CV vs Resume: What’s the Difference?

It’s critical to understand how resumes and CVs differ so that you can be sure to submit the appropriate one when the time comes. In this guide, we unpack the CV vs resume distinction, explore the meaning of the two terms, and provide a few examples to illustrate important differences.

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Is a CV the same as a resume?

More specifically, this guide will answer the following questions:

        • What’s a resume?
        • What’s a CV?
        • What is the difference between a CV and a resume?
        • How do I know when to use which?
        • Do these differences apply everywhere in the world?

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What is a Resume?

A resume is a concise, one- to two-page job application document that summarizes an applicant’s relevant skills, work history, and education.

It’s the tool used by most job seekers, across most industries, to get a foot in the door at a target company and (hopefully) secure an interview.

An effective resume is tailored for the job and shaped to show how a candidate’s qualifications and credentials align with the requirements of the position.


Resume Sections

Resumes typically include five essential sections:

  • Contact information: Full name, location, phone number, and email address.
  • Summary or objective statement: A short compelling introduction designed to grab an employer’s attention by spotlighting key skills and accomplishments or outlining professional goals and ambitions.
  • Work history: An overview of formal work experience and professional accomplishments, in reverse-chronological order.
  • Skills: A bulleted list of relevant hard and soft skills.
  • Education: A brief outline of studies and training, including college degrees and certifications.

Occasionally, a resume will also feature sections for awards, licenses, and/or hobbies, but in most cases, the five sections above are sufficient.

In summary, a resume is:

  • Used to apply for jobs across most industries and business settings.
  • One to two pages at most.
  • Concise and customized for the job.
  • Usually limited to five primary sections.
  • Organized according to one of three standard resume formats : Chronological, Functional, and Combination.
  • Typically focused on relevant work experience, professional achievements, and skills.
  • The most widely used job-seeking tool in North America.

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In North America, a CV (standing for “curriculum vitae”, meaning “course of (one’s) life” in Latin) is a detailed document that provides a comprehensive overview of an applicant’s academic background and achievements, publications, and professional qualifications.

It is usually found in academic, research, medical, and government work envrionments.

A strong CV is extensive, spanning several pages and covering every detail of a candidate’s academic career, research activities, and professional experience.

It paints a full picture of a person’s credentials to give potential employers or institutions all the information they need to assess suitability for a role or opportunity.


How to Tell If You Need a CV vs Resume

Ideally the job ad should make it clear whether the hiring manager wants a CV or a resume. But you can also use the context and descriptions above to figure out which one of the two you need.

In the U.S. and Canada, if you’re applying for an academic or research role, government work, or a position in the entertainment industry, it’s generally safe to submit a full CV.

If you’re applying for a regular job at a company or nonprofit in any other field, your best bet is to send in a concise resume.

Outside of North America, the picture gets a bit more complicated as different regions use different terms to refer to job-seeking tools.

CV vs Resume: Global Variations

In different countries, the words “resume” and “CV” tend to have distinct meanings or expectations. It’s therefore important to find out about local conventions when applying for positions internationally.

UK, Europe, and New Zealand:

Employers and job seekers only use the term “CV” when talking about job application documents, usually to refer to the equivalent of the one- to two-page U.S. resume; the term “resume” isn’t used at all.

South Africa, Australia, and India:

The terms “CV and “resume” mean the same thing: a concise, tailored job-seeking tool (similar to the U.S. resume). While nationals understand the term “resume”, “CV” is more commonly used.

The bottom line is if you’re not sure whether you should be submitting a CV or a resume, contact the hiring manager and ask them about their expectations. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

CV vs Resume Tips

When it comes to writing CVs and resumes, keep the following advice in mind:

  • Always make sure you’re submitting the right type of document for the purpose.

  • If job hunting outside of North America, check the local CV vs resume norms in the country where you’re applying.

  • When in doubt, ask the person managing the application process to clarify which document they want.

  • Never exceed two pages for a resume; length matters a lot less for a CV.

  • Update your CV every time there’s a development in your academic or professional life.

  • Create a new resume for each job application, tailoring it to the specifics of the position by including only relevant content.

  • Use an online builder to help you craft a professional CV or resume that meets expectations.

What is the Difference Between a CV and a Resume?

CV vs resume differences come down to the length, function, format, content, and depth of each document. If we compare the resume and CV summaries from above next to each other, you’ll see what makes these two tools distinct:


  • Used to apply for jobs across most industries and business settings.

  • One to two pages at most.

  • Concise and customized for the job.

  • Usually limited to five primary sections.

  • Organized according to one of three standard formats: Chronological, Functional, and Combination.

  • Typically focused on relevant work experience, professional achievements, and skills.

  • The most widely used job-seeking tool in North America.


  • Used to apply for academic and research positions, grants, fellowships, graduate programs, government vacancies, medical roles, and entertainment jobs.

  • As long as it needs to be (anything from two to ten pages) – there’s no length limit

  • Detailed and comprehensive.

  • Comprised of many additional sections.

  • Flexible in format, organized according to the purpose of the document.

  • Typically focused on academic credentials and accomplishments.

  • More commonly used as a job-seeking tool outside of North America.

Refer to this comparison the next time you’re trying to decide whether to submit a CV or a resume and use it as a guide to compile a document that meets a hiring manager’s expectations.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s critical to understand CV vs resume differences to ensure you submit the right application document.
  • A resume is a concise, customized job application tool that summarizes a candidate’s skills and professional achievements in one to two pages.
  • A CV is a detailed, comprehensive document that outlines an individual’s academic background and professional qualifications, typically used in academic, research, medical, and government contexts.
  • A resume differs from a CV in length, function, format, and content.
  • Comparing CV and resume examples is a good way to grasp the distinction between the two documents.
  • The distinction described here applies in the U.S. and Canada. Other countries attach different meanings and expectations to the terms “resume” and “CV”.
Pro Tip:

When applying for roles internationally, always clarify what sort of document is required.

CV vs Resume FAQ

Updated: December 12, 2023

A CV and resume are treated as the same in most countries outside of the United States. In the U.S. a CV, or curriculum vitae, is considered a comprehensive record of your entire academic and professional career. Due to this, they are usually required for academic and research positions, as well as certain types of Federal jobs. 

You should use a CV or a resume depending on two factors:

  • Your location.
  • The type of job.

If you are in the United States, you will most likely use a resume unless you apply for an academic or research position. If you are applying for an international job, you may be asked to provide a CV, but it is very likely that they are looking for the same type of document as a resume.

It is always important to confirm which document is preferred by the employer. Consider if you are applying to a common industry or a job in academia. 

You can replace a CV with a resume only if you are certain that the employer considers the CV and resume to be the same thing. Otherwise, if an employer asks for a CV, you will need to consider if they are looking for a more extensive profile of your qualifications.

In most countries, a CV will be one to two pages long, just like a resume. However, if you in the U.S. then the curriculum vitae can be up to ten pages long, depending upon the position you are applying to and your relevant qualifications. 


Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

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