What is the Difference between a Curriculum Vitae and Resume?

A resume and a curriculum vitae (CV) each summarize a job seeker's professional work experience, core skills, and education, and they share other categories as well, such as contact information and target job. However, they have differences that can be subtle as well as more obvious, and therefore, resumes and CVs are used in different circumstances.

Key Difference #1: Length

CVs and resumes are not the same length: A CV is typically longer than a resume is and includes highly detailed information about work history, education, and professional achievements. A CV is often 2 to 6 pages, but depending on experience, the number of years participating in the workforce, and one's achievements, an acceptable length might be 10 pages.

A resume is typically 1 to 2 pages and focuses on the most relevant and recent information. Resumes are meant to be concise and highlight key skills and achievements. They are optimized for a hiring manager to read and understand quickly. A hiring manager should be able to scan a well-formatted resume in less than 60 seconds and determine whether a candidate is likely to be a good fit for the open position. A resume that is too long or that lacks focus signals that the job seeker might not really understand the requirements of the target job or feel the need to clarify the lack of relevant experience to make-up for the shortfall.

Key Difference #2: Purpose

A CV is typically used when applying for academic or research positions, whereas a resume is used when applying for most other jobs.

CVs are preferred in academia because they provide a detailed record of an individual's professional experience and achievements. They are typically used to demonstrate an applicant's expertise and qualifications for a specific position or field of study. A CV might include sections not traditionally found on a resume, such as a list of published works and conference presentations.

Resumes are used in a wider range of industries and are meant to display an applicant's skills and experience in a way that is focused on the target job. A resume might not include previous experience that is irrelevant to the job seeker's target job, which is one of the reasons a resume is much shorter than a CV.

Key Difference #3: Content

A CV includes a comprehensive list of professional experiences and achievements, including details about the CV author's research, publications, and professional affiliations. It should include education, awards, honors, and relevant skills or certifications.

A resume generally focuses on a job seeker's most recent and relevant work experience and highlights key skills and achievements. It typically includes a summary of pertinent work history, education, and relevant skills. It may also include a list of notable accomplishments, but this is not required on a simple resume. It may also include information about relevant volunteer work or internships.

Key Difference #4: Format

CVs are usually more structured and formal than resumes are, with a specific format and layout that is standard within a given field. CVs are often divided into sections (e.g., education, publications, research interests, and work and research experience) and may include a list of presentations.

Resumes have greater flexibility and can be tailored to fit the needs of the target job. Resumes may include a variety of sections, such as a summary or objective, work experience, education, and skills, but the exact layout and content will depend on the job and the applicant's individual circumstances.

In summary, a CV is a longer and more detailed document that is used for academic and research positions, whereas a resume is a shorter and more targeted document that is used for most other jobs.