What's the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 February 2021

Published 26 June 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

While reading job postings, you may have noticed some employers ask for a resume, others ask for a CV and a few may ask for a “resume/CV”. While both resumes and CVs are used in job applications (and some employers may accept either), these two documents have a few distinct differences.

To help you make sure you’ve prepared the right document for your job applications, here is some clarification on the difference between a CV and a resume.

  1. What is a CV?

  2. What is a resume?

  3. Resume vs. CV: Here are the differences

  4. Should I use a resume or a CV?

What is a CV?

A CV (abbreviation for the Latin word curriculum vitae or “course of life”) is a detailed document sharing not only your career history but also your education, awards, special honours, grants or scholarships, research or academic projects and publications. A CV may also include professional references, coursework, fieldwork, descriptions of research projects or dissertations, hobbies and interests and a personal profile that lists your skills and positive attributes. Generally, a CV is chronological and starts with your educational experience.

What is a resume?

A resume is a document that summarises your career history, skills and education. A resume may also list relevant professional associations or volunteer work and may include an objective statement that shares your professional goals. The term resume originates from the French word résumé, which translates to “abstract” or “summary”.

Often people list their professional experience on a resume in reverse chronological order, starting with their current or most recent job. If you are a recent graduate with little or no professional history, you would start with your education and then list any relevant internships or apprenticeships.

Related: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

Resume vs. CV: Here are the differences

The differences between a resume and a CV include the document’s length and the ability to customise layout options. Additionally, the region and career path of the individual must be taken into account when deciding which is appropriate to use. See more on how they differ below.

  • Length: While most people strive to keep their resume as concise as possible, ideally only one to two pages, a CV can run several pages in length. That’s because a CV includes more information than a resume.

  • Experience/career type: Often, CVs are used by people in academic roles. You may have a CV if you are currently applying to or have graduated from a master’s or doctoral program or if you work as a professor or researcher at an academic institution.

  • Ability to customise: A CV is a static document that does not change. You may add new information to a CV throughout your professional career but the information will not change based on where you’re applying. A resume, on the other hand, is often tailored to highlight specific skills or experiences relevant to the position or industry.

  • Geography: In other regions of the world, such as the U.K., New Zealand and parts of Europe, employers use the term CV to describe both CV and resume-style documents. They don’t use the term “resume” at all. In South Africa, Australia and India, the terms CV and resume are often used interchangeably. However, in the U.S., a resume and CV are two distinctly different types of documents.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing

Should I use a resume or a CV?

If you’re unsure whether an employer requires a resume or CV, ask yourself the following questions to help determine the best document.

  • What kind of job are you applying for?
    If you’re applying for a job in academia, especially as an educator, teaching assistant or researcher at a college or university, then you’ll probably need a CV. Some postsecondary institutions have guidelines for what to include in a CV, so be sure to check the school’s website for this information before you apply.

  • Where is the company based?
    Depending on where the company is located, a CV may refer to a standard resume or it may refer to the longer, highly detailed document explained above. To determine which you should send, first consider the type of job. If it’s an academic or research position, the employer is likely seeking a traditional CV. However, if it’s a position that you’d use a standard resume for when applying in the U.S. then the employer is likely seeking the shorter resume-style document.

If you’re in doubt about whether you should send a CV or a resume, reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager and ask for clarification.

If you have a resume but not a CV (or vice versa), it may be worthwhile to put one together. A CV is, in many ways, a more detailed version of a resume with a few additional pieces of information, so creating one from the other shouldn’t require a great deal of work. Having the right document for a job application is crucial and keeping both options on hand will ensure you’re prepared no matter what the job posting requests.

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