When you’re applying for a specific job, you have two options to communicate your professional experience: resumes and CVs. You need to know the difference between a resume and a CV so you can respond to the job application with all the information required. There are several differences between the CV vs resume, but both of them explain your work history in written form. Depending on your course of life, it’s possible you will need both!
Although the purpose of both documents is similar, they do have different applications based on your industry and location. In some parts of the world, a CV and resume are terms that are used interchangeably and essentially mean the same thing. We’ll go through what the differences are so you can find out which one you should be using.
Main Differences Between a CV (Curriculum Vitae) and a Resume
Here are three major differences between a CV and a resume:
- Location – The resume is the most widely accepted document in the United States and Canada. The CV is most widely accepted in Europe, Africa, India and most Asian countries. A CV is sometimes accepted for academic and research positions where more in-depth information is usually required.
- Content – Although both cover education, skill and past work experience a CV can also include numerous publications, research, marital status, salary, images and references.
- Length – A resume is usually one or two pages long. The CV is usually two pages or longer. The reason for the difference in length is that the CV goes into more depth regarding education, skills and experience.
What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?
The word Curriculum Vitae is a Latin term which translates to “the story of your life”. A CV is essentially an in-depth overview of a person’s experience, qualifications and education. The CV is used primarily in Europe, Africa, India and most Asian countries.
In some parts of the world, it’s common to see more personal information on a CV such as marital status, nationality, date of birth and even a photograph.
Here is an example of a CV:
You can find another example CV here.
What is a resume?
A resume is a short summary of your skills, qualifications and education which is usually targeted and tailored to each position. It’s a quick and relevant advertisement of who you are and why you’re a good fit for a particular position. The resume is the standard job search document for the United States and Canada.
Here is an example of a resume:
Should I Use a CV Or a Resume?
You should use the format that’s more widely accepted in the country you’re applying for. You should also always check instructions in the job posting to see if the employer asks for either a resume or CV.
If you’re applying for a position in the United States, you will be sending a resume 99% of the time. A CV which is more in depth than a resume is primarily used in the US when applying for teaching or research opportunities.
In the case where you’re looking for work in another country, you should find out which format they accept. If it’s different from the one you currently have, then you need to reformat it.
Tips for both a CV and resume
Whether you’re sending a resume or CV, you want to ensure that you’re delivering an effective and well written document. It’s the first impression you have on an employer and both documents serve as a marketing tool to help you land a job.
Here are four tips to keep in mind when writing a CV or resume.
- ATS Optimized
Gone are the days when hiring managers would sort through hundreds of resumes to find candidates. Applicant tracking system (ATS) technology is used by most employers to screen your resume before it’s ever seen by human eyes.
Your resume or CV should be written in a standard and concise format. Use the correct headers and keywords you find in the job description to ensure the ATS understands you’re qualified and fit for the position.
- Spelling Errors
Always double check a resume or CV for any errors in spelling and grammar. Most employers will reject a resume or CV even with a single error. Remember that it’s your first impression and if you can’t write an important document without errors, then they will doubt your ability to perform the job.
Microsoft Word can’t correct every mistake so give it over to a friend or professional for review.
- Cover Letter
Whether you’re sending a resume or CV, it’s always a good idea to send a cover letter as well. A well written cover letter can catch the hiring manager’s attention and drastically improve your chances at an interview.
Your cover letter should be a bit about who you are, your qualifications and why you’re a good fit for the position. Keep the length under a page whether you’re sending it with a resume or CV.
You can read our post on how to write an awesome cover letter.
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make on a resume or CV is listing out job duties where you should be listing achievements. Try to include examples of how you went above and beyond and use numbers where possible. “Reduced overhead expenses by 35% in a 6-month period” sounds a lot more effective vs. “Reduced overhead expenses”.
A resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV) are essentially the same thing, a marketing tool to get the job. Which one you use depends on the country or position you’re applying for. Regardless of which one you need, ensure that the most important tool for your job search is written properly and shows the employer that you’re an excellent fit.
Good luck with your job search!