Differences Between CV and a Resume – Which to use?

Differences Between CV and a Resume – Which to use?

A resume is drastically different from a CV, in formatting as well as usage. To use the right document when applying to a job application, you must know the core differences that separate the two. The key difference between CV and a resume are the total length of the document.

Depending on the requirements of the job, candidates must use CV and resume interchangeably depending on how well it fits.

Resume Vs CV: Which to use for a Job Application

If you walk into any office and ask what a CV is, 90% people will tell you it’s a resume. To use your resume or CV correctly, you must know the markers that separate the two. From work experience to total length, many parameters can judge which amongst resume or CV fits your resume the best.

What is a Resume?

Often referred to as the Resume, a professional Resume is a gist of your career graph, in brief, customized to the job you’re applying for.  Depending on the work experience history, candidates must keep the length of the resume to one, two or three pages.  Resumes are a brief summary of the candidate’s work history, technical skills, career graph and goals, sent with a cover letter that introduces the former.

Resume must be short as hiring managers to take less than a few minutes to decide whether a resume is qualified for the job vacancy. The motive of a resume is to quickly help in comparing and contrasting diverse candidates based on their professional credentials. A resume is the first interaction of the candidate with the recruiter spanning from layout to design, format and even tone in a resume is used to personalize and professionalize your candidature.

Resumes are customized to pass robot scanners such as ATS by adding standard section headers. Header to use in a resume to divide sections are-

  • Professional Title
  • Objective
  • Summary
  • Work Experience
  • Skills, Achievements
  • References

What is a CV?

Also called the Curriculum Vitae, CV is a long or expanded version of the resume that encloses the complete professional history of the candidate. Etymologically translated from the Latin words for the course of life, CV is an explicitly organized document that records your professional autobiography since educational qualifications. Moreover, a CV can extend up to ten pages for research scholar positions.

Curriculum Vitae or CV is a useful format for academic professionals as it helps to include lengthy portfolios, unlike a resume. From achievements to education and details about your publishing history, the section headers in a CV are diverse. Moreover, there is no page limit for a CV for academic professionals!

CV Summary is interchangeably used to replace experience-focused resume as well.
The various sections in Curriculum Vitae are divided into

  • Contact Information
  • Education
  • Tutoring Experience
  • Research History
  • Fellowships/ Awards/ Grants
  • Publications/ Presentations
  • Memberships (Scholarly/Professional)
  • Service History
  • References

When to use a Resume for Job Application

Following markers will help you decide when to use a Resume to apply for a job.

1) Job Application is based in U.S or Canada

Most U.S and Canadian jobs use Resume format than CV due to its ease of scanning. If you’re doubtful which format to use for your profile, ask the HR Manager directly.

2) For Private Sector Jobs

Most jobs from private sectors require resumes to apply, unlike public sector jobs that may request a CV for a thorough background check of the candidate.

3) Job Description Requires So

If your job application specifies you to submit a resume than a CV, go ahead and make a winning resume!

4) Short Resume

Often, recruiters explicitly ask for a short or brief resume that is less than 5 MB or two pages in size. A resume will come in handy if you make a short gist of your professional credentials for the job.

When to Use a CV for Job Application

The below recommendations can be used to choose a CV format for job application.

1) International Job Applications

If you’re applying for a Job outside of U.S or Canada, such as Europe, Asia or Australia, it is important to submit a CV, as such jobs need extensive checks on the credentials of the candidates as part of the hiring processes.

2) Academic or Medical Professional

It is common for research scientists, doctors and academicians to use a CV as the resume cannot accommodate the complete professional history.

3) Internships / Scholarships/ Exchange programs

When applying for grants, fellowship or even internship jobs use a CV to list your professional and educational records in extensive detail.

4) Detailed Resume

If the job description does not mention the word CV but specifies a detailed resume, it is best to carry your CV as a bonus, in case the recruiters were demanding the long version of your profile.

Core Differences Between a Resume and a CV

Even though Resume and CV might look similar, both are distinct from each other due to any core differences such as the following. Knowing these differences will help you select the right format for your job application.

1.) Length

The primary difference between a resume and CV is the total length, where Resume is shorter than a CV as the two contain different sets of information. While resumes list the information in condensed phrases and concise bulleted points, a CV elaborates each entry to specify all the technical details associated with it.  Resume can extend up to four pages; however, the 2-page resume is considered ideal while a CV is mostly more than 10 pages.

2.) Layout

The design between a Resume and CV are different. From section headers to white space economy, many differences between the layout or design of a CV and a resume makes each unique in its own ways. Although there are common sections in a resume and CV, both have different arrangements and layout.

3.) Relevancy

A resume is more relevant than a CV as it is customized to fit the responsibilities sought by the recruiter. On the other hand, a CV contains your complete professional history and is often irrelevant to most job applications, except those in academics.

Motive or purpose is the focus in a good resume, while a CV is akin to a professional autobiography that has a collection of motives than one!


Next time someone asks you the differences, remember to share the key points from the above!

You must also use CV and resumes appropriately when applying for a job based on its description and your professional records. Using the right format will help you stand out during a job interview as well. You can also combine the pros of resumes and CVs to create your own personalized layout!

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