3 Major Differences Between CVs and Resumes

Alright, let me give you the punchline first. We’ll discuss the devil that hides in the details later.

The 3 key differences between CVs and resumes are:

  • their length,
  • their purpose and,
  • their layout.

That being said, it’s important to note that many of these differences become redundant across certain country borders. For example, the British tend to refer to their main career document as a “CV”, while Australians, Americans and Canadians prefer to call it a “resume”.

This is an important observation because, despite the fact that there are some clear technical differences between the two documents, a lot of people use “CV” and “resume” interchangeably.

This is particularly true in Australia. If applying for roles here, you’ll be quite safe using either “resume” or “CV”. Your choice of words will not negatively impact your job application.

While the British do, as a culture, prefer the word “CV” to “resume”, the UK recruitment culture shares a lot of similarities with that of Australia (indeed, a lot of recruiters do stints in both countries during the course of their careers). Consequently, you also won’t raise too many eyebrows if you call your career marketing document one way or another.


So What Are The Differences?

If you’re a fact nerd like me, and you must know everything that there is to know about differences between CVs and resume, then listen up.

(You never know – knowing this may help you during a future pub trivia night).

Curriculum Vitae is a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “course of life”. As such, its intended purpose is to comprehensively cover your professional achievements, work skills and academic accomplishments. Because of this, CVs can run for as long as 3-6 pages.

In contrast, a resume is a brief summary of your skills, abilities, qualification, work history and educational background. Resumes are usually 1-3 pages in length and tend to be customised to specific job ads, to ensure that they only contain information that’s relevant to that position.

To illustrate my points, here are some examples of each:

cv-vs-resumeBy the way, you’ll find plenty of resume writing tips in our guides here and here.

If you prefer for a professional resume writer to take the entire task off your hands, you should learn more about our resume writing services here.


What To Include On A CV?

Now that you know the key differences between a CV and a resume, you’re probably starting to see why, traditionally, each of these document types has called for starkly different amounts of detail.

If you were asked to submit a traditional CV, you’d need to include:

  • Your Contact Information
  • Research Objective, Professional Profile, or Personal Statement
  • Your Education
  • Your Professional, Academic or Board Appointments
  • Books You’ve Published
  • Blogs You’ve Written
  • Leading Websites You’ve Been Mentioned In
  • Peer-Reviewed Publications ThatYou’ve Been Mentioned In
  • Your Awards and Honours
  • Your Voluntary / Non-Profit Experience
  • Conferences You Have Attended
  • Your Mentoring Experience
  • Languages You Speak
  • Your Vocational Memberships
  • Your References

As you can see, this amount of detail certainly warrants the name “course of life“.


What To Include On A Resume?

Unlike a CV, a resume is significantly more succinct and more to-the-point. Your resume, traditionally, should only mention relevant work experiences, skills, certifications, and education. Here’s a list of typical inclusions:

  • Your Contact Information
  • Your Profile
  • Your Recent Work History (15 or so years)
  • Your Education
  • Your Achievements


In Conclusion.

Remember that, despite clear technical differences between a traditional CV and a traditional resume, you must keep the cultural context in mind.

A resume is the preferred application document in the US and Canada. Americans and Canadians would only use a CV when applying for a job abroad or if searching for an academic or research-oriented position.

In Australia, India and South Africa, the terms “resume” and “CV” are used interchangeably.

In the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, a CV is used in all contexts the documents aren’t referred to as “resumes” at all.

Also, remember that landing your dream role involves more than just having the perfect resume (or a CV).

The resume will often get you a foot in the door; once it does, it will be up to you to convert this opportunity into a solid job offer. This means being very clear about your strengths, weaknesses, reasons behind your career moves, your mandates and how they weave together to form your overall value proposition.

Finally, ensure that you invest the time to build meaningful connections with recruiters and managers. The days of simply spamming the job market with your resume, and applying only to advertised positions are over. The job market is fierce. Your application is likely to be one of hundreds, and a recruiter’s decision to invite you for an interview will often depend on the level of pre-existing relationship they have with you.



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