What’s the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?

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Christian from Chamberlain University asked:

“Whats the difference between a CV and a resume? Why would one be preferred over the other?”

Thank you for your question Christian. If you’ve looked for job search tips online, you’ll find that Resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV) seem to be used interchangeably. While they are similar, they are not the same! There are distinct differences and specific situations where one is preferred over the other.

Length and Content

Resumes are brief and focused documents which rarely exceed 1 or 2 pages. They focus on your educational and occupational experiences and work best when the content is tailored to the job position. You’re likely to craft a new resume for each application and can customize the format to meet your needs. Resumes are the highlight reel of your professional life.

CVs are much more comprehensive, lengthy, and contain a high level of detail. They use a very distinct chronological format to list all of your experiences as well as any publications, awards and other accomplishments. You’re unlikely to tailor your CV to particular positions, and will simply add to it like a living document. CVs are the full story of your professional life. 

Usage and Popularity

In the United States, Resumes are more than likely the correct choice for your job search. Depending on the position, employers are screening thousands of candidates, and aren’t going to take the time to read your whole life story. They want to know at a glance if you’re the right fit for the job, and a Resume will accomplish that.

CVs are generally reserved for academic or research type positions where publication and peer review are important facets of your career. Graduate and Doctoral students applying to fellowships or grants may also be asked for a CV. CVs are also the preferred application document in many European countries.

So, which do I use?

If you’re planning on working in the United States, a Resume will probably suit your needs. If you venture into academia or are planning on working internationally, it may be time to start building your CV. Most job applications will state which document to submit, but don’t hesitate to reach out to your point person for clarification if you’re ever unsure. At the end of the day, it can’t hurt to have a current version of both, just in case!

Best of Luck,



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About the Author

Esme Smith

Esme received her M.A. In Counseling from St. Edward's University, and worked with students at Concordia University Texas' Career Center. She developed a passion for Career Counseling after leaving undergrad without much guidance, and grappling with unsatisfying work. She strives to help others bridge the gap between graduation and "the real world."

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