Resume vs. CV

A curriculum vitae, or CV for short, is not the same as a resume. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but there are some important differences you should be aware of.

The major difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume is the scope of the content. A curriculum vitae generally has a much wider scope, covering areas of your life and background that a resume won’t.

  • A curriculum vitae is generally a much longer document, commonly ranging anywhere from five to ten or more pages in length. A CV gives the employer a bigger picture of you as a person as well as you as a worker.
  • A resume is a brief, to the point, fact-by-fact analysis of your educational and professional life.
  • Curriculum vitae are preferred over resumes in Europe and other parts of the world. Resumes are the preferred document in the USA generally.

Which should you use?

First and foremost, give the employer what they ask for. In the USA, in most fields, if they do not specify whether they want your curriculum vitae or resume, it’s safe to assume a resume is what they’re expecting. It’s best to have both documents prepared before you start your job search if you’re in a field that generally requires a CV.

It’s less time-consuming to create a resume once you’ve got a CV, so if you think you’ll need a CV it’s best to get it out of the way and then condense it into a resume afterwards.

Here are some rules that govern which document you are likely to need:

When to use a Resume

  1. You are seeking an entry level job right out of college or high school.
  2. You are applying for a job in most non-academic sectors.
  3. The position relies almost solely on your technical skills (accounting, marketing, finance, computer programming, etc.).
  4. It is a ‘job’ rather than a ‘career.’

When to use a Curriculum Vitae / CV

  1. Higher level positions where you will be given more responsibility.
  2. You are applying for a job in the academic or medical fields.
  3. You’re seeking admission into a program (Ph.D., fellowship, internship in an academic or creative field).
  4. When you’re applying for a ‘career’ rather than a ‘job.’
  5. If you’re applying for jobs overseas, especially in Europe, employers generally expect a CV if they don’t specify a preference.
If the employer does not specify and you think a CV would be best, don’t hesitate to send both. In these cases the more information you provide them with, the better. Put your resume in front of the curriculum vitae.

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