The difference between the resume and CV




A curriculum vitae (CV) and resume are documents people use to apply for jobs, internships, and grants. These two terms are often used interchangeably. However, depending on your country of residence and the industry, you might need to submit one type of document and not the other. Let’s explore the differences between the CV and resume and when to use each.

CV and resume in the United States

The term “curriculum vitae” or CV means “course of life” in Latin. In the US, it is frequently used in academia to refer to a complete summary of one’s research experience, education, and employment, and accomplishments since the beginning of their undergraduate studies (Woo, Krawczyk, 2019).

However, using the term CV for longer documents only is a common misconception. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines curriculum vitae as “a short account of one’s career and qualifications” which means the same as resume, so both terms can be used interchangeably.

A resume usually means a one- or two- page resume that briefly summarizes your skills, qualifications, and achievements for a target job. Unlike the academic CV, you can leave out irrelevant jobs or activities to keep the document concise. Resumes and short CVs are used to apply for private sector and public sector jobs.

Below are some key differences between the academic CV and resume/short CV:

Academic CV


  • Can be 10+ pages long
  • Focuses on academic and research accomplishments, and awards
  • Starts with a detailed Education section, no matter your experience
  • Includes a complete list of your research, employment, and activities
  • Is used to apply for jobs in academia, fellowships, and research jobs
  • Does not exceed 1-2 pages
  • Focuses on job-related skills, experience, and achievements
  • After 2+ years of experience, Education section goes to the bottom
  • Includes only relevant experience and skills
  • Is used to apply for public and private sector jobs

Academic CV structure and format

An academic CV can take multiple pages, as its purpose is to provide a full record of your educational background, research and publications, and professional history. At the same time, you need to present all information concisely and use a formal tone.

For your academic or research CV, use formal, traditional formatting. Avoid bright colors and fancy fonts. Capitalize section headings to make them easy to distinguish and present all information in reverse chronological order.

Here are the key sections to include in your CV:

  1. Name and contact info
  2. Research summary
  3. Education
  4. Professional experience
  5. Teaching experience
  6. Research and publications
  7. Conferences attended
  8. Awards and honors
  9. Grants
  10. Professional affiliations
  11. Technical skills
  12. Training and certifications

You can change the order of sections depending on your target job, or add other sections if necessary.

Resume structure and format

Compared to the academic CV, a resume or short CV is more concise and leaves out any information irrelevant to your target jobs. Today, the majority of employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) that sort out irrelevant resumes. To be shortlisted, you need to include specific keywords in your resume text and list relevant experience.

Moreover, a modern resume should focus more on the candidate’s measurable achievements over daily duties. Make sure that your resume is easy to look through, as recruiters tend to spend mere seconds on each resume and you need to get them interested instantly.

Here are the key resume sections to include:

  1. Name and contact details
  2. Career summary
  3. Hard and soft skills
  4. Professional experience
  5. Education and training

These sections are the must-haves for any resume, and you can add more section if they are relevant to your career.

CV and resume in Europe

In the United Kingdom and the EU, people mostly use the term CV to refer to a short job application document. The term “resume” is used less frequently. A European CV can be two or three pages long and detail the candidate’s work experience, education, and projects since graduation.

In the EU, there is a common Europass CV format that is familiar to most employers and educational institutions. To create this type of resume, you need to set up a Europass profile and the app will do the rest.

Compared to the American resume/short CV, a European CV allows using personal information and a photo of a candidate and is usually more detailed. Yet, it has the same purpose – to present the candidate’s experience and prove they are right for the job.

What document should you use to apply for jobs?

The type of document to use and format depends on your location and the industry. If you are in the US and are not applying for a job in academia or research, you need a two-page resume. To apply for jobs in Europe, you need a CV which is similar to resume but has a specific format. If you are still confused, it is best to reach out to the employer and ask what type of document they expect.

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