The biggest differences between a resume and a curriculum vitae (CV) are length, content, and what type of job each is used to apply for.
Although both are used to apply for an empty position, they are not interchangeable:
What Is a CV?
CV is short for curriculum vitæ, which means “course of life” in Latin. In the United States, CV’s are comprehensive documents highlighting your academic career, work history, and achievements. They’re also used exclusively to apply for positions in academia or research.
If you’re writing an academic CV, you need to list:
- publications and dissertations
- research projects
- attended conferences
- previous academic positions (and non-academic work experience)
- academic qualifications, including GPA, major/minor, educational level (Bachelor, PhD) etc.
- received grants
- professional affiliations (e.g., membership of the IEEE —Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
It’s no wonder that a CV can run on for several pages.
This example academic curriculum vitae was written by a Professor of Anthropology who has been in the American university system for over 40 years. Note his many publications (and don’t feel bad if the CV below is a bit longer than yours. He’s been building it since the 1970s).
What Is a Resume?
A resume is a one- or two-page summary of your work experience, key skills, and job-related qualifications.
In contrast to a CV, a resume is used to apply for all jobs outside of academia. So the majority of people applying for a job should learn how to write a resume rather than a CV.
Resumes also differ from CV’s in that they include a skills section, which lists the professional skills you’ve honed over your career. You should include plenty of resume skills to showcase your abilities to the hiring manager. Just make sure they’re relevant to the job.
Another key difference from a CV is that a resume education section is much shorter. You only need to state your college, program name, and GPA (if it’s high).
This waiter/waitress resume sample shows how a typical resume in a job application should look:
The Difference Between a CV and a Resume
In many ways, a curriculum vitae and a resume are functionally the same. For instance, they both summarize your work experience and education, whether for hiring managers or a faculty hiring committee.
But there are three key differences:
- Scope: A CV is an in-depth look at your life’s accomplishments. A resume is a short summary of your most relevant work achievements.
- Purpose: CVs are used to apply for academic roles or graduate school programs. Resumes are used to apply for all other jobs.
- Length: A CV grows over your lifetime as you add new information, and can run over 10 pages in length. Meanwhile, the average resume length is one or two pages, and only includes your last 10-15 years of work experience.
Clear on the main differences between a CV and a resume? Good, now let’s look at each document in more detail.
Resume vs CV (International Differences)
Outside of the United States, the word resume is generally swapped out for CV. This has led to some international confusion, which we clear up in this section.
UK and Europe 🇬🇧 🇪🇺
In most European countries, including the UK and Ireland, “curriculum vitae” refers to the short, one-page document you write for a job application. Resume is a rare term, but is still understood by most hiring managers.
CVs for academic positions are also called CVs in Europe. However, you might hear them called academic CVs since it makes the meaning clearer.
Canadian businesses use resume in the same way as American companies, likely due to Canada’s proximity to the US. Similarly, a CV is used to apply for academic posts.
In Australia, resumes and CVs are both used to apply for jobs. Resumes tend to be one page, summarizing the main highlights of your career, while CVs are around two to three pages and outline all of your professional experience.
New Zealand 🇳🇿
Similar to Australia, a resume is usually one page and a curriculum vitae is two to three pages long in New Zealand. Both are used to apply for jobs.
You might need to create both, since employers will either ask for one or the other.
An “academic CV” will be much longer, as in the US.
South Africa 🇿🇦
South Africa also uses the words resume and CV interchangeably. However, resumes are more common in the private sector (like business or the service industry), while a CV is used when applying for positions in public service or government.
When to Use a Curriculum Vitae vs a Resume
If you’re seeking a teaching or research position at a college in the US, use a CV.
The hiring committee will need to know as much about your educational background as possible before making a decision, and the best way to communicate this information is with a CV.
For any other positions (within a college or elsewhere), your education is less important, so you should use a resume.
To sum up the differences between a CV and resume, in the US, a resume is a short, one-page document you use to apply for a job. A curriculum vitae is a specialized, multiple-page chronology of your professional and educational background, used primarily by academics like university professors.
Professors and lecturers who submit a CV outside of the US should call their document an “academic CV” to make clear what it is.
While we don’t offer academic CV templates (yet), we do have professional industry-specific resume samples you can use to apply for a job in the US or abroad.
And if that sounds like too much work, you can create an excellent resume (or CV as it’s called abroad) in roughly 5 minutes by using our free resume builder.