, see our HR Terms section.

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