Should You Use a CV or a Resume? Learn the Difference in 90 Seconds

by Jun 21, 2017

In case you’ve been wondering (and many do), there’s a difference between a CV and a resume.

In the 90 seconds it takes to read this article, you’ll learn about each of these important documents and when and where to use them.


CV is the abbreviation for the Latin term Curriculum Vitæ, which means course of life. And, while not a transcript of everything you did from the time you were five years old (including that unfortunate incident in the 7th grade), it is somewhat comprehensive as it contains thoughtful detail about your achievements, education, awards and honors.  It can be two, four or even ten pages in length depending on your professional contributions and includes not just places you have worked, but what you have published.

A résumé on the other hand is … a short document used to present your background and skills to a reader who is not expected to spend more than 6 seconds glancing it over.

A résumé on the other hand is French in origin and is a short, 1-2 page document used to present your background and skills to a reader who is not expected to spend more than 6 seconds glancing it over (yes, you read the time correctly). A typical résumé contains a summary of relevant job experience and education and is often accompanied by a cover letter. It is also highly modifiable – tailored for each job being sought.  


The three major differences between CVs and resumes are:

Length – A resume is a brief summary of skills and experience listed over one or two sheets, while a CV is more detailed and can stretch well beyond a couple of pages.

Purpose – A resume is tailored to each position whereas the CV remains pretty much the same no matter which setting being applied to (read below for When and Where to Use a CV).

Format – A CV has a clear chronological structure listing the entire career of the individual whereas a resume’s information can be moved about to suit the job being applied for

When and Where to Use a CV

CVs are used primarily in academic circles as professors, and grad students in particular, spend a good amount of effort in getting published. While higher-education institutions appreciate grades and test scores, they push for the publication of research. Note – when I stress being published, I’m not talking about posting blogs, or sending out the annual Christmas letter describing what you liked or didn’t like in your research. The point to being published is in the context of acknowledgement from one or more well-regarded trade publications that pass academic or scientific muster.

The preferred way of referencing publications is through a CV. Simply put, if you’re a Ph.D. – you’re going to use a CV, not a resume.

Still, there are exceptions to the rule of CV’s solely being used by academic institutions – at least when it comes to seeking work in other countries. The website Undercover Recruiter explains that a CV is used in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.  In Australia, India and South Africa, the terms CV and resume are used interchangeably. In these country settings, a resume is used for jobs in the private sector while a CV is used when applying for public service positions.

If you need a European Union CV template, take heart. There are outlines you can download to assist in your design and build.

Quick Review

CV – A detailed career history portraying the full record of education, achievements and contributions. 

Resume – A short summary of work experience, with no particular formatting rule, tailored for each unique job goal.


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Victoria Tucker

Co-Founder / CEO, ZBglobal, Inc.

Victoria Tucker is the Chief Dreamer at ZBglobal, where she lends her 30+ years of experience on pivotal topics like workforce collaboration, engagement, mentoring and project management. She also plays ukulele…but not very well. Reach out to her!