3 Major Differences Between CVs and Resumes

October 1, 2019


CV Writing Tips


The 3 key differences between CVs and resumes are:

  • length,
  • purpose and,
  • layout.

That being said, it’s important to note that many of these differences become redundant across certain 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, most people use the words “CV” and “resume” interchangeably.

If you’re applying for roles in Australia, you’ll be quite safe following the same trend; using one name or another 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), so you won’t raise too many eyebrows if you call your career marketing document one way or another.


But What Are The Differences?

If you’re a word nerd like me, and you just must know the differences between CVs and resume, then listen up.

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. As a result, traditionally, 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. They 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.

By the way, you’ll find plenty of resume writing tips in our guides here and here. And if you’d like professional resume writing help, you can learn about my resume writing services here.


What To Include On A CV?

Now that you understand the differences between a CV and a resume, you’ll understand why – traditionally – each document has called for starkly different amounts of detail.

If you were asked to write 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.

Post by Steven

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